480th Fighter Squadron

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480th Fighter Squadron
480th FS F-16Cs in Bulgaria 2010.jpg
Squadron F-16C Fighting Falcons in Bulgaria in October 2010.
Active 1942-1944, 1951-1956, 1957-1994, 2010-present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Fighter
Part of United States Air Forces in Europe
Garrison/HQ Spangdahlem Air Base
Nickname(s) Warhawks
Motto(s) Escadrille to Warhawks[1]
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm[1]
Lt Col Paul "Dino" Murray
480th Fighter Sq emblem (modified 20 August 2010)[1] 480 Fighter Sq emblem.png
Patch with 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron emblem (approved c. March 1959)[1] 480tfs.jpg

The 480th Fighter Squadron is an active United States Air Force unit. It is assigned to the 52d Operations Group, stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. It was reactivated on 13 August 2010.


World War II[edit]

Established by III Bomber Command as a B-26 Marauder training squadron.

Tactical Air Command[edit]

The 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron' was established in 1957 at England Air Force Base, Louisiana, as the 480th Fighter Bomber Squadron, flying North American F-100 Super Sabres. In 1959 it was inactivated again due to budgetary reductions. Three years later it was reactivated again under United States Air Forces in Europe, flying the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak. In 1963 it was re-equipped with F-100s, but withdrawn from France upon request of French government.

Vietnam War[edit]

Reassigned to Hollomon AFB, New Mexico (USA), it was re-equipped with F-4C Phantom II fighters. The squadron was deployed to Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, in 1966 as part of USAF buildup in Southeast Asia and was engaged in combat operations, primarily over North Vietnam, from 1966 to 1971. In November 1967, a member of the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Capt. Lance Sijan, ejected his disabled aircraft and was badly injured in North Vietnam. Despite his injuries, he evaded enemy forces for more than 40 days and then, when captured, managed to escape briefly. Captain Sijan later died in a prison camp and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.[2]

A 480th TFS F-4D at Phu Cat AB

In 1969 the squadron moved to Phù Cát Air Base (tail code: HK), South Vietnam, scoring nine MiG kills. The continued drawdown of United States forces from Vietnam resulted in the inactivation of 37th TFW at Phù Cát AB on 31 March 1970. The wing assets remained and were re-designated as the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing when the 12 TFW was moved without personnel or equipment from Cam Ranh Bay Air Base on 1 April 1970, to replace the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing and its units. On 20 October 1971, the 480th TFS flew its last combat mission, which was also the last combat sortie for 12 TFW. 480 TFS F-4Ds were originally scheduled for redeployment to Holloman AFB, however, instead were distributed to bases throughout Southeast Asia: Clark Air Base, Philippines; Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base and Udon AB, Thailand; Da Nang AB; and Inspection and Repair as Necessary facilities (IRAN) at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base Taiwan. The 480 TFS was therefore inactivated, again.

European service[edit]

A 480th TFS F-4E, 1982.

The 480th began its service with the 52d Tactical Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, when it moved to the base in 1976, flying F-4D Phantom IIs, then F-4G Advanced Wild Weasels as part of the Wild Weasel mission. In 1987, the 480th started flying F-16C Fighting Falcon and became the USAF's first squadron to be equipped with the Block 50 F-16s in 1993. In 1994 the squadron was inactivated again as part of the post Cold War force reductions.

In April 2010 the 52nd Fighter Wing's strength was reduced by one third when 20 F-16Cs were transferred to other units.[3] As a result of the drawdown of F-16s, the 22d and 23d Fighter Squadrons were inactivated on 13 August 2010 and formed a single "new" squadron, the 480th Fighter Squadron.[2]

In March 2012, the 480th was sent to train with the Turkish Air Force in Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses.[4]


480th Bombardment Squadron
  • Constituted as the 480th Bombardment Squadron (Medium) on 9 July 1942
Activated on 15 July 1942
Disbanded on 1 May 1944
  • Reconstituted and consolidated with the 480th Air Resupply Squadron and the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron as the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 19 September 1985[1]
480th Air Resupply Squadron
  • Constituted as the 580th Aerial Resupply Squadron on 15 March 1951
Activated on 16 April 1951
Redesignated 580th Air Resupply Squadron on 5 November 1951
Inactivated on 18 October 1956
Redesignated 480th Air Resupply Squadron on 31 July 1985
  • Consolidated with the 480th Bombardment Squadron and the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron as the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 19 September 1985[1]
480th Fighter Squadron
  • Constituted as the 480th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 1 September 1957
Activated on 25 September 1957
  • Redesignated 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 1 July 1958
Inactivated on 1 April 1959
  • Activated on 30 April 1962 (not organized)
Organized on 8 May 1962
Inactivated on 17 November 1971
  • Activated on 15 November 1976
  • Consolidated with the 480th Air Resupply Squadron and the 480th Bombardment Squadron on 19 September 1985
Redesignated 480th Fighter Squadron on 1 October 1991
Inactivated on 1 October 1994
  • Activated on 13 August 2010[1]





  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Dollman, TSG Davis (October 13, 2016). "Factsheet 480 Fighter Squadron (USAFE)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Polesnak, 1 Lt Kathleen (August 24, 2010). "480th activated as Spangdahlem's newest F-16 squadron". 52d Fighter Wing Public Affairs. Archived from the original on February 24, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  3. ^ Gradishar, SRA Kali L. (April 26, 2010). "F-16 drawdown to begin". 52d Fighter Wing Public Affairs. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 
  4. ^ Knee, SSG Daryl (March 9, 2012). "U.S. pilots plant SEAD with Turkish counterparts". Anatolian Falcon Public Affairs. Archived from the original on August 2, 2013. Retrieved November 14, 2016. 


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

External links[edit]