401st Air Expeditionary Wing
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2013)|
|401st Air Expeditionary Wing|
401st Air Expeditionary Wing emblem
|Active||1957-1991; 1992-1994; 2003-TBD|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Motto||Latin: Caelum Arena Nostra
("The Sky is Our Arena")
|Wilbur L. Creech, Kenneth North|
|Wing Badge||Shield: Azure, within a diminutive border argent a sheaf of four lances bend sinisterwise of the last, surmounted by a fess chequy sable and of the second overall a bend wavy vert, gules, or and of the first each fimbriated silver. (Approved 9 September 1958. This insigne replaced an earlier insigne approved 22 April 1955.)|
The United States Air Force's 401st Air Expeditionary Wing is an inactive unit of the United States Air Force. Its last assignment was with the Sixteenth Air Force, being stationed at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. It was inactivated sometime after 2004 (Date TBD).
- For additional history and lineage, see 401st Air Expeditionary Group
The 401st Tactical Fighter Wing was activated on 25 September 1957 at England AFB Louisiana, assuming the equipment and personnel of the inactivating 401st Fighter-Bomber Group as the USAF implemented the tri-deputate reorganization. The honors, lineage and history of the Group were bestowed on the wing upon activation. It's operational component was North American F-100 "Super Sabre" aircraft, with three tactical fighter squadrons (612th, 613th, 614th) being assigned from the former group.
The 401st TFW Participated in numerous firepower demonstrations, tactical exercises and maneuvers in the United States and overseas, and deployed its tactical squadrons to bases in Europe and the Middle East in support of NATO. Deployed to Homestead AFB, Florida during Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) as tactical airstrike unit.
From February 1964 to November 1965, wing squadron deployments shifted to the Far East and Southeast Asia in support of operations in that area, then returned to support operations in Europe-Middle East.
The 401st wing designation along with 613th TFS was reassigned to USAFE at Torrejon Air Base, Spain on 27 April 1966. The 612th and 614th TFS were reassigned to Phan Rang AB and Phu Cat AB, South Vietnam respectively.
United States Air Forces in Europe 
Prior to 1966, Torrejon AB hosted TDY squadrons of tactical aircraft rotating from CONUS TAC bases which would perform 30-day rotations to Aviano Air Base Italy and Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. With the USAFE takeover of the base, Tactical Air Command transferred the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing from England Air Force Base Louisiana to USAFE on a permanent basis to Torrejon on 27 April to perform host functions at the base and to support the rotational TDY duty to Italy and Turkey for NATO alerts.
The 401st TFW's initial operational squadrons at Torrejon were:
- 307th Tactical Fighter (1966–1971) (Tail Code: TJ)
- 353d Tactical Fighter (1966–1971) (Tail Code: TK)
- 613th Tactical Fighter (1966–1993) (Yellow/Black Tails, Tail Code: TL)
401st TFW squadrons flew the North American F-100D/F Super Sabre.
Due to the demands of the Vietnam War, the 401st had deployed two of its three permanently assigned fighter squadrons (612th, 614th) to South Vietnamese bases (Phan Rang AB, Phu Cat AB). To provide the 401st a full operational capability at Torrejon, aircraft and personnel were transferred on a permanent basis to the 401st TFW from Homestead AFB, Florida (307th TFS) and Myrtle Beach AFB South Carolina (353d TFS).
In 1970 the 401st TFW upgraded to the McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom II. In September 1973, an equipment change to the F-4C model took place, then in 1978 to the F-4D.
As a result of the withdrawal of USAF forces in South Vietnam, in 1972 the 307th and 353d fighter squadrons were returned to their home bases, and the 612th and 614th TFSs were assigned to Torrejon. Also in 1972, squadron tail codes were eliminated and "TJ" became the tail code for all 401st TFW aircraft.
In 1983 the 401st upgraded to the General Dynamics Block 15 F-16A/B Fighting Falcon. Operational squadrons were:
- 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron (blue tail stripe)
- 613th Tactical Fighter Squadron (yellow tail stripe)
- 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron (red tail stripe)
The F-16s were upgraded to the Block 30 F-16C/D in July 1988.
In January 1988, Spain and the United States announced jointly that agreement had been reached in principle on a new base agreement with an initial term of eight years. The agreement essentially meeting the conditions demanded by Spain that the USAF withdraw from the base. The F-16 aircraft were to be removed from Torrejon by mid-1991 which would end the USAFE usefulness of the facility. It was expected that this step would reduce the number of United States personnel in Spain by nearly one-half.
Implementation of this agreement was delayed by the 1990/91 crisis in Kuwait, when the 401st TFW was one of the first American fighter wings to respond, with the 612th TFS deploying to Incerlik AB, Turkey as part of the 7440th Composite Wing (Provisional) and the 614th TFS "Lucky Devils" deploying to Doha, Qatar as the 401st Tactical Fight Wing (Provisional). However, after the 1991 cease-fire in Iraq, plans proceeded to close Torrejon Air Base.
Post Cold War 
On 1 October 1991 the wing was redesignated the 401st Fighter Wing as a result of the wing implementing the USAF objective wing organization. Also, the 401st Operations Group was activated Upon activation, the 401 OG was bestowed the lineage and history of the 401st Fighter-Bomber Group. The 401 OG was assigned control of the 614th Fighter Squadron, however the control of the squadron was brief as the 614th FS was inactivated on 1 January 1992.
Initially, the USAF decided to return the wing to the US and deactivate it. However, the remaining members of NATO lobbied to keep the 401st in the Southern Region OF NATO and offered to rebase it using NATO funds. In accordance with the 1988 agreement, the USAF portion of the base was returned to the Spanish government on 21 May 1992, with the 401st Fighter Wing being transferred to Aviano Air Base Italy without personnel or equipment.
At Aviano, the 401st controlled no assigned units at Aviano, instead supported rotating squadrons deployed there from other groups. The tenure of the 401st at Aviano AB was brief, as a result of Hurricane Andrew destroying Homestead AFB, Florida in August 1992. The 31st Fighter Wing, formerly at Homestead was transferred by Air Combat Command to Aviano on 1 April 1994, taking over the assets of the 401st Fighter Wing and deactivating the unit in place.
In June 2003 the 401st Air Expeditionary Wing was reactivated at Aviano Air Base, Italy, replacing the 16th AEW, deactivating so as to eliminate an overlap in heraldry with the 16th SOW at Hurlburt Field, Florida. The 401 AEW was inactivated sometime after 2004 (Date TBD).
- Established as 401st Fighter-Bomber Wing on 23 March 1953
- Activated on 25 September 1957
- Redesignated 401st Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 July 1958
- Redesignated 401st Fighter Wing on 1 October 1991
- Inactivated on 1 April 1994
- Redesignated 401st Air Expeditionary Wing and activated in June 2003
- Inactivated in 2004 (Date TBD)
- Attached to Air Division Provisional, 4481st, 1 January-30 June 1964
- 834th Air Division, 1 July 1964
- Sixteenth Air Force, 27 April 1966-1 April 1994; June 2003-Unknown (TBD)
- 90th Tactical Fighter Squadron: attached c. 5 December 1965—c. 7 February 1966
- 307th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 27 April 1966-15 July 1971
- 353d Tactical Fighter Squadron: 27 April 1966-15 July 1971
- 531st Tactical Fighter Squadron: attached 19 November—c. 10 December 1965
- 612th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 25 September 1957-3 November 1965; 15 July 1971-1 October 1991
- 613th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 25 September 1957-28 June 1991
- 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 25 September 1957-27 April 1966; 15 July 1971-1 January 1992
- 615th Tactical Fighter Squadron: 25 September 1957-27 April 1966.
- England AFB, Louisiana, 25 September 1957-22 April 1966
- Torrejon AB, Spain, 27 April 1966-21 May 1992
- Aviano AB, Italy, 21 May 1992-1 April 1994
- RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus Operation Iraqi Freedom, circa June 2003-2004 (TBD)
This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency. This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "http://www.aviano.af.mil".
- Maurer 1983, p. 286.
- Aviano AEW gets new designation, new commander
- Fletcher, Harry R., Air Force Bases Volume II, Active Air Force Bases outside the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1989. ISBN 0-16-002261-4.
- Mueller, Robert. Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1989. ISBN 0-912799-53-6.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories, 1947-1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
- Rogers, Brian, United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Midland Publications, 2006. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.