The 555th FS started receiving the first F-16s in 1994. The airframes came from the disbanded 512th and 526th FS at Ramstein AB in Germany and were all block 40 airframes. The units tasking was mainly an air-to-ground mission. However, since the disbandment of these Ramstein AFB units, there was also a strike task that had to be transferred. So the squadron was also earmarked for this task. In 1994 the war in the Balkan region was still at hand and therefore the squadron quickly received the necessary equipment to conduct operational missions. All the missions regarding the Balkan's were flown from Aviano AB, so will not show up in the list of deployments below.
During Operation Deny Flight, the squadron participated from its home base starting September 1st, 1994 to December 20th, 1995. This was an operation in support of the UN-led UNPROFOR troops stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Different nations took part in this operation. One of the more noteworthy episodes in the 555th FS history during this operation is the loss of Scott O’ Grady after being shot down by an SA-6 missile over Serbia on June 2, 1995. He survived for 6 days in enemy territory before being rescued. This was the only F-16 the squadron lost during the air operations over the Balkan region.
An addition to Deny Flight was Operation Deliberate Force to which the 555th FS was able to operate from its home base in Aviano. Campaign started on August 25th, 1995 and ran till to September 20th, 1995. This operation only lasted for a couple of weeks. It was to show force to the Serbian authorities. Operation Deny Flight continued afterwards as noted above till near the end of 1995.
Deny Flight was replaced by Operation Decisive Edge. F-16s from the 555th FS were able to maintain a presence while operating from home base. Operation Decisive Edge began on December 21st, 1995 and was a follow-on to Operation Deny Flight, which the squadron participated in the previous year. The operation was a United Nations mandated no-fly zone for the airspace over Bosnia-Herzegovina. On December 21st, 1996 Operation Decisive Edge transitioned to Deliberate Guard.
When the UN forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina changed their mandate resulting in a name change from IFOR to SFOR, also the air operations were given another name. Ultimately, 'Deliberate Guard' formed the air asset for the SFOR troops. This ran till June 20, 1998.
USAF F-16C block 40 #89-2023
from the 555th FS gets ready to touch down after a demo display during the 2010 Farnborough International Air Show on July 21st, 2010. [USAF photo by SSgt. Jerry Fleshman]
Operation 'Deliberate Forge' was the successor of operation 'Deliberate Guard'. When the SFOR troops were reorganized into a smaller force, the covering air campaign also received a new name. The 555th FS continued to provide air coverage over Bosnia-Herzegovina. Running till February 28, 1999 the 555th FS and its sister squadron had a short relief until Operation Allied Force began later next month.
During 1998 the unit joined Operation Northern Watch and was rotated through Incirlik AB, Turkey just as the other USAF units at that time. Since the squadron is situated in the southern region of Europe it is strategically positioned to take part of major operations both in Europe as in the Middle East.
During Operation Allied Force the 555th FS flew a serious amount of combat missions. This would finally be the last major air campaign in Bosnia-Herzegovina which began on March 24, 1999. Operation 'Allied Force' was the codename for the almost three month long air strikes against Serbia. The 555th FS had a major contribution to this operation, flying daily mission out of its home base. Although the operation officially ended by June 10, 1999, it took till year 2000 before it was felt that combat operations came to an end. This allowed time for the squadron to began rotating through the Middle East on a regular basis.
In between deployments the 555th Fighter Squadron has participated in many exercises including Red Flag 01-03, Red Flag Alaska 07-2, Javelin 2008, Iron Falcon 2008, Decimomannu 2009 and Juniper Stallion 2010
USAF F-16C block 40 #90-0772
from the 555th FS moves away after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft assigned to the 340th EARS while flying over Afghanistan in support of OEF on March 29th, 2011. [USAF photo by MSgt. William Greer]