555th Fighter Squadron (USAFE)

"Triple Nickel" 

555 FS "Triple Nickel" (USAFE)
Status:
Active
Version: F-16C/D block 40
Role:Multirole, Attack, Strike
Tailband: Green
Motto: Once Green, Always Green
Badge: An eagle soaring on a green background.

Sideways profile for the 555th FS in 2007 with unit markings on the tail.

F-16 History

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]

Aircraft Markings History

1994 - present

The tail consists of a green tailband with the words 'Triple Nickel' inside it. The 'AV' tailcode (for Aviano) is in the center of the tail with the USAFE logo in between them on toned-down colors and the serial at the bottom of the tail.


Unit History

  • 1942: Activation of the squadron in McDill, Florida
  • 1942: B-26 'Maraudor' (part of 386 BG)
  • 1943: B-26 'Maraudor' (Lake Charles AAB, Louisiana)
  • 1943: B-26 'Maraudor' (Snetterton Heath [Eng.])
  • 1943: B-26 'Maraudor' (Boxted [Eng.])
  • 1943: B-26 'Maraudor' (Great Dunmow [Eng.])
  • 1944: B-26 'Maraudor' (Beaumont-sur-Oise [Fr.])
  • 1945: B-26 'Maraudor' (St. Truiden [Bel.])
  • 1945: A-26 'Invader' (Seymour Johnson field, North Carolina])
  • 1945: A-26 'Invader' (Westover field, Massachusetts])
  • 1945: Disbanded
  • 1964: Activation of the squadron in McDill, Florida
  • 1964: F-4C 'Phantom II' (part of 12 TFW)
  • 1966: F-4D 'Phantom II'
  • 1966: F-4D 'Phantom II' (part of 8 TFW, Udorn AB [Thai.])
  • 1966: F-4D 'Phantom II' (Ubon AB [Thai.])
  • 1968: RF-4C 'Phantom II' (part of 432 TRW, Udorn AB [Thai.])
  • 1974: F-15A/B 'Eagle' (part of 58 TFTW, Luke AFB, Arizona)
  • 1979: F-15A/B 'Eagle' (part of 405 TTW)
  • 1991: F-15E 'Eagle' (part of 58 OG)
  • 1994: Deactivated
  • 1994: Activation of the squadron in Aviano [It.]
  • 1994: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 31 OG)

Deployments

'Northern Watch'
Incirlik AB, Turkey [8 F-16s] (June of 1998 to October 30th, 1998)
Operation Northern Watch was a US European Command Combined Task Force (CTF) who was responsible for enforcing the United Nations mandated no-fly zone above the 36th parallel in Iraq. This mission was a successor to Operation Provide Comfort which also entailed support for the Iraqi Kurds. They were replaced by the 510th FS.
'Southern Watch'
Ahmed Al Jaber AB, Kuwait [10 F-16s] (June 13th, 2000 to September 15th, 2000)
Deployed with some 510th FS jets and all jets were left for the 555th FS pilots and crew when they arrived in June. The 555th FS stayed till September of 2000 and brought equipment back to Italy for both squadrons.
'Northern Watch'
Incirlik AB, Turkey (September 1st, 2001 to December 18th, 2001)
This marked the second deployment to Turkey for an operation Northern Watch mission. The squadron deployed 210 airmen for this occassion.
'Enduring Freedom'
Bagram AB, Afghanistan (February 28th, 2004 to June 5th, 2004)
This marked the first deployment of the 555th to Afghanistan. The squadron deployed 320 airmen to the scene for this mission. They took over from the 510th FS before heading back to Aviano themselves in June of 2004.
'Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq (September of 2005 to December of 2005)
Replaced the members of the 510th FS and aircraft were already in theatre from that deployment. Although this operation already ran since early 2003, the 555th was only in 2005 tasked to take up a Middle East rotation.
'Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq (April of 2006 to July of 2006)
This is the second time the squadron was tasked to head for the Middle East to take their tour in the regular USAF rotations into Balad AB.
'Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq (May 19th, 2007 to August 16th, 2007)
This marked the final mission of the 555th FS for Operation Iraqi Freedom. They relieved their sister squadron, the 510th, from duty.
'Enduring Freedom'
Bagram AB, Afghanistan (April 13th, 2011 to October 12th, 2011)
Based in Afghanistan as an Expeditionary Fighter Squadron along with F-15Es of the 389th EFS. At one point during Operation Hammer Down II from June 25 to 30, 2011 the squadrons dropped over 100 bombs in close-air-support along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Operation Hammer Down II was a coalition campaign meant to disrupt insurgents operations and training. All the time, unit memmbers and aircraft of the 555th FS (and the 31st FW) that didn't deploy back in Aviano AB, Italy were engaged in missions in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.
'Enduring Freedom/Freedom Sentinel'
Bagram AB, Afghanistan (April 2014 to present)
Replaced the 4th Fighter Squadron in support of continued operations for Operation Enduring Freedom. 555th Fighter Squadron F-16C #89-2068 departed the runway at Bagram AB on May 4th, 2015. Pilot was fine and aircraft was repaired easily.
'Operation New Dawn'
(unknown to October 29, 2015)
Need to confirm when the deployment started and location. Returned over October 29th to November 3rd, 2015.

F-16 Airframe Inventory

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