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71st Fighter Squadron [71st FS]

The 71st Fighter Training Squadron, also referred to as the Ironmen, is one of three flying squadrons assigned to the 1st Fighter Wing, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. The squadron's mission is to provide professional adversary air support to enhance the 1st Fighter Wing's F-22 combat capability.

The 71st was formed Dec. 14, 1940, as the 71st Pursuit Squadron and was activated at Selfridge Field, Mich., Jan. 1, 1941. The squadron was assigned to the 1st Pursuit Group and reported to San Diego Naval Air Station Dec. 9, 1941, to perform anti- submarine duty along the Pacific Coast. In June 1942, the 71st arrived in England to begin a European-African tour lasting until October 1945. The squadron received distinguished unit citations for operations in Italy Aug. 25, 1943, and Aug. 30, 1943, and at Ploesti, Romania May 18, 1944. The 71st was deactivated in Italy on Oct. 16, 1945.

The squadron was reactivated at March Field, Calif., July 3, 1946, and transferred to George Air Force Base, Calif., July 18, 1950. The 71st was attached to the Eastern Air Defense Force Aug. 15, 1950, and stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base, N.Y. The squadron was transferred to Greater Pittsburgh Airport, Penn., Oct. 21, 1950, and then back to its original home at Selfridge Air Force Base, Mich., in August 1955. The 71st moved to Richards- Gebaur Air Force Base, Mo., in January 1958, transferring to Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., in July 1968.

In 1975, the 71st moved to its current home with the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Base, Va., where it was equipped with the F-15 Eagle air superiority fighter in 1976.

The 71st garnered numerous awards in its distinguished career. The 71st Fighter Squadron won the prestigious Hughes Achievement Trophy in 1999, 1993 and 1969, awarded annually to the most outstanding air superiority unit in the Air Force. The 71st received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and the Presidential Unit Citation on four occasions each. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Corporation recognized the 71st in July 1991, for achieving 110,000 flying hours without a serious mishap.

The 71st TFS deployed in support of Operation Desert Shield as part of the first U.S. Air Force contingent in Saudi Arabia. The squadron was integral in establishing allied air-superiority during the operation. More recently the squadron participated in Operation Southern Watch in the Persian Gulf Region. The unit was redesignated the 71st Fighter Squadron Sept. 1, 1991.

In a normal flying day, the 71st Fighter Squadron launched approximately 25 sorties to fly training missions in air-to-air combat, aerial gunnery, and air defense intercepts.

Minutes after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the 71st launched its F 15s to patrol the skies over Washington D.C. and the east coast, intercepting and escorting dozens of airliners to safe landings at airports around the country. A contingent of 71st aircraft that were deployed to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, became the first fighters to take to the skies to patrol Las Vegas and southern California. In February 2003, the 71st deployed in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, where they flew Combat Air Patrols and helped gain total air superiority for the duration of the conflict.

On September 1st, 2010, the last F-15s assigned to the 71st departed Langley Air Force Base as a prelude to unit inactivation, ending the 34-year association of the F-15 with Langley. On September 30th, 2010, the 71st Fighter Squadron was inactivated in a ceremony held in the 71st Fighter Squadron Hangar.

On June 17, 2015, the Ironmen were redesignated the 71st Fighter Training Squadron and reactivated on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia on August 14, 2015. The unit provides dedicated, professional adversary air with its 17 assigned T-38A/Bs and over 40 assigned and attached Active Duty and Virginia Air National Guard pilots. In an average month, the Ironmen will fly over 300 sorties to keep the 1st Fighter Wing's F-22 pilots combat mission ready and prepared to deploy on short notice. The squadron generates close to 3,500 sorties and logs over 4,000 flight hours each year.

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Page last modified: 21-01-2016 18:07:20 ZULU