December 17, 2008 (by 127th Wing Public Affairs) - Michigan Air National Guard's 107th Fighter Squadron flew its last F-16 sortie yesterday afternoon as the unit prepares to transition to the A-10 aircraft and mission.
USAF F-16C block 30 #86-0235 of the 107th FS on static display at the 2007 Sheppard AFB open house held on October 20th, 2007. [Photo by Jason Hyatt]
The fighter jets will leave the base at the end of December, flown by Indiana Air National Guardsmen to their new home at Ft. Wayne Air National Guard Base. Now, 24 A-10 aircraft will be assigned to the base.
Major Brian Davis, a pilot with the 107th Fighter Squadron, explains their new mission.
"The F-16 is a multipurpose aircraft. It can do many things. The A-10 is designed primarily for Close-Air Support. It was created to work and support the Soldiers and Marines on the ground. If that is the mission that needs to be done - and it is - then that's the mission we want to do."
The 127th Wing and its predecessor units in the Michigan Air National Guard have been flying "F" designated aircraft since 1950 when local Guardsmen began flying the F-84 Republic Thunderjet. Since then, the wing has flown the F-86, RF-84, F-89, F-100, RF-101, F-106, F-4 and F-16 aircraft.
The Michigan Air National Guard F-16s have flown in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Northern Watch, Operation Noble Eagle, and Operation Iraqi Freedom, being the first U.S. F-16 unit stationed inside Iraq in 2004 - instrumental to the Marine ground forces in the Fallujah battles that year.
Capt. David Wright, an intelligence officer with the unit, describes, "In 2004, our unit was assigned to Kirkuk, Iraq. It was unprecedented to bring F-16s into that austere environment. But we went in there and on the very first day, we had planes in the air. All the training, all the money spent to make sure that we were ready, all the work preparing - it all paid off. It was one of the most important things I have ever done in my life."
The 107th FS
also deployed a second time in support of OIF in 2007, performing a significant role in the battle of An Najaf in January of that year.
This transition is the last of the changes brought to the 127th Wing from the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure commission. Earlier in the year the wing converted its airlift mission of C-130s to the KC-135 Stratotanker refueling mission. The wing also stepped away from the Air Soverieignty Alert mission in October, preparing for the drawdown of the F-16s.
The 107th Fighter Squadron first took possession of an F-16 aircraft in late 1989. The squadron was certified mission-ready with the aircraft in early 1990. Prior to the upcoming transition mandated by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure commission, Selfridge had 15 F-16 aircraft assigned.