June 10, 1998 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The U.S. Air Force's 52nd Fighter Wing, based at Spangdahlem AirBase, Germany, has been announced as the winner of the 1997 Colombian Award. This award is presented to the U.S. Air Force fighter wing which has made the most outstanding contributions to flight safety.
The 52nd Wing is the largest and most heavily tasked USAF wing in Europe. The composite fighter wing is composed of two F-16C squadrons, anA/OA-10 squadron and an F-15C squadron. The F-16 squadrons have a multirole assignment and specialize in the demanding Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) mission.
The SEAD mission was previously performed by dedicated F-4G Wild Weasels that have been replaced by single-seat block 50
F-16Cs employing the HARM anti-radiation missile and the HARM Targeting System (HTS) pod. In receiving the Colombian Award, the 52d Wing is recognized for havingflown more than 15, 000 sorties and 20, 000 flight hours from 49 locations in20 countries without a single Class A or B mishap for the period. Over3, 000 of these hours were flown in support of peacekeeping missions over Bosnia and Northern and Southern Iraq. The Wing's aircraft also participated in 35 exercises in Europe and the Continental U.S. and in dozens of airshows and celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of the Air Force. The Wing's foreign object damage (FOD) prevention program is particularly noteworthy.
In addition to operating from many different locations, the Wing operated from a parallel taxiway and a nearby base while the runway at its home base was being resurfaced. In spite of these challenges, FOD costs were reduced 46 percent front the previous year. This is the fourth time in the 1990s that a wing operating mainly F-16s has won the Colombian Award. The others were the 86th FW at Ramstein AB Germany (1991) and the 51st FW at Osan AB, Korea (1992 and 1993).