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|18th Aggressor Squadron|
|Active||1940-1946; 1952-1971; 1977-present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||Pacific Air Forces|
354th Fighter Wing
|Garrison/HQ||Eielson Air Force Base|
|Engagements||World War II|
|18th Aggressor Squadron emblem|
|18th Fighter Squadron emblem[note 2]|
The 18th Aggressor Squadron prepares combat Air Force, joint and allied aircrews through challenging, realistic threat replication, training, test support, academics and feedback.
Activated in 1940 as a Southwest Air District pursuit squadron, equipped with a variety of 1930s-era pursuit aircraft. Re-equipped with P-38 Lightning fighters and deployed to Alaska, engaged in combat during the Aleutian Campaign, 1942-1943. Remained in Alaska as part of the air defense forces until inactivated in August 1946.
Reactivated in 1952 as part of Air Defense Command as an air defense squadron, initially equipped with F-86A Sabre day fighters, initially being assigned to Minneapolis Airport, Minnesota with a mission for the air defense of the Upper Great Lakes region. Re-equipped in 1954 with F-89D Scorpions and moved to Ladd AFB, Alaska for interceptor duty in the Fairbanks area as part of Alaskan Air Command. Returned to the CONUS in 1957 and upgraded to F-102 Delta Dagger interceptors at the new Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan.
Reassigned to Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota in 1960 and received the new McDonnell F-101B Voodoo supersonic interceptor, and the F-101F operational and conversion trainer. The two-seat trainer version was equipped with dual controls, but carried the same armament as the F-101B and were fully combat-capable. Inactivated in April 1971 as part of the drawdown of ADC interceptor bases, the aircraft being passed along to the Air National Guard.
In 1997, elements of the 18th FS deployed to Singapore and Malaysia to take part in dissimilar air combat tactic training as part of Exercises Commando Sling and Cope Taufan, respectively. The Cope Taufan deployment marked the first time Pacific Air Forces' F-16s had flown against MiG-29s.
Later, the squadron deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, September-December 2000, in support of Operation Northern Watch. For this deployment, the squadron employed 5 F-16 aircraft and 110 personnel, conducting the first ever Combat Search and Rescue support tasking for an F-16 squadron.
The squadron's next deployment was to Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base from December 2001 to March 2002 to support simultaneous combat operations for Operations Southern Watch and Operation Enduring Freedom. They flew more than 3,200 hours in only 3 months, an amazing feat for the 142 Blue Foxes who deployed with only 10 aircraft. During that time, the 18th FS flew missions in support of Operation Anaconda, including one in the Shah-i-Kot Valley on 2 March when U.S. forces, engaged in a firefight with Taliban and Al Qaeda forces, called for aerial assistance. A number of Blue Foxes responded, dropping bombs with pinpoint accuracy on the opposing forces. Capt Jim Sears and Capt Andy Lipina, 18 FS pilots, received Distinguished Flying Crosses for their efforts. Lt. Col. Burt Bartley, the 18 FS commander at the time, received the Silver Star for strafing and dropping 500 lbs Laser-guided bombs on what would later be known as "The Battle for Roberts Ridge".
The squadron deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam in support of Operation Noble Eagle during March 2003. The unit also participated in Exercise Commando Sling in October 2003.
As part of the change from COPE THUNDER to Red Flag-Alaska, the 18th FS converted to the 18th Aggressor Squadron. This squadron trains in the same manner as the aggressors at Nellis Air Force Base, learning the flying styles and abilities of foreign air forces in order to train USAF pilots against realistic opposition. Aircraft changes entail sending all 18 of its Block 40 F-16 Fighting Falcons to Kunsan Air Base, Korea, and receiving 18 Block 30 F-16s from Kunsan.
In 2013, the Air Force, responding to the Department of Defense strategy guidance of December 2012, proposed consolidating all fighter units in Alaska at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. This would involve the move of the 18th from Eielson Air Force Base to Elmendorf. While the move was pending, in response to the sequestration of defense funds, the squadron's aircraft were grounded in the middle of April for a period of three months. The squadron move was strongly opposed by civic leaders from both Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska. The civic leaders were joined by the Alaska congressional delegation, who wrote language barring the use of funds in the Defense Appropriations Bill to move the squadron, and delayed the promotion of a lieutenant general until the Air Force addressed their questions concerning the move. The widespread opposition in Alaska to the squadron's move caused the Department of Defense to withdraw its recommendation and leave the squadron at Eielson.
Media related to 18th Aggressor Squadron (United States Air Force) at Wikimedia Commons
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