February 29, 2020 (by TSgt. John Wilkes) - More than 300 Airmen with the 555th Fighter Squadron, also known as the “world-famous, highly-respected” Triple Nickel, completed the first leg of their deployment after departing Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar in late Feb. 2020.
Two USAF F-16s taxi on the flight line at Prince Sultan AB on February 26th, 2020. As a part of the 555th FS these jets will focus on combat and deterrence operations in the US Central Command area of responsibility. [USAF photo by SrA. Giovanni Sims]
The Triple Nickel is an F-16 Fighting Falcon squadron that provides combat airpower and performs air and space control and force application roles including air interdiction and close-air support in support of joint, NATO
, and combined operations throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility.
In late Oct. 2019, the squadron was tasked under the U.S. Air Force’s dynamic force employment model which enables rapid inter-theatre movement to project combat airpower across the globe. This tasking required the Triple Nickel to deploy from their home station at Aviano Air Base, Italy
to AUAB in less than a week.
“AUAB hadn’t seen F-16s in over a decade,” said Master Sgt. Nathan Tierney, assistant superintendent of the Triple Nickel maintenance unit. “We had to convert one of the parking ramps, which was built to house B-52’s, into a usable F-16 ramp in only a week. This included coordinating a parking plan with the safety office, installing grounding points, painting new taxi lines, and setting up tents for major maintenance.”
Despite these challenges, the Triple Nickel was able to begin flying and supporting missions shortly after landing at AUAB.
“Our Airmen took innovation and leveraged it into real-world results,” said Tierney. “Because our equipment and parts had not arrived yet and we were being tasked to support missions, we had Airmen scavenging parts from all the maintenance sections on base.”
Since AUAB is often home to a variety of aircraft, from C-130s and KC-135s to F-22s, Triple Nickel Airmen were able to collaborate with other units to get the job done.
During their time at AUAB, the Triple Nickel flew more than 840 sorties and nearly 5,000 hours in less than 120 days, directly supporting combat operations for Operations Spartan Shield and Inherent Resolve.
“The Triple Nickel is rapidly mobile, we’re lethal and we’re ready to deliver multi-role air-to-ground, air-to-air and standoff munitions anywhere, anytime,” said Lt. Col Beau Diers, commander of the 555 FS
, after arriving at AUAB.
Airmen with the Triple Nickel left AUAB knowing they made a difference.
“At the end of the day, we know we just added a small piece to the growing legacy of the world-famous, highly respected Triple Nickel,” said Tierney. “We’ll make it home knowing there’s one less bad guy walking around, one less casualty on the field, and one more objective secured because we put these jets in the sky and we’re darn proud of what we do.”
The Triple Nickel relocated to Prince Sultan Air Base, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the agile combat employment model designed to enable rapid intra-theatre movement to project combat power regionally. This enables the squadron to continue supporting the AFCENT mission of delivering decisive air and space power to maintain security and stability in the region.