34th Fighter Squadron [34th FS]
The 34th Fighter Squadron is one of three fighter squadrons assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The 34th Fighter Squadron, also known by its nickname Rude Rams, is equipped with Lockheed Martin F-35s, the newest fifth-generation fighter jets in the American military. It prepares to deploy worldwide to conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground operations for daylight and nighttime missions.
Washington continues to boost its military presence in the region amid growing tensions with Tehran, also sending an additional 3,000 troops as well as air defence systems to Saudi Arabia. Hill Air Force Base has sent a squadron equipped with F-35 fighters on a combat deployment to the United Arab Emirates, the Standard-Examiner reported in late November 2019. According to the newspaper, citing Col. Steven Behmer, commander of the 388th Fighter Wing, servicemen from the 34th and the 466th Fighter Squadrons left Utah for the Al Dhafra Air Base. The American personnel includes those drawn from active duty and reserve units. The US military sent its 4th Fighter Squadron from Hill Air Force Base to the Middle East earlier in 2019. The jets and staff recently returned from the region after a six-month deployment in the region.
The unit operated and maintained Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night, or LANTIRN, F-16s.
As part of the world's largest LANTIRN F-16 wing, the 34th FS conducts flying operations and equipment maintenance to maintain combat readiness of a 18-aircraft F-16C LANTIRN squadron.
The 34th FS was activated at Seymour Johnson Field, N.C., Oct. 15, 1944, and moved to Bluenthenthal Field, N.C., a month later. The squadron served in the final stages of World War II flying the P-47 Warhawk. It saw limited combat operations in the Western Pacific from May 1945 to Aug. 14, 1946, while it was stationed in the Ryukyu Islands, first on Ie Shima and later on Okinawa.
The 34th FS was inactivated Oct. 15, 1946, following the war and was redesignated the 34th Fighter-Day Squadron prior to its reactivation, November 1954, at George Air Force Base, Calif. It was part of the 413th Fighter-Day Wing and was equipped with the F-86 Sabre. The 34th transitioned into the F-100 Super Sabre in 1956, which it flew until 1959 when it was inactivated.
On May 2, 1966, the 34th FS was again activated and assigned to Pacific Air Forces. The squadron was part of the 41st Air Division, Yokota Air Base, Japan. One month later, the 34th deployed and was attached to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, Korat Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. The unit was equipped with the F-105D Thunderchief and conducted combat operations until May 1969. While assigned to Korat, the squadron transitioned into the F-4 Phantom II and continued combat operations in Southeast Asia.
The Rams participated in Operation Prize Bull, Sept. 21, 1971. This was the first time U.S. forces bombed North Vietnam using all-weather capability. The 34th TFS performed strike missions in support of a recovery operation for the U.S.S. Mayaguez, a merchant freighter captured by Cambodian Khmer Rouge guerrillas in May 1975.
On Dec. 23, 1975, the 34th TFS, as part of the 388th TFW, was relocated to Hill Air Force Base, Utah, flying the F-4D Phantom IIs. In November 1979, the 34th TFS became the first fighter squadron to be fully equipped with the F-16 Fighting Falcon. For the next several years, the squadron conducted initial qualification training for pilots from around the world, including those from Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, Israel and Norway.
When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the 34th found themselves backing up the front-line forces of the 388th TFW (Provisional) in Southwest Asia for Operation Desert Storm. The squadron flew their desert missions Torrejon Air Base, Spain.
After the Gulf War, the Rams got their chance to deploy to the desert. The 34th was the first 388th Fighter Wing squadron to deploy to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Southern Watch.
In October 1991, the squadron was redesignated the 34th Fighter Squadron as part of a command-level realignment.
Since 1991, the 34th FS has deployed to Southwest Asia a total of five times.
June 25, 1996, after being in Southwest Asia only 10 days into their fifth trip, tragedy struck the Khobar Towers housing compound where coalition forces lived. A terrorist bomb, which injured more than 300 airmen, rocked the living area, killing 19 airmen. Although some of the Rams were injured, none were killed in the attack. This mission was the longest and most hostile peacetime deployment for a 388th FW squadron.
Military decorations for the 34th FS include eight Air Force Outstanding Unit awards with combat "valor" devices, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, 15 campaign steamers for Southeast Asia duty and one presidential unit citation.
Approximately 300 people are assigned to the squadron. Equipment includes 18 LANTIRN-capable Block 40 F-16Cs, worth about $21 million each.
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