523rd Fighter Squadron [523rd FS]
(Base Code: CC)
The 523rd Fighter Squadron's primary mission is to maintain a continuous ability to rapidly deploy and support unified commanders worldwide with day or night F-16C combat operations. The squadron is committed to decisively employing the F-16C throughout the entire spectrum of offensive and defensive missions, including interdiction, close air support, strategic attack and counter-air, through employing a wide variety of conventional, precision guided and nuclear weapons.
The squadron's history dates from Feb. 1, 1940, when it was activated at Barksdale Field, La., as the 17th Bombardment Squadron (Light). Its first aircraft was the B-18. During World War II, the squadron saw action in the Southwest Pacific, Mediterranean, and European Theaters. It was redesignated the 523rd Fighter Squadron on May 30, 1944. By the end of the war, the unit had been re-equipped successively with A-24, A-20, A-36, P- 40 and P-47 aircraft. The unit was deactivated at Camp Shanks, New York, on Nov. 7, 1945.
The 523rd was reactivated Aug. 20, 1946, at Fritzlar, Germany, again, flying P-47s. P-51 aircraft replaced the P-47s the following year. At about the same time the squadron returned to the United States. During the next few years, the unit was based in Maryland, Nebraska and Texas. It was re-equipped with the F-82 in 1948.
In 1950, the unit became the 523rd Fighter Escort Squadron and received its first jet aircraft, the F-84. That December, the unit moved to Taegu Air Base, Korea. In 1951, after several months of Korean War combat, the 523rd was reassigned to Bergstrom AFB, Texas. During the eight years in Texas, the squadron was redesignated the 523rd Strategic Fighter Squadron (1953) and the 523rd Fighter Bomber Squadron (1957). In 1957, the 523rd acquired another aircraft, the F-101.
In 1959, the 523rd moved to Cannon Air Force Base, N.M., where it was equipped with the F-100. In 1962, the 523rd participated in deployments to MacDill AFB, Fla., and Takhli AFB, Thailand. Along with other units of the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing, the squadron saw additional deployments to Southwest Asia.
From November 1965 to August 1973, the 523rd Tactical Fighter Squadron was assigned to the 405th Fighter Wing stationed at Clark AB, Philippines, with a detachment at Tainan AB, Taiwan. The squadron deployed to Udorn, Thailand, from April to October 1972 flying combat missions in support of the South Vietnam Army.
The 523rd returned to Cannon on August 31, 1973 and began transitioning to the F-111D. In March 1981, the 523rd deployed to Sachon AB, Republic of Korea, to participate in the joint-service exercise, "Team Spirit". This month long deployment was the first overseas deployment of a Tactical Air Command replacement training unit. In 1983, the squadron graduated its last class of replacement training unit students and ended the year as a fully mission-ready fighter squadron. The 523rd returned to Korea for operation "Team Spirit" in 1983, 1985, 1987, and March of 1990. In August 1988, the squadron deployed to Panama, the first F-111s to ever deploy to South America.
In 1992, the 523rd played a major role in the wing's transition to the F-111F. As the focal point for transferring the D-model to the "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., the Crusaders prepared 46 F-111D's for transfer. The 523rd also completed the last F-111D deployment by representing the 27th Fighter Wing in "William Tell," a live-fire fighter/bomber competition at Tyndall AFB, Fla. After the Air Force objective wing reorganization, the unit is now called the 523rd Fighter Squadron and has tripled the number of its personnel as all maintenance functions have been integrated into the squadron.
The 523rd transitioned to the F-111F in 1993 and immediately deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Provide Comfort III, enforcing the "no-fly" zone over Northern Iraq from March to August of 1993. The 523rd has been a critical player in providing F-111F support packages to many deployments to include RED FLAG and GREEN FLAG at Nellis AFB, NV, CRUSADER REACH in Canada, CENTRAL ENTERPRISE in RAF Fairford, England, and JOINT TASK FORCE 95-2 at Langley AFB, VA where the squadron demonstrated the might and reach of the F-111F by attacking a U.S. Navy Carrier Group. On 14 May 96, the last 523rd F-111F mission was completed with a flight by the squadron flag ship, Aircraft 70-2390, (historic for being the first aircraft to bomb Muammar Quaddafi in Libya, as well as, record numerous combat missions in DESERT STORM) to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH to complete the retirement of the squadron's F-111F models.
In January of 1996, the 523rd began another transition, this time to the Block 30, F-16C/D, adding yet another aircraft to the rich history of the fighter squadron. The 523d immediately began deploying to Nellis AFB, Nevada, in August 96, for the 57th Wing's Weapons Instructor Course. Its future deployments will include RED FLAG and AIR WARRIOR at Nellis AFB, NV, and MAPLE FLAG in Canada, to represent the 27th Fighter Wing.
The 523rd flew its first official F-16 sortie out of Cannon on February 20, 1996. The last tactical F-111 sorties were flown March 28, 1996. Two F-16s met the two F-111s and returned to base marking the transition. The final F-111Fs were flown to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, in July 1996. The fighter squadron flagship, tail number 70-2390, made its final flight to the Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, May 14, 1996.
The squadron was declared a mission-ready F-16 unit September 1996. The unit took part in Red Flag '97-1 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, October 1996. The 523rd won the Quality New Mexico Pinion Award for superb quality initiatives in January 1997. Ten F-16s and more than 100 people deployed to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, to take part in Combat Hammer in May 1997. Then in June, the Crusaders deployed to the largest Maple Flag exercise in history. They deployed with 12 jets and more than 130 people. The exercise took place in Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada, and involved many other U.S. bases and forces from several other countries.
Five F-16s and more than 60 people deployed June 29, 1997, to Keflavik Naval Air Station, Iceland, to cover an alert commitment F-15Es traditionally held. While there, they provided air superiority as the combat air arm of the Icelandic Defense Force, controlled and sustained F-16 operations in Iceland, executed U.S. Atlantic Command-tasked operations for fighter assets in Iceland and participated in realistic training for the United States Air Force and NATO forces. They took part in the multi-national, multi-service exercise Northern Viking, with F-15s from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida and Dutch F-16s.
The 523rd currently flies block 50 F-16Cs.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|