7th Fighter Squadron
7th Combat Training Squadron [7th CTS]
The 7th Fighter Squadron, which flew Holloman's 24 F-22 Raptors, was supposed to move its hundreds of F-22 support personnel and aircraft to Tyndall Air Force Base, FL, in the spring of 2013 to comply with the Air Force's F-22 fleet consolidation plan, but Congress enacted a freeze on US Air Force structure changes, including aircraft transfers. As a replacement for the F-22, Holloman was supposed to receive two F-16 training squadrons from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., but this move was also postponed due to the congressional freeze.
The 7th Fighter Squadron name remained at Holloman Air Force Base, and the squadron was scheduled to be renamed the 95th Fighter Squadron, a historical squadron within Tyndall's history. The last four F-22 Raptors from the 7th Fighter Squadron prepared to departed for Tyndall Air Force Base, FL, at Holloman Air Force Base, NM, 08 April 2014.
In April 2012, the 7th Fighter Squadron departed on what became the first and longest deployment of the F-22A Raptor to Southwest Asia in support of contingency operations in and around the Persian Gulf region. The squadron remained deployed for approximately 10 months finally returning to Holloman on January 22, 2013. On April 8, 2014, the 49th Wing sent the last of its F-22A Raptors to Tyndall AFB, Florida, completing a long delayed move that centralized F-22 training and consolidated the F-22 Raptor fleet maximizing available combat aircraft and squadrons for contingencies while enhancing overall operational flexibility. The following month on May 2, 2014, the 7th Fighter Squadron inactivated leaving the 9th Attack Squadron as the only historically attached 49th Wing unit.
The first five F-22 Raptors left Holloman for Tyndall Air Force Base Fla., 06 January 2014, as part of the base's transition from F-22 operations to F-16 Fighting Falcon training. "Today is the culmination of about two-and-half years of Air Force planning to move the F-22 Raptors from the 7th Fighter Squadron to the 95th Fighter Squadron at Tyndall AFB, Fla., where they will join the 43rd Fighter Squadron in the 325th Fighter Wing." said Lt. Col. Shawn Anger, 7th Fighter Squadron commander. The five F-22s that left 06 Janueary were followed by six Raptors leaving each month until the move is completed in April 2014. "By spreading out the move of the F-22s to Tyndall, it allows for an easier transition for the maintenance and other pertinent personnel involved in the move," said Anger.
As part of the F-22 fleet consolidation, the Secretary of the Air Force and Chief of Staff of the Air Force determined the most effective basing for the these aircraft. "The Air Force realized that it is not cost effective to have a single fighter squadron at a base," said Anger. "Since Tyndall had the necessary infrastructure already in place it just made sense to combine the two there."
The 7th Fighter Squadron "Screamin' Demons" inactivated 31 December 2006 due to the phasing out of the F-117A Nighthawk. A ceremony marking the event was held in Hangar 301.
The mission of the 7th CTS was to prepare pilots to fly highly demanding, night, single-seat missions as tasked by the National Command Authorities and Joint Chiefs of Staff. The squadron was the only F-117A Training Squadron in the U.S. Air Force. It provided Initial Qualification Training for Pilots Entering the F-117A.
The 7th CTS, or "Screamin' Demons," was the only unit in the world to provide initial qualification training for stealth fighter pilots. The unit's Lockheed F-117A aircraft were often seen flying during the daytime, and are usually "tailed" by an instructor flying in a T-38. This configuration allows the instructor to observe the student's performance in the single-seat F-117.
The 7th CTS also was responsible for ensuring pilots accepted in the F-117A program are instructed in all aspects of low observability aviation prior to their assignment to one of the operational stealth fighter squadrons. The squadron augments the operational squadrons during deployments.
The Bunyaps, as the Scramin' Demons were formerly called, contributed a total of 190 aerial victories to the wing's total during World War II. The squadron was originally assigned on 25 May 1941 to the 49th Pursuit Group. On 4 March 1942, members of the 7th Squadron took part in the suqadron's first air engagement, downing five enemy aircraft, with no losses, over Horn Island. On 15 September 1942, the 7th arrived at Port Moresby, New Guinea, flying its initial mission on 19 September 1942. Nearly one month later, on 9 October 1942, 49th Group Headquarters and the 8th Fighter-Bomber Squadron joined the 7th at Port Moresby. On 27 October 1944, Air echelons of the 7th, 8th, and 9th Squadrons landed at Leyte. The aircraft were the first American land-based fighter planes in the Philippines since early 1942.
Seventh pilots made significant contributions to the 49 FW war efforts in Kosovo and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On 11 Sep 1992, the 7th Fighter Squadron was reactivated and assigned the AT-38B aircraft. A year later, on 2 December 1993, the 417th Fighter Squadron was redesignated as the 7th Fighter Squadron.
On 17 June 1999, the 7th Fighter Squadron and the 49th Training Squadron combined to create the 7th Combat Training Squadron.
From 1999 to 2005, the Demons were known as the 7th Combat Training Squadron. In 1999, Colonel Knehans explained, the Quadrennial Defense Review found the Air Force could save money by combining the 7 FS and the 46th Training Squadron and moving the 7 FS's F-117As to the 9th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, closing the 7th Aircraft Maintenance Unit. "Since the 7th no longer 'owned' airplanes, we couldn't be a fighter squadron--hence the combat training school," Colonel Knehans said. "In 2002, the objective wing was dissolved--now no fighter squadron owned airplanes. In late 2004, I started working to re-establish our heritage back to a fighter squadron. On July 22, 2005, we reclaimed our fighter squadron status." Colonel Knehans said the Demons had six F-117As which would be among the first 10 to go into retirement. The T-38s, used for initial qualification, requalification training, instrument and qualification evaluations, test support and F-117A reduced altitude upgrades, would be managed by the 8th Fighter Squadron. They would continue performing all of these functions after the 7 FS inactivated except, of course, initial qualification on the F-117A.
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