8th Fighter Squadron [8th FS]
Almost two years after its reactivation, the 8th Fighter Squadron held its inactivation ceremony 13 May 2011 on the 8th FS trim pad. The 8th FS, which was reactivated in September 2009 after being inactivated April 2008 following the retirement of the F-117 Nighthawk, was once again be placed in inactive status due to the changing of Holloman's flying mission. The 8th's inactivation marked only the second time in its 61-year history it has been in a state of inactivation. The 8th's F-22 Raptors were absorbed into Holloman's 7th Fighter Squadron and other F-22 squadrons at Nellis, Langley and Elmendorf Air Force Bases.
Since its reactivation, the 8th had done many great things explained Lt. Col. Craig Baker, 8th FS commander. "In less than a year, we boosted, by over 100 percent, the power projection of the 49th Wing's combat capabilities," he said. "We flew 2,500 sorties and over 3,000 hours. That's more than 10 sorties a day, with less than nine F-22s. We deployed to the (Central Command) area of responsibility, (have been in) three Red Flag (exercises), several air combat simulators and (participated in the) Neptune Falcon (exercise)."
The 49th Operations Group commander, Col. Kevin Huyck, also shared the significance of what Colonel Baker and the 8th FS had been able to accomplish during its period of activation. "You've ramped up the Black Sheep to the fastest F-22 squadron to be operationally ready in the history of our Air Force. You've stood up a fighter squadron and you've deployed around the world to show that we are a globally capable force," he said. "Lord knows we don't give you enough resources, we don't give you enough people and sometimes we definitely don't give you enough guidance from above. Excellence is not only what you achieved, but also what you've left behind and the Black Sheep legacy of greatness continues today."
The 8th & 9th Fighter Squadrons were the only two combat-ready F-117A Nighthawk squadrons in the world. They deploy worldwide as tasked by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, using special low-observable technologies to deliver precision-guided weapons against high-value, heavily defended targets. The 8th and 9th Fighter Squadrons provide the National Command Authority with a fully autonomous special combat capability for low- profile military operations.
The 8th Fighter Squadron's story began on January 16, 1941, when the 49th Pursuit Group, Interceptor was activated at Selfridge Field, Michigan. During that activation, the 7th, 8th, and 9th Pursuit Squadrons were assigned to the Group and remained a part of the 49th throughout its colorful history. The 49th and its squadrons compiled a history that included extensive participation in World War II and the Korean Conflict, followed by participation in Southeast Asia.
Approximately one year after activation, the 8th and its sister squadrons moved to the Southwest Pacific to begin their World War II combat role. Flying the P-40 "Warhawk", the 8th quickly asserted itself and received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its activities in Australia during April through August 1942. Throughout the war, the 8th provided air support for the allied ground forces and engaged in air-to-air combat with enemy aircraft. These activities merited the squadron ten battle honors and seven unit citations. It was during the Second World War that the 8th acquired the title "The Black Sheep" Squadron. In 1943, the 49th Fighter Group began the transition from the P-47 "Thunderbolt" to the P-38 "Lightning", an aircraft superior in terms of performance. While the other two squadrons received new aircraft, the 8th received the aircraft being discarded by the other squadrons. The pilots, feeling that the 8th was on the tail end of the supply line, began calling the 8th the "Black Sheep" Squadron. The name stuck and the "Black Sheep" went on to become recognized experts at aerial combat.
From 1946 until 1950, the 8th TFS transitioned through the P-51 and F-80 aircraft and served as a part of the occupational forces in Japan. With the start of the Korean War in June of 1950, the newly redesigned 49th Fighter-Bomber Wing began combat operations in Korea by covering the evacuation of civilian personnel from Kimpo and Suwon. Using the F-84 "Thunderjet", the 8th pioneered the effectiveness of ground attack fighters in the destruction of the enemy's war-making potential.
After Korea, the 8th moved with the wing to Europe. During their eleven year stay at Etain-Rouvres Air Base, France and Spangdahlem Air Base, West Germany, the 8th flew F-86s, F-100s, F-105s, and finally F-4Ds in 1967.
In July 1968, the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing was assigned to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. From May through October 1972, the 8th was deployed to Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand for combat operations. While in Southeast Asia, the 8th flew air interdiction and close air support missions. The 8th received an Air Force Outstanding Unit Citation with a combat "V" device for their participation in Vietnam which ended October 6, 1972.
After returning to Holloman, the 8th continued various combat exercises with F-4's until 1977, when it began its transition to the F-15. In June of 1978, the transition to the F-15 "Eagle" was completed. The squadron trained in the F-15 for thirteen years until June 1992.
In August 1992, the 8th Fighter Squadron began flying the AT-38B Talon. Its mission was to train new Air Force pilots, fresh out of undergraduate pilot training, the skills required for aerial combat.
On 30 July 1993, the 8th Fighter Squadron transitioned to the F-117A Stealth Fighter.
The mission of the 8th FS is to conduct worldwide deployment and employment as tasked by the Joint Chiefs of Staff utilizing special low-observable technologies and precision guided weapons delivery against high value, heavily defended targets.
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