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56TH OPERATIONS GROUP

Posted 11/21/2013 Printable Fact Sheet

21FS  |  308FS  |  309FS  |  310FS  |  425FS  |  56OSS  |  56TRS  |  61FS  |  62FS  |  607ACS  |  63FS

Mission
: Train and produce the world's finest F-16 pilots and crew chiefs for the United States and allied forces. Train personnel and maintain resources to meet contingency and wartime tasking.

Commercial phone number: (623) 856-5950
Organizational email: 56og.ccea@luke.af.mil

Commander
Col. John T. Hanna

The 56th Operations Group has operational control and responsibility for the entire fighter-training mission at Luke. The group is composed of an operations support squadron, a training squadron, eight fighter squadrons of F-16 Fighting Falcons and two detachments.

21ST FIGHTER SQUADRON

Mission: Training the world's finest fighter pilots and maintenance technicians.

Commercial phone number: (623) 856-7127
Organizational email: 21fs.tss@luke.af.mil

Commander
Lt. Col. Paul B. Willingham

Congress approved the PEACE FENGHUANG Program in 1992 under the signature of former President George Bush. PEACE FENGHUANG is Chinese for "Phoenix," the mystical Egyptian bird that arose from ashes and is based on the fact that a similar program had been proposed but subsequently cancelled by President Jimmy Carter. The current program is in excess of $5.9 billion and is the second largest foreign military sales program in the history of the U.S. Air Force. Training foreign pilots is not new to Luke Air Force Base. The first foreign students to train in the "Valley of the Sun" were Chinese pilots during World War II. In February 1942, the first Chinese pilots were trained in the P-40 Warhawk, P-47 Thunderbolt and eventually the P-51 Mustang. These pilots had a major impact in the defense of China. Many of these pilots became members of a Taiwan squadron designated 21st Fighter Squadron "Blackjacks." The Blackjacks were one of the most successful squadrons during the war and were unmatched in their aerial victories against Japanese forces. Concurrently, the U.S. 21st Fighter Squadron was in the China theater attacking Japanese forces with the P-40 Warhawk and P-51 Mustang. It is in recognition of the exploits of both of these squadrons that the 21st Fighter Squadron "Gamblers" was activated at Luke 21st Fighter Squadron began training Taiwan pilots in February 1997, 55 years to the month that the first Chinese pilots began training here at Luke.

308TH FIGHTER SQUADRON
 
Mission: Provide the finest single-seat, single-engine F-16 fighter pilots for the combat Air Forces and produce top quality F-16 instructor pilots.

Commercial phone number: (623) 856-5583
Organizational email: 308fs.ccq2@luke.af.mil

Commander
Lt. Col. Christopher A. Bacon

The 308th was constituted Jan. 30, 1942, as the 308th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) and was activated at Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Ind. The 308th ranks tenth as the most highly decorated unit in Air Force history among the 152 fighter squadrons that were ever active. After five months of training in the P-39 Bell Aircobra, the unit joined the war in Europe when it was assigned to a base in England in June 1942. The squadron's aircraft did not accompany the unit to England and 308th pilots and technicians spent a very short two months of intensive training in flying and fighting in the British Spitfire. The squadron became operational and flew its first combat mission on Aug. 18, 1942, when it attacked enemy positions in occupied France. In November 1942, the unit moved to Gibralter and supported the allied invasion of North Africa. In February 1943, the Spitfires of the 308th supported allied efforts which halted General Rommel's advance on allied positions. In July 1943, Spitfires from the 308th provided support for Allied Forces as the Invasion of Italy began with the capture of Sicily. As Allied bomber forces operating from Italian soil began the strategic bombing of Axis petroleum and communications facilities in central Europe and the Balkans, the 308th was re-equipped with the North American P-51 Mustang to replace the shorter-ranged Spitfire. In August 1944, the P-51's were involved in the invasion of Southern France. In December 1944, the first destruction of a German jet fighter by a 308th P-51 occurred. By war's end, the 308th had earned two distinguished unit citations and was involved in eight campaigns. The squadron again pitted its aircraft against an enemy when it was assigned to Ben-Wah Air Base in Republic of Vietnam. For its efforts in Southeast Asia during the period Dec. 16, 1966, to Oct. 15, 1970, the 308th was awarded the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm. The 308th Fighter Squadron also won the Air Force Outstanding unit Award with combat "V" device. On Oct. 1, 1986, the squadron was re-designated a fighter squadron and re-equipped with the F-16A and F-16B. The 31 TFTW was the last active duty unit to fly F-16 A/Bs. The 308th was the first in the wing to transition to the Block 25 version of the F-16 C/D and subsequently to the Block 42 F-16 C/Ds. The 308th was first assigned to Homestead AFB, Fla., and then to Moody AFB, Ga.; and on April 1, 1994, Luke AFB became the home of the 308th Fighter Squadron.

309TH FIGHTER SQUADRON
 
Mission: Training the world's finest fighter pilots and maintenance technicians.

Commercial phone number: (623) 856-4207
Organizational email: 309fs.tss@luke.af.mil

Commander
Lt. Col. Stephane L. Wolfgeher

The history of the 309th began on Jan. 30, 1942, when the U.S. Army Air Corps activated the 309th Pursuit Squadron at Baer Field, Fort Wayne, Ind. After arriving in England in May 1942 the Wild Ducks were designated as the 309th Fighter Squadron, traded their P-39 Aircobras for British Spitfires, and began combat operations, achieving their first kill on only their second day of fighting. From August 1942 to July 1943 the Wild Ducks spearheaded air offenses over North Africa and later participated in the invasion of Italy. The 309th patrolled the sky over Italy in support of the ground war until March of 1944. They then acquired P-51 Mustangs and conducted bomber escort missions into Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Italy, and Germany. By May 7, 1945, the end of the European front of WWII, the 309th claimed 173 victories. Following World War II, the 309th moved to Langley Field, Va., and converted to the F-84 Thunderjet. In 1948 the squadron completed the first jet fighter transpacific deployment and, as part of the 31st Fighter Wing, earned the first Outstanding Unit Award ever presented. The squadron transitioned to the F-100 Super Sabre in 1957 and was re-designated as the 309th Tactical Fighter Squadron. The Wild Ducks deployed to Southeast Asia in 1966 and flew combat operations there until 1970. Returning to Homestead AFB, Fla., and the 309th traded the F-100 for the F-4 and flew the Phantom II until 1986, when they converted to the F-16 Fighting Falcon. The Wild Ducks evacuated to Shaw AFB, S.C., in August 1992, narrowly escaping the devastation of Hurricane Andrew, and remained there until their deactivation Dec. 31, 1993. The Air Force reactivated the squadron April 1, 1994, as part of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB, Ariz., where they continue operations today. The Wild Ducks produced 14 aces over the years totaling 161 kills between them. The 309th also received numerous awards, including two Distinguished Unit Citations, one Presidential Unit Citation, two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards with Combat "V" Device, two Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards, and one Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm. In addition, the Wild Ducks earned 25 campaign streamers from World War II through Southeast Asia. The squadron emblem is a 1944 Walt Disney production copyrighted design. It symbolizes the fighter mission celestial navigation pioneered by this squadron, its around-the-clock mission readiness, and its striking power.

310TH FIGHTER SQUADRON
 
Mission: Training the world's finest fighter pilots and maintenance technicians.

Commercial phone number: (623) 856-7730
Organizational email: 310fs.cc@luke.af.mil

Commander
Lt. Col. Jon S. Wheeler Jr.

The 310th FS was constituted Jan. 21, 1942, as the 310th Pursuit Squadron (interceptor) and was activated Feb. 9, 1942, at Harding Field, La., where it flew the P-39 and P-40 aircraft. From November 1943 until March 1962, the 310th served extensively throughout the Pacific theater supporting Allied forces in World War II and the Korean Conflict. During this time, the squadron flew the P-47, F-84, F-86 and the Matador aircraft. In March 1962, it was inactivated at Osan Air Field, Korea. Re-designated the 310th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron Dec. 1, 1969, it was reactivated 15 days later at Luke AFB and flew the A-7D until its transition into the F-4 in 1971. The 310th TFTS transitioned into the F-16 in 1982 and became the 310th Fighter Squadron Nov. 1, 1991. The unit, which adopted its original "Tophat" name in September 1987, has earned two Distinguished Unit Citations, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Korea Presidential Citation and nine Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards. The 310th FS converted to the new LANTIRN (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night) F-16CG, Block 42 aircraft in May of 1989. As the Air Force's first and only full-up F-16 LANTIRN squadron, the 310th FS started formal course training in the new aircraft in July of 1989. In 1997, the Tophats were chosen to begin the first USAF F-16 Forward Air Controller-Airborne training and to train F-16 pilots with Night Vision Goggles. They are now training pilots with MATIRN (Medium Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night). These capabilities are critical to U.S. Air Force combat airpower, and when combined with MANTIRN, make the 310th Tophats one of the most combat capable squadrons in the world.

425TH FIGHTER SQUADRON
 
Mission: Develop and mature operational combat capability to achieve RSAF mission.

Commercial phone number: (623) 856-6152
Organizational email: 425FS.CCQ@luke.af.mil

Commander 
Lt. Col. Kevin Cruikshank

Constituted as the 425th Night Fighter Squadron Nov. 23, 1943, and activated Dec. 1, 1943, the 425th was originally assigned to the 481st Night Fighter Operational Training Group, Orlando Air Base, Fla. The unit was reassigned, beginning Jan. 30, 1944, to bases in California before arriving at its first European station at Chormy Down, England, May 26, 1944 as a unit of 9th Air Force. After being reassigned to various bases in England, the 425th settled at its first home base on the European Continent at Vannes, France, Aug. 18, 1944. During the air war in Europe, the 425th flew the YP-61, A-20, P-61 and P-70 aircraft. The unit was at several locations in California between Sept. 9, 1945 and Sept. 1, 1946, before arriving at McChord Field, Wash. The 425th was inactivated Aug. 25, 1947. The unit was reactivated at Williams AFB, Ariz., on Oct. 15, 1969 as the 425th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron and was assigned to the 58th Tactical Fighter Training Wing at Luke AFB, Ariz. The squadron's new mission was to train aircrews from friendly nations to fly and fight in the F-5. The first F-5E Tiger II was delivered to the 425th April 6, 1973. The 425 TFTS was reassigned to the 405th Tactical Training Wing as of Aug. 29, 1979 and the unit was activated at Luke. In June 1989, the squadron's F-5 training program terminated after having produced 1,499 graduates. The 425th was inactivated Sept. 1, 1989. The squadron was reactivated under the designation 425th Fighter Squadron Dec. 30, 1992. The squadron's current mission is to provide advanced weapons and tactics continuation training for Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 pilots and maintenance personnel. RSAF pilots and maintenance personnel are assigned to the 425th for two years, during which they receive advanced tactics training, participate in RED FLAG, shoot live missiles at COMBAT ARCHER, and deploy to locations throughout the United States to participate in composite operations and dissimilar air combat exercises.

56TH OPERATIONS SUPPORT SQUADRON 

Mission: Provide multi-level operational support to the 56 FW and Associate Units.

Commercial phone number: (623) 856-5960
Organizational email: 56oss.tss@luke.af.mil

Commander 
Lt. Col. Keith Rockow

The 56th Operations Support Squadron is responsible for providing "world class" support to the 56th Fighter Wing training mission. Functions within the OSS include airfield management, air traffic control, intelligence, flight records, current operations, training, life support, weapons and tactics, plans and mobility, and weather. The 56 OSS provides airfield management services, air traffic control, weather forecasting and warning services, weapons and tactics expertise, aircrew training management, aircrew life support training, intelligence support, operations scheduling, and flight records management for a 10-squadron fighter operations group. Additionally, the OSS operates an intelligence formal training unit for the entire F-16 intelligence community and manages an annual flying hour program of over 50,000 hours and 38,000 sorties.

56TH TRAINING SQUADRON 

Mission: Provide academic and ground-based instruction to support training of the world's finest F-16 pilots.

Commercial phone number: (623) 856-5723
Organizational email: 56trs.tss@luke.af.mil

Commander 
Lt. Col. Matthew Liljenstolpe

The 56th Training Squadron provides academic and ground based instruction to support training the world's finest F-16 pilots. The 56th TRS trains almost one-half of all the Air Force's new fighter pilots each year. It conducts F-16 academic and device training in accordance with major command formal syllabi including initial instruction, transition courses, senior officer courses, Thunderbird/aggressor pilot instruction, forward air control, night systems and Block 50 specialized conversion courses. The 56th TRS also provides academic, simulator and live mission training for more than 75 upgrading weapons directors annually. All 56th TRS training is conducted across six facilities on Luke and the Papago Park military reservation in central Phoenix. This squadron provides Air Force acceptance and quality control of courseware and manages all international military student affairs and aircrew training devices for the 56th FW.

61ST FIGHTER SQUADRON

Mission:
Train the world's finest F-35 pilots.

Commander
Lt. Col. Michael Ebner

The 61st Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) was constituted Nov. 20, 1940. It was activated Jan. 15, 1941, in Savannah, Ga., training in P-39 Aircobra and P-40 Warhawks. The 61st later moved to Charlotte, N.C., in May 1941 and again to Charleston, S.C., in December 1941, to help defend the East Coast.In November 1942, P-47 dive test pilots achieved 725 mph, faster than the speed of sound. In 1944, it was recognized as the first fighter squadron in the European theater to score over 100 victories. During 1943 to 1945, the 61st produced 19 Aces, the highest of any squadron in Europe, destroying 248 aircraft in the air and 67.5 aircraft on the ground. It was deactivated October 1945 at Camp Kilmer, NJ and reactivated at Selfridge Field, MI training in P-47's while transitioning to P-51 Mustangs. In April 1950, the 61st transitioned to the F-80 Shooting Star and later was the first squadron to fly the F-86A Sabre. The 61st was deactivated July 25, 1960, at Truax Field, WI flying the F-102 Delta Dagger. In June 1975, the 61st was reactivated at MacDill AFB, Fla., flying the F-4 Phantom (later the F-4D). In April 1980, the flying mission changed to the F-16 A/B Fighting Falcon. The 61st transitioned in June 1988 to flying the F-16 C/D and the squadron was deactivated at MacDill AFB in January 1994. The squadron was reactivated on April 1, 1994 at Luke AFB, Ariz., replacing the former 314th Fighter Squadron flying the F-16 C/D Fighting Falcon. The squadron's current mission is to train the best F-16 pilots in the world. Their nickname is "Top Dogs." The squadron stood down August 27, 2010 and reactivates as of today. The 61st will be Luke AFB's first squadron to fly the F-35A, the Air Force's newest fighter.

62ND FIGHTER SQUADRON

Mission: Graduate flight pilots who meet or exceed syllabus standards and their gaining units' expectations. Teach the B-course students what it means to be a fighter pilot. Actively promote quality of life and provide opportunities for personal and professional growth. 

Commercial phone number: (623) 856-6915
Organizational email: 62FS.CCA@luke.af.mil

Commander 
Lt. Col. Shamsher Mann

With American involvement in World War II looming on the horizon, the 62nd Fighter Squadron was constituted as the 62nd Pursuit Squadron as part of the 56th Pursuit Group at Savannah Air Base, Ga., on Jan. 15, 1941. The squadron immediately began training for its wartime missions, rapidly transitioning through the P-35, P-36, P-39, and P-40 aircraft. On Dec. 7, 1941, the 62nd stepped up to defend the Northeastern United States from anticipated enemy air attack while it converted to the P-47 aircraft and prepared to deploy overseas. The squadron arrived in England Jan. 9, 1943, and was declared operationally ready two months later and flew its first combat missions April 13. Two years later, the 62nd had emerged as one of the premier fighter squadrons in Europe. As the newly organized United States Air Force developed a new mission, so did the 62nd. Flying the P-51 and P-80, the squadron performed escort duty for the Strategic Air Command bombers, deploying to Alaska and Europe in this role. In 1948, "Spike" converted to the interceptor role, a mission the squadron would maintain until 1971. Stationed in the northern tier of the United States, the 62nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron flew the P-80, F-86 and F-101 on patrol against the ever-present Soviet bomber threat. A highlight from this era was the squadron capturing top F-101 squadron honors at the William Tell 1965, USAF Worldwide Weapons Meet. On Sept. 1, 1974, the squadron began its long history as a fighter-training unit. Activating at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., the 62nd assumed the mission of training F-4 and F-106 weapons instructors at the United States Air Force interceptor Weapons School. The following October, the flag moved again; this time to rejoin the 56th Tactical Fighter Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., and began training F-4 crews for tactical units around the world. On Jan. 1, 1981, the squadron transitioned to the F-16 "Fighting Falcon" and continued to train fighter pilots until the squadron's inactivation May 12, 1993. The 62nd Fighter Squadron was reactivated March 18, 1994, at Luke Air Force Base, where it currently flies the F-16 Block 25 aircraft. Honors earned by the 62nd included two Distinguished Unit Citations, six Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards and seven Campaign Ribbons. 

607TH AIR CONTROL SQUADRON

Mission: To conduct formal initial qualification training (IQT) for Air Control Squadron operations crew personnel in C2 tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP). To provide understanding of theater level execution and increase mission effectiveness through mission crew and aircrew interface.

Commercial phone number: (623) 856-6007
Organizational email: 607acs.css@luke.af.mil

Commander
Lt. Col. Charles E. Jones

The 607th Air Control Squadron provides in-garrison radar control to flying units operating in local airspace. It operates and maintains radar and communications worth $85M to train highly-qualified Weapons Directors and Surveillance Technicians in preparation to fight our nation's next war and stand in support of future CAF training needs. The 607th ACS supports 56th Fighter Wing aircrew training with radar control. It also supports the 355th Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, the 162nd Fighter Group at Tucson IAP, and the 944th Fighter Wing at Luke AFB.

63RD FIGHTER SQUADRON

The 63rd was activated Jan. 15, 1941, at Savannah Air Base, Ga., as the 63rd Pursuit Squadron. It was originally assigned to the 56th Pursuit Group, which, like many pursuit squadrons organized in the early 1940s, initially flew Curtis P-35 and P-36 Hawks. A year later the 63rd came under control of the 1st Interceptor Command and switched to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawks. A few months later it was re-designated a fighter unit and began flying the new Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. In 1943, the 63rd moved to Camp Kilmer, N.J., then to England where it became one of the most successful squadrons in the USAAF during WWII. Flying escort for fighter sweeps ahead of U.S. bomber fleets, the pilots destroyed 167.5 enemy aircraft in the air and 110 on the ground. After Germany's surrender, the 63rd returned to Camp Kilmer until inactivation on Oct. 18, 1945. A year later, it reopened with the 56th FG at Selfridge Field, Mich., and briefly transitioned to the North American P-51 Mustang. In 1947, the 63rd became one of the first fighter squadrons equipped with the new Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star. Three years later, North American F-86A Sabres arrived, and then in 1954, Northrop F-89 Scorpions became the 63rd's newest fighters. The squadron was again inactivated on Nov. 1, 1957, and reactivated June 30, 1975, as the 63rd Tactical Fighter Squadron at MacDill AFB, Fla. Its mission was to train pilots and weapons systems officers for the F-4 Phantom II. The name changed slightly, but the mission stayed the same when the F-16A Fighting Falcon arrived and the 63rd became a tactical fighter training squadron in 1981.On March 12, 1993, the 63rd Fighter Squadron transferred to Luke AFB, where it now flies the Block 42, F-16CG. Campaigns the "Panthers" have supported include the Normandy Invasion, Battle of the Bulge, Remagen Bridgehead and Invasion of Holland. Honors earned by the 63rd include two Distinguished Unit Citations, seven campaign streamers and the American Theater Service streamer.

The 63rd Fighter Squadron stood down May 22, 2009, and realigned with the 310th Fighter Squadron "Top Hats" to remain on base as a piece of Luke's history.

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