By Senior Airman Madeline Herzog
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (AFNS) —
Airmen from the 55th Fighter Squadron and Fighter Generation Squadron recently returned home to Shaw Air Force Base after a six-month long deployment to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia.
Deployed as the 55th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and the Expeditionary Fighter Generation Squadron assigned to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, the “Shooters” fulfilled all air tasking orders, generating over 2,070 sorties and 9,400 hours of combat operations while in theater.
The squadrons’ main mission overseas was to direct and enable military operations and activities with allies and partners to increase stability and security across U.S. Central Command‘s area of responsibility.
“Our Shooters stepped up to any challenge they faced, and it showed over the course of the rotation,” said Lt. Col. Seth Taylor, 55th FS commander. “The flexibility the squadron gained from training at Shaw (AFB) paid dividends in projecting air power overseas.”
While deployed, the Shooters participated in the first bilateral training event between the U.S. and Pakistan since 2019, Falcon Talon 2022. This Agile Combat Employment exercise enabled multi-capable Airmen to operate and deliver combat air power from various locations.
Along with ACE exercises, the deployed Airmen enhanced their capabilities during a Forward Area Refueling Point exercise, which prepared Airmen to effectively refuel aircraft in austere locations when air-to-air refueling is not available or when fueling stations are not accessible. Additionally, maintainers learned how to refuel KC-135 Stratotankers assigned to the 384th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron providing them flexibility and helping them save manpower.
“Our Shooter maintenance team performed incredibly well and played a critical role in promoting regional stability while honing their multi-capable skills; to return to Shaw as greater force generators than when they left,” said Maj. Christopher Bennett, 55th FGS commander.
The 55th FS and FGS also engaged in a joint international exercise, Desert Falcon, during which the Israeli and American aircrews flew wing-to-wing missions and trained for various aerial scenarios all while building partnerships and interoperability between both nations. The exercise marked a significant step for the strategic cooperation and operational readiness for the Israeli Air Force and U.S. Air Force.
“The 20th Fighter Wing’s mission is to deliver combat F-16 airpower, develop Airmen and support Team Shaw — the 55th FS and FGS Airmen did just that while deployed, providing critical capabilities to our tenant unit Ninth Air Force (AFCENT) while expanding their multi-capable Airman skills aligned with 15th Air Force,” said Col. Kevin Hicok, 20th FW vice commander. “Thank you to the families and friends who supported their downrange loved ones and made sacrifices during this deployment. Team Shaw wouldn’t be successful without each and every one of you.”