425th Fighter Squadron

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425th Fighter Squadron
425th Fighter Squadron - Lockheed Martin F-16CJ Block 52 Fighting Falcon 97-120.jpg
425th Fighter Squadron - Lockheed Martin F-16CJ Block 52 Fighting Falcon 97-120
Active 1943-1947; 1969-1989; 1992-Present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Squadron
Role Advanced weapons and tactics continuation training for Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 pilots
Part of 56th Operations Group
Garrison/HQ Luke Air Force Base, Arizona
Engagements
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Streamer.jpg
    World War II EAME Theatre
Decorations
  • US Air Force Outstanding Unit Award - Stremer.jpg
    Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (14x)
  • Citation in the Order of the Day, Belgian Army: 6 Jun-30 Sep 1944
Insignia
Emblem of the 425th Fighter Squadron 425th Fighter Squadron.jpg

The 425th Fighter Squadron (425 FS) is part of the 56th Operations Group at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. It operates the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft conducting advanced fighter training for Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 pilots.

The unit was originally formed as the 425th Night Fighter Squadron in 1943. After training in the United States, it was deployed to Ninth Air Force in England in the spring of 1944, prior to the D-Day landings in France. During the run-up to D-Day, the squadron trained with Royal Air Force night fighter units against Luftwaffe raiders who intruded the night skies over England. After the landings in France, the mission of the squadron became the air defense of Allied liberated territory. During the Battle of the Bulge, it also flew day and night interdiction missions against enemy troop movements, brides and other targets of opportunity. It was inactivated in 1947.

The squadron was re-activated in 1969 as an F-5 Freedom Fighter training squadron for South Vietnamese Air Force pilots for transition training. After the end of United States involvement in the Vietnam War, it continued performed training of pilots from friendly nations who purchased the F-5E Tiger II as part of the United States Foreign Military Sales program. It was inactivated in 1989 when sales of the F-5 were ended.

Mission[edit]

The 425th Fighter Squadron's mission is to provide advanced weapons and tactics continuation training for the Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 pilots, weapon systems officers and maintenance personnel. RSAF aircrew and maintenance personnel are assigned to the 425th for two years, during which they receive advanced tactics training, participate in Red Flag exercise, shoot live missiles at Combat Archer, and deploy to locations throughout the United States to participate in composite operations and dissimilar air combat exercises.[1][2]

The tailband consists of black with red trim and red lion heads in a row. The lion head is in the same form that is in the RSAF insignia. The tail code is the standard 'LF' seen at Luke AFB but the country insignia is either RSAF or USAF depending on who owns the aircraft.[3]

History[edit]

World War II[edit]

The squadron was established on 23 November 1943as the 425th Night Fighter Squadron at Orlando AAB, Florida and activated on 1 December. It initially trained with the Douglas P-70 Havoc night fighter at Orlando, although it also trained with the Northrup YP-61 Black Widow. In January, training was interrupted when the night fighter school was moved from Florida to Hammer Army Airfield, California. After the relocation, the squadron completed its training in March 1944[4]

P-61A-10-NO 42-5569 "Tabitha" 425th NFS (RAF Scorton, England)

The 425th was deployed to Ninth Air Force in England, being assigned to RAF Charmy Down.. Charmy Down become the home of three night fighter squadrons (422d, 423d, and 424th), however the squadron arrived un-equipped as the production P-61 Black Widows were late in arriving. Subsequently, the squadron had its aircrews posted to various RAF night fighter and signal schools for theatre indoctrination. Meanwhile, as there was no sign of the P-61s. the pilots kept up their flight time on Cessna UC-78s and de Havilland Mosquitoes.[4]

The squadron was moved to RAF Scorton on 6 May. The original plan had been for all three night fighter squadrons to be on combat status with P-61s by D-Day, however the first P-61 didn't arrive until the end of May, about two weeks before the planned D-Day invasion of France. With the arrival of the German V-1 Flying Bombs over England after the invasion, the squadron trained with their Black Widows by intercepting the flying bombs. One of the greatest dangers involved in killing V-1s was the possibility of getting too close to the flying bomb when one fired at it, running the risk of damage to their own plane if the bomb exploded when hit.[4]

Finally, on 18 August 1944, the squadron was considered to be operationally ready for night interception and moved up to Maupertu Airfield (A-15) in France. In Frqance the squadron entered combat and began to perform night interception of ntruding Luftwaffe bombers and night fighters. As the number of enemy night intruders was small, the squadron also performed offensive interdictionary attacks on Axis forces in France and the Low Countries, 1944, moving eastward through a series of Advanced Landing Grounds until operating from captured Luftwaffe bases in Germany during the spring of 1945. The squadron remained in Occupied Germany until September 1945 when it was demobilized, its personnel returning to the United States.[4]

The unit was at several locations in California between 8 September 1945 and 1 September 1946, before arriving at McChord Field, Washington. The 425th was inactivated on 25 August 1947.[1]

Cold War[edit]

The unit was reactivated at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona on 15 October 1969 as the 425th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron and was assigned to the 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, replacing the provisional 4441st Combat Crew Training Squadron. Initially equipped with the F-5C Freedom Fighters of the 4441st, the squadron's initial mission was Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT) for South Vietnamese Air Force pilots in the aircraft. [3][5]

In 1973 with the end of the Vietnam War, the squadron was assigned the task of training the aircrews of nations that had acquired the Northrop F-5E Tiger II under the Mutual Assistance Pact (MAP). The first F-5E Tiger II was delivered to the 425th on 6 April 1973.[6] Although the USAF did not operate any F-5s at the time, the F-5E/Fs assigned to the 425th carried USAF serial numbers and were procured through normal aircraft procurement procedures and channels. Carried tail code "LZ".[3]

425th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron Northrop F-5B-50-NO Freedom Fighter 72-0439 Crashed near Tucson, AZ Jul 27, 1982 following collision with F-5 73-0899. All three occupants from both aircraft ejected but one was killed.

Training proceeded at Williams throughout the 1970s. The 425th TFTS was reassigned to the 405th Tactical Training Wing as of 29 August 1979 when the 405th was activated at Luke, although the squadron remained at Williams AFB. Pilots from over 20 nations who purchased the Tiger II were trained by the 425th.[6]

In the late 1980s, the fleet of the F-5s was getting rather worn out as a result of sustained exposure to the rigors of air combat maneuvering and training. The problem began with the loss of F-5F 73-0890 based at Williams AFB. It was lost in a training accident in which it broke in half during maneuvering, killing both the student and instructor pilot. An investigation later showed that the most likely cause of the accident was a failure in the upper fuselage longeron, probably a result of fatigue or corrosion. An inspection later showed that about a third of the fleet had cracked or fatigued upper longerons. Although no stateside aircraft were grounded they were restrictions placed on operations in which pilots were warned not to exceed a certain G-load. Some repair kits had to be devised to overcome these problems, and the estimated cost of repair of the entire fleet was beginning to exceed a billion dollars.[5]

In addition, the appearance of a new generation of Soviet fighters made it apparent that that F-5Es could no longer perform adequately against Warsaw Pact threats. In June 1989, the squadron's F-5 training program terminated after having produced 1,499 graduates, and the 425th was inactivated 1 September 1989.[1]

Modern era[edit]

On 30 December 1992, the 425th was reactivated at Luke AFB under the designation 425th Fighter Squadron “Black Widows.” The new mission of the 425th was providing advanced weapons and tactics continuation for Republic of Singapore Air Force's F-16 pilots and maintenance personnel. Aircraft had already arrived for the squadron in October and shortly after in the new year pilot training began in January 1993.[7]

An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the 425th Fighter Squadron, Luke Air Force Base flies over Cold Lake, Canada during the Maple Flag exercise June 4 2009.

Although the squadron has an American heritage, it was mix of both USAF and RSAF personnel and equipment. At first the squadron borrowed F-16A/B block 15s from the USAF in late 1992. This consisted of seven F-16As and two F-16Bs which were all borrowed. Most likely by coincidence, the Republic of Singapore Air Force ended up buying one of these F-16As years later that had been borrowed by them from the USAF. On 3 June 1998 the RSAF obtained F-16A #81-0677 as a GF-16A for ground maintenance/handling and weapons loading training. To complete the squadron, seven F-16A/Bs were sent from Singapore to join the squadron.[8]

In 1995 the squadron leased twelve USAF F-16C/D block 42s as their nine USAF block 15s were withdrawn from service. The seven F-16A/Bs owned by the RSAF flew back to Singapore during this time period as well. In the end, the USAF could not honor the lease as they needed the block 42s back. A deal was struck with Lockheed Martin to lease a dozen new-built F-16C/D block 52's (4 F-16Cs and 8 F-16Ds) with options to buy them later. The aircraft were leased for a 2.5 year period, for an estimated cost of USD $12.3 million. This program had no name assigned like the Peace Carvin FMS arrangement.[8]

RSAF pilots and maintenance personnel are assigned to the 425th FS for two years. During their tour of duty they receive advanced tactics training, participate in Red Flag, shoot live missiles at Combat Archer and deploy to locations throughout the U.S. to participate in composite operations and dissimilar air combat exercises.[7]

Lineage[edit]

425th Night Fighter Squadron patch during World War II
425th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron patch during the 1970s
  • Constituted as the 425th Night Fighter Squadron on 23 November 1943
Activated on 1 December 1943.
Inactivated on 25 August 1947
  • Re-designated: 425th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron on 22 August 1969
Activated on 15 October 1969
Inactivated on 1 September 1989
  • Re-designated: 425th Fighter Squadron on 1 December 1992.
Activated on 30 December 1992[9]

Assignments[edit]

Stations[edit]

Aircraft[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  1. ^ a b c 56 OG Fact Sheet
  2. ^ AFHRA 425 FS Page
  3. ^ a b c Martin, Patrick. Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History, 1994. ISBN 0-88740-513-4.
  4. ^ a b c d Northrop P-61 Black Widow—The Complete History and Combat Record, Garry R. Pape, John M. Campbell and Donna Campbell, Motorbooks International, 1991.
  5. ^ a b Baughter Northrop F-5E/F Tiger II with USAF
  6. ^ a b F-5: Warplane for the World, Robbie Shaw, Motorbooks, 1990
  7. ^ a b AFHRA 50th Operations Group
  8. ^ a b Baugher General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon for Singapore
  9. ^ a b c d AFHRA 425th Fighter Squadron Lineage and History

External links[edit]