77th Fighter Squadron (USAF ACC)

"Gamblers" 

77 FS "Gamblers" (USAF ACC)
Status:
Active
Version: F-16C/D block 50
Role:Multirole, SEAD
Tailband: Red
Motto: Once A Gambler, Always A Gambler.
Badge: N/A

Sideview profile for 77th FS in 2007 with unit markings on the tail.

F-16 History

At a time when many USAF overseas squadrons were returning to the United States, many squadrons were being disbanded. The reason behind the reactivation of the 20th Fighter Wing was to keep the history alive of the Fighter Wing and its resident squadrons over those of the 363rd FW which deactivated and its squadrons. Along with the number change to both wing and squadrons at Shaw AFB there was also a block change for the F-16s with the introduction of the block 50 in 1994. The newly activating squadrons at Shaw, which included the 77th, 78th and 79th FS (the 55th FS became an F-16 squadron in 1997) were all receiving block 50s for the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) mission. This was a completely new mission for Shaw AFB. Not long after fomring in 1994, the 77th FS became the East Coast Viper demonstration team and in April of that year preformed a flight demonstration for US President Bill Clinton. Over the coming years the squadron continued to meet its air show flight demonstration requirements as well as it hectic deployment schedule to the Middle East.

For the SEAD mission the aircraft are equipped with the HARM Targeting System (HTS) and the AGM-88 HARM missile. With the development of more advanced targeting pods it became possible to deploy these airframes in the so-called Destruction of Enemy Air Defense (DEAD) mission. This improves the output of each mission dramatically with the aircraft being able to detect and destroy radar systems and also being able to destroy other dedicated targets.


Lt. Col. Tom Littleton, commander of the 20th OSS, flies F-16C block 50 #91-0377 from the 77th FS on February 23rd, 2007 in support of Col. James W. Hyatt's final flight as wing commander at Shaw AFB. [USAF photo by SSgt. Sarayuth Pinthong]

In 1996 the squadron went to Saudi Arabia for what become a very dramatic first combat deployment of the 77th FS with the F-16. The squadron was in the area for Operation Southern Watch, a UN sanctioned patrol of a no-fly zone over Southern Iraq. A terrorist attack was plotted and carried out against US forces stationed at Dhahran, Saudi Arabia on June 25th, 1996. The blast killed nineteen USAF personnel and heavily damaged or destroyed six high-rise apartment buildings. The 77th FS was at Dhahran at the time and as a result moved to Shaikh Isa AB in Bahrain shortly after the bombing.

Beginning in 1999, was a very time period for this high tempo squadron. No less than three major combat deployments in a short period of time with two to the Middle East, one for Operation Northern Watch and the other for Operation Desert Fox. It began with a deployment was Operation Allied Force, a massive air campaign to stabilize the Balkan states. During Operation Allied Force, F-16C (side profile at top) shot down a Serbian MiG-29 with an AIM-120B on May 4, 1999.

After the initial phases of the war in Iraq there has been less of a requirement for the SEAD mission so the 77th FS - and all Shaw AFB squadrons - had fewer deployments to the Middle East. With a five year break running from 2003 to 2008 the 77th FS had a break from combat deployments.

In 2008 the squadron had the honor to execute the first-ever combat deployment of a GBU-54 Laser JDAM against a moving enemy vehicle in Diyala Province. The squadron returned to Iraq in a regular interval afterwards.


USAF F-16D block 50 #91-0463 from 77 FS coming in at Nellis AB for attending the Red Flag 02-03 session. [Tailslides photo by Peter]

Aircraft Markings History

1994 - present

The tail consists of a red tailband with the word 'Gamblers' and the squadron logo included. The style of the graphics contained within have changed slightly over the years. The 'SW' tailcode (for Shaw) is in the center of the tail with the Air Combat Command logo in between them. The serial is situated on the base of the tail.


Unit History

  • 1918: Activation of the squadron in Waco, Texas
  • 1918: JN-4
  • 1918: JN-4 (Taliaferro Field, Texas)
  • 1918: JN-4 (Barron Field, Texas)
  • 1918: Disbanded
  • 1930: Activation of the squadron in Mather, California
  • 1930: P-12E (part of 20 PG)
  • 1932: P-12E (Barksdale Field, Louisiana)
  • 1934: P-26 'Peashooter'
  • 1938: P-36 'Hawk'
  • 1939: P-36 'Hawk' (part of 20 FG, Moffett Field, California)
  • 1940: P-40 'Warhawk' (Hamilton Field, California)
  • 1942: P-40 'Warhawk' (Wilmington, North Carolina)
  • 1942: P-40 'Warhawk' (Morris Field, North Carolina)
  • 1942: P-40 'Warhawk' (Drew Field, Florida)
  • 1942: P-39D 'Airacobra' (Paine Field, Washington)
  • 1943: P-39D 'Airacobra' (March Field, California)
  • 1943: P-38H/J 'Lightning' (Kings Cliffe [Eng.])
  • 1944: P-51C 'Mustang'
  • 1945: P-51D 'Mustang' (Camp Kilmer, New Jersey)
  • 1945: Deactivated
  • 1946: Activation of the squadron in Biggs, Texas
  • 1946: P-51K 'Mustang' (part of 20 FG)
  • 1946: P-51K 'Mustang' (Shaw Field, South Carolina)
  • 1948: F-84D 'Thunderjet' (part of 20 FBG)
  • 1951: F-84G 'Thunderjet' (Langley AFB, Virginia)
  • 1952: F-84G 'Thunderjet' (Wethersfield [Eng.])
  • 1955: F-84F 'Thunderstreak' (part of 20 FBW, Shepards Grove [Eng.])
  • 1956: F-84F 'Thunderstreak' (Wethersfield [Eng.])
  • 1957: F-100D 'Super Sabre'
  • 1958: F-100D 'Super Sabre' (part of 20 TFW)
  • 1970: F-111E 'Aardvark' (Upper Heyford [Eng.])
  • 1991: F-111E 'Aardvark' (part of 20 FW)
  • 1992: F-111E 'Aardvark' (part of 20 OG)
  • 1993: Deactivated
  • 1994: Activation of the squadron in Shaw, South Carolina
  • 1994: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 20 FW)

Deployments

'Southern Watch'
Dhahran AB, Saudi Arabia (June of 1996 to September of 1996)
Operation Southern Watch was an operation which was responsible for enforcing the United Nations mandated no-fly zone below the 32nd parallel in Iraq. This mission was initiated mainly to cover for attacks of Iraqi forces on the Iraqi Shi’ite Muslims. After the terrorist strike at Dhahran on June 25th, 1996 at the Khobar Towers the USAF moved the squadron to Shaikh Isa AB located in Bahrain.
'Southern Watch'
Shaikh Isa AB, Bahrain (February 18th, 1997 to June 20th, 1997)
This marked the second consecutive deployment to the Middle East for an Operation Southern Watch mission. The squadron deployed over 200 airmen.
'Desert Fox'
Ahmed Al Jaber AB, Kuwait (December 16th, 1998 to December 19th, 1998)
Operation Desert Fox was a four day operation against the Iraqi military to take out so-called weapons of mass destruction production sites. Mostly night missions were flown by the squadron.
'Allied Force'
Aviano AB, Italy (March 24th, 1999 to June 10th, 1999)
Operation 'Allied Force' was the codename for the almost three month long air strikes against Serbia. The 77th FS had a supporting contribution to this operation.
'Northern Watch'
Incirlik AB, Turkey (August of 1999 to October of 1999)
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.
'Southern Watch'
Shaikh Isa AB, Bahrain (April of 2000 to June of 2000)
Only half a year after their last deployment, the 77th FS was on the 'road' again. This time to Bahrain to fly support for Operation Southern Watch to guard the no-fly zone over southern Iraq.
'Northern Watch'
Incirlik AB, Turkey (January of 2001 to May of 2001)
This marked the second deployment of the squadron to Turkey to enforce the no-fly zone over northern Iraq. The 77th FS deployed a total of 280 airmen to Incirlik AB for this mission.
'Northern Watch'
Incirlik AB, Turkey (July of 2002 to September of 2002)
This marked the last deployment to Turkey for an Operation Northern Watch mission. The squadron deployed 150 airmen and flew over 1,000 sorties during this deployment.
'Iraqi Freedom'
Shaikh Isa AB, Bahrain (February of 2003 to May of 2003)
The 77th FS was in the front line during the invasion of Iraq in early 2003. The squadron performed non-stop air cover over Iraq during the advances of the ground troops. This entailed day and night time intercept and CAS missions.
'Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq (May 24th, 2008 to September 17th, 2008)
Deployed with a mix of 55th FS jets to Balad AB in Iraq. The 55th FS rotated through later on in 2008. During this deployment the 77th FS used the GBU-54 Laser JDAM for the first time.
'Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq (December 18th, 2009 to April 5th, 2010)
The 77th FS is put in the regular USAF rotation effort to fly units in and out to Iraq. This time the squadron deployed a total of 210 airmen and flew over 1,200 sorties.
'Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector'
Aviano AB, Italy (April 8th, 2011 to September 12th, 2011)
Shaw AFB, South Carolina was at the time tasked with being the Global Response Force. When the call came to deploy in late March it was tasked to the 77th Fighter Squadron which at the time was enroute to Nellis AFB, Nevada for an integration exercise. The aircraft landed at Nellis AFB, refueled and returned the same day. 166 Airmen and six F-16s departed for Spanghahlem AB, Germany in support of the liberation of Libya with the aircrafts SEAD capability. Two F-16s from the 77th Fighter Squadron made emergency landings on the island. The mission for the 77th Fighter Squadron lasted till September 10th when the squadron began the trip home. At that time, the 55th Fighter Squadron had replaced the 77th FS. Most aircraft returned with mission markings on the nose.
'Enduring Freedom'
Bagram AB, Afghanistan (October 26th, 2012 to April 23rd, 2013)
This marked the squadrons final deployment into this specific theatre. Returning from a Close Air Support, 77th EFS pilot Captain James Steel died in F-16C #00-0219 crashed on April 3, 2013.
'* Unknown deployment name *'
Muwaffaq Salti AB, Jordan (October 2014 to April 18, 2015)
Around 200 airmen deployed sometime in the week of October 12th to participate in attacking targets in ISIS held parts of Iraq and Syria. Sadly Captain William H. DuBois of the 77th Fighter Squadron died when his F-16 crashed in Jordan on November 30, 2014.
'* Unknown deployment name *'
Bagram AB, Afghanistan (October 26, 2017 to TBD)
77th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan to air support to Afghan and coalition forces on the ground.

F-16 Airframe Inventory

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