538th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron

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538th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron
538th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron - Emblem.jpg
Emblem of the 538th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
Active 1943–1960; ???-Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
538th FIS Lockheed F-104A Starfighters, Hamilton AFB, California, 1958. Visible are 56-781 and 58-769
538th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron Lockheed F-104A-25-LO Starfighter 56-840 and 56-847. Aircraft assigned to Larson AFB, Washington, 1958; shown TDY at Luke AFB, Arizona

The 538th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron is provisional unt of United States Air Force. It is assigned to the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing, and is currently located at Kabul International Airport (KAIA), Afghanistan.


The squadron was activated by Air Education and Training Command. Its mission is the training and qualification of Afghanistan Air Force C-208 and C-130 flight engineers and loadmasters. Since November 2009, Airmen have been training Afghan pilots and loadmasters to conduct strategic and tactical airlift, airdrops and presidential support. Advisers have a clear goal to pass on to the Afghan airmen the skills to transport cargo, people and assets vital to their security.

The squadron is also part of NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan (NATC-A).


Activated as a III Fighter Command P-47 Thunderbolt replacement training unit during World War II, 1943–1944.

During the early years of the Cold War, activated in 1955 as an Air Defense Command interceptor squadron for the defense of the Grand Coolie Dam and the Hanford Atomic Energy Reservation, Washington State. Initially equipped with F-86D Sabre Interceptors; in the Spring of 1957, the 56th FIS began re-equipping with the North American F-86L Sabre, an improved version of the F-86D which incorporated the Semi Automatic Ground Environment, or SAGE.

The transition into the F-86L was short-lived however, as the squadron began transition into the "missile-witha-man-in-it", the Lockheed F-104A in May 1958, becoming the 4th ADC squadron equipped with the Starfighter. In addition, the squadron received the two-seat, dual-control, combat trainer F-104B. The performance of the F-104B was almost identical to that of the F-104A, but the lower internal fuel capacity reduced its effective range considerably.

However, the F-104A was not very well suited for service as an interceptor. Its low range was a problem for North American air defense, and its lack of all-weather capability made it incapable of operating in conjunction with the SAGE system. Service with the ADC was consequently quite brief, and the F-104As of the 538th FIS were transferred to the Air National Guard. With the transfer of the Starfighters, the 56th FIS was inactivated at Larson AFB on 1 July 1960.


  • Constituted 538th Fighter Squadron on September 24, 1943
Activated on October 1, 1943
Disbanded on April 10, 1944.
  • Reconstituted, and redesignated 538th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, on June 20, 1955
Activated on August 18, 1955
Discontinued on July 1, 1960
  • Re-constituted as 538th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron in provisional status, by Air Education and Training Command, 31 October 2008
Activated on 1 November 2008.





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

  • A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
  • Maurer, Maurer. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force: World War II. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1982.
  • USAF Aerospace Defense Command publication, The Interceptor, January 1979 (Volume 21, Number 1).

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