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388th Fighter Wing [388th FW]

The 388th Fighter Wing operates and maintains the world's largest Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night, or LANTIRN, F-16 wing and is the largest tenant unit at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The primary mission of the wing is to have 388th professionals ready to deploy, employ, and sustain F-16s and air control assets world-wide.

The wing has numerous honors dating back to Dec. 24, 1942 at Gowen Field, Idaho, from the 388th Bombardment Group (Heavy) that flew the B-17 Flying Fortress.

The 388th BG relocated to RAF Knettishall, England, as a key unit of 8th Air Force, and saw its first action July 17, 1943, attacking an aircraft factory in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. After successfully completing 306 bombing sorties and receiving two distinguished unit citations and six World War II campaign streamers, the 388th BG was inactivated 1945.

The 388th Fighter Bomber Wing activated Nov. 23, 1953, at Clovis AFB, N.M., and was designated to carry on the honors of the 388th BG. After two periods of inactivation and a name change, the wing reactivated April 1, 1966, as the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Korat Royal Thai AB, Thailand. The wing began flying the F-4 Phantom II in May 1969 after transitioning from the F-105 Thunderchief. From Thailand, the wing flew against some of the most intensive air defense in the history of air warfare while attacking targets in North Vietnam. The wing flew more than 60,000 combat hours. During this period, the wing received the Presidential Unit Citation, eight Air Force Outstanding Unit awards with combat "valor" devices, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm, and 15 Vietnam Campaign streamers.

The 388th TFW returned from overseas Dec. 23, 1975, to Hill AFB, Utah. The first-combat operational F-16 Fighting Falcon was delivered to the wing Jan. 23, 1979. The wing's three fighter squadrons became operational in the F-16 by 1980.

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, the 388th deployed the 4th and 421st Fighter Squadrons to support Operation Desert Shield/Storm. When open hostilities began, the 388th TFW became the first F-16 wing to fly the LANTIRN system in combat. Pilots from the 388th dropped more than 2.7 million tons of conventional munitions on strategic and tactical targets in Iraq and Kuwait during almost 4,000 combat sorties (1,200 of them at night) without a single combat loss.

In December 1991, the wing was redesignated the 388th Fighter Wing and assigned to the newly established Air Combat Command. The wing has a continuing commitment of approximately six months per year to Operation Southern Watch, protecting the no-fly zone south of the 33rd parallel in Iraq. The 729th ACS also has a continuous presence in South America supporting the war on drugs.

The 388th FW flew the F-16's 5 millionth flying hour at Hill Air Force Base Dec. 4, 1996.

Although located on an Air Force Materiel Command Base, the wing is assigned to 12th Air Force, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., and Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Va. There are more than 2,000 people assigned to the wing. It's equipment includes 54 LANTIRN-capable F-16s and air control equipment.

Flying out of the 388th Fighter Wing are three distinguished fighter squadrons: the 4th Fighter Squadron "Fightin' Fuujins," the 34th Fighter Squadron "Rams" and the 421st Fighter Squadron "Black Widows". To accomplish its dynamic and challenging flying mission, the 388th flies the LANTIRN-capable F-16 "Fighting Falcon." The F-16 entered Air Force operational service in the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill in January 1979. The wing is now equipped with highly maneuverable F-16Cs which are proven in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack.

The wing's 729th Air Control Squadron is capable of controlling many types of aircraft and routinely deploys to sites around the world including monitoring suspected drug-traffickers in South America and missions in Southwest Asia. Other units of the 388th Fighter Wing are the 388th Range Squadron, 388th Maintenance Squadron, 388th Logistics Support Squadron and 388th Operations Support Squadron.

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to close Cannon Air Force Base, NM. As a result, it would distribute the 27th Fighter Wing's F- 16s to 388th Wing at Hill AFB (six aircraft) and several other installations. DoD made this recommendation becasue Hill (14) had a higher military value ranking than did Cannon (50).

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:13:02 ZULU