18th Fighter Squadron [18th FS]
The 18th Fighter Squadron conducts air operations for combat-ready F-16 aircraft, working closely with the 355th FS to provide for close air support, battlefield air interdiction and offensive counter air. With its Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night, or LANTIRN, systems, the Blue Foxes have a day or night capability and are prepared to respond to Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed worldwide mobility commitments.
The 18th Fighter Squadron was constituted the 18th Pursuit Squadron December 22, 1939, and was activated at Moffet Field, CA, on February 1, 1940. The 18th moved to Elmendorf Field, Alaska, on February 21, 1941, and began flying P-36s. Redesignated the 18th Fighter Squadron on May 15, 1942, the 18th participated in combat operations in the northern Pacific, as well as aiding the defense of Alaska during World War II. Throughout World War II, the 18th flew the P-40, P-39, P-38 and P-51 aircraft.
Redesignated the 18th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron in 1952, the squadron began operations at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as part of Air Defense Command's Continental Defense Force. There, the 18th flew F-51s and later F-86s. In July of 1954, the 18th moved to Ladd AFB, Alaska, where for three years it flew the F-89 Scorpion and carried out air defense operations with Alaskan Air Command.
In August of 1957, the 18th was transferred to Wurtsmith AFB, MI, where it transitioned to F-102s.
From May 1960 until its inactivation in 1971, the 18th operated from Grand Forks AFB, ND, as an integral part of the interceptor force of Air (later Aerospace) Defense Command. There, the 18th flew the F-101 Voodoo.
The 18th activated in 1977 at Elmendorf AFB and was redesignated the 18th Tactical Fighter Squadron. It was tasked with providing tactical air and air defense operations using the F-4E.
On January 1, 1982, the squadron moved to Eielson AFB, with its mission becoming that of providing close air support in the A-10 Thunderbolt.
On March 7, 1991, the 18th received its first F-16C. The squadron was redesignated the 18th Fighter Squadron June 1, 1991. The 18th FS Blue Foxes are the only active duty F-16 Fighting Falcon (Viper) unit that maintains close air support as its primary mission.
In 1997 elements of the 18th FS deployed to Singapore and Malaysia to take part in dissimilar air combat tactic training as part of exercise Commando Sling and Cope Taufan respectively. The Cope Taufan deployment marked the first time F-16s from the United States Pacific Air Forces had flown against MiG29s.
During the months of October through December 1998, the unit was deployed to Al Jabar Air Base in Kuwait as part of Operation Southern Watch.
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