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410th Air Expeditionary Wing
410th Air Expeditionary Wing.PNG
410th Bombardment Wing emblem
Active 1962-1995, 2003-TBD
Country  United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Air Expeditionary
Role Combat Support
F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 410th Air Expeditionary Wing taxi in after a long reconnaissance mission at a forward-deployed location supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The United States Air Force's 410th Air Expeditionary Wing (410 AEW) is a provisional United States Air Force unit assigned to Air Combat Command (ACC) It may be activated or inactivated at any time.

The unit was known to be active in 2003 during Operation Iraqi Freedom, when it was activated by ACC to manage various strike assets of the Air National Guard; the Air Force Reserve; the British Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force to support a counter-SCUD mission in the western desert of Iraq. Elements of the 410 AEW were assigned to several air bases in Jordan to carry out its mission.[1]

The unit has also been known to be active in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The unit's World War II predecessor unit, the 410th Bombardment Group was an A-20 Havoc light Bomb Group assigned to Ninth Air Force in Western Europe. The unit helped provide teeth to the IX Bomber Command bombing efforts. It earned the title of the world's best bomb unit for combat accuracy and was the first unit trained in both day and night tactics. The 410th was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for its actions during the Battle of the Bulge for the effectiveness of its bombing, 23-25 Dec 1944, when the group made numerous attacks on German lines of communications. It returned to the United States after the end of the war in Europe, inactivated on 7 November 1945.

Reactivated in 1962, the 410th Bombardment Wing was a component organization of Strategic Air Command's deterrent force during the Cold War, as a strategic bombardment wing. It was inactivated with the closure of K. I. Sawyer AFB, Michigan in September 1995.

A pararescue jumper with the 410th Air Expeditionary Wing jumps from a C-130 into Afghanistan. (USAF photo by SSgt. Jeremy T. Lock)

Contents

History

For additional history and lineage, see 410th Air Expeditionary Operations Group
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Lineage

  • Established as 410th Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 15 Nov 1962
Activated on 15 Nov 1962. Scheduled to replace the 4042d Strategic Wing on 1 Feb 1963
Organized on 1 Feb 1963 assuming the resources (Manpower, Aircraft, Equipment, Weapons, & Facilities) of the 4042d Strategic Wing
Redesignated as 410th Wing on 1 Sep 1991
Redesignated as 410th Bomb Wing on 1 Jun 1992
Inactivated on 30 Sep 1995
  • Redesignated as 410th Air Expeditionary Wing and converted to provisional status, Sep 2002.

Assignments

Attached to: United States Central Command Air Forces, 2003-TBD

Bases Assigned

Major Weapons Sysems

Operational History

Cold War

The origins of the 410th Bombardment Wing come from the establishment of the 4042d Strategic Wing at K. I. Sawyer AFB, Michigan, on 1 August 1958. A Strategic Air Command, Eighth Air Force unit, it was equipped with B-52 Stratofortresses. Strategic Wings wings were established by SAC to disburse it's B-52 bombers over a larger number of bases, thus making it more difficult for the Soviet Union to knock out the entire fleet with a surprise first strike. A 4-Digit MAJCOM wing, it was considered a temporary, provisional unit.

In 1962, in order to retain the lineage of its MAJCOM 4-digit combat units and to perpetuate the lineage of many currently inactive bombardment units with illustrious World War II records, Headquarters SAC received authority from Headquarters USAF to discontinue its MAJCOM strategic wings that were equipped with combat aircraft and to activate AFCON units, most of which were inactive at the time which could carry a lineage and history.

The 4042d SW was redesignated as the 410th Bombardment Wing (410th BW) on 1 February 1963. Component units were also redesignated to historically-linked units of the newly-established wing. As under the Tri-Deputate organization, all flying components were directly assigned to the wing, no operational group element was activated. Therefore the history, lineage and honors of the 410th Bombardment Group were bestowed upon the newly established wing upon activation.

The wing conducted strategic bombardment training and air refueling operations on a global scale to meet SAC commitments. From 1964 to 1975, the wing supported combat operations over Vietnam by rotating B-52 and KC-135 flight crews to Guam and Okinawa.

Having been reassigned directly to Eighth Air Force on June 8, 1988, the wing was redesignated the 410th Wing (410 WG) on September 1, 1991 or in October 1991 (two reliable sources differ) when the wing implemented the objective wing concept. On June 1, 1992, the 410th Bomb Wing was assigned to the new Air Combat Command. The wing adapted the tail code "KI" for its aircraft.

The KC-135A equipped 46th Air Refueling Squadron was reassigned to the Air Mobility Command 305th Operations Group at McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey on June 1, 1992, leaving the wing with only the 644th Bomb Squadron with B-52Hs.

The B-52s were transferred to both the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB, North Dakota and the 2nd Bomb Wing at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana on November 21, 1994, in preparation for the wing being inactivated on September 30, 1995 when K. I. Sawyer was closed by BRAC.

Modern era

The 410th Air Expeditionary Wing was activated as part of the Global War On Terror. It was based at Azraq, Jordan and H-5, Jordan. Fighting alongside their fully integrated special operations ground task forces, the 410 AEW's pilots, flying General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, pursuing enemy equipment, personnel, and high-value targets, including regime leadership. Other aircraft assigned to H-5 included HC-130 Hercules and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters in support of USAF Pararescue personnel. H-5 also was the location for one of a few U.S.Army Patriot batteries to protect Israel from SCUD attack.

Upon arrival of the A-10 Thunderbolt II's to H-5, the Jordanian government requested the aircraft be relocated to another bare base further north on the Iraqi border citing health concerns due to the uranium tipped 30mm munitions used by its G8/A Avenger Gatling gun. Personnel had to convoy tons of ammunition from K-5 to the northern base to support the A-10 relocation.

During the operation, the Jordanian government denied U.S. troops were stationed at H-5. This created a lot of concern with Jordanian military personnel stationed at Shahid Muafaq Al-Salti Air Base during the initial stages. As they were being told on television and radio there are no U.S. troops on Jordanian soil, USAF C-17 aircraft were arriving on a daily bases with personnel and supplies. Out of confusion, Jordanian Security Forces documented everything leaving the aircraft. U.S. personnel removed labels and explosive decals from the containers, as not to aggravate the situation.

American troops initially were not allowed to carry weapons in plain sight. So they carried their Berreta 9mm handguns hidden in their wastebands for protection and hid their M-4 carbines from view in their vehicles.

U.S military personnel were housed at two tent cities, one on Shahid Muafaq Al-Salti Air Base proper, and another large tent city located about one mile away near the base, which contained the majority of personnel.

In the first month of their deployment, U.S personnel faced occasional hostile action at H-5. During one early morning incident, an explosion occurred adjacent to the tent city perimeter rocking the base. A-10 aircraft initially assigned to H-5, were dispatched from their northern base to confront the threat. Upon arrival, the aircraft spotted a vehicle in the open desert near the tent city. Pilots observed a man holding a cylindrical shaped object, throw it into his truck, and flee. Pilots requested permission to open fire on the vehicle, but the request was denied. After this incident, Jordanian Special Forces personnel were positioned around the tent city in HMMWV's with 50 cal. machine guns to protect personnel. On a nightly basis, personnel reported seeing flares, aka "slap flares", being fired near the base in the distance. After the first incident, Jordanian Intelligence response was U.S. personnel merely saw lights falling off a construction crane. During another incident, U.S. security personnel reported hearing and seeing protesters at the Shahid Muafaq Al-Salti Air Base perimeter. Jordanian Intelligence explained that personnel heard fans at a nearby soccer field cheering and it was not protesters at all. One evening a security tower reported machine gun fire coming from a road nearby toward their position. Jordanian Special Forces returned fire with their 50 cal. machine guns and quelled the threat. Jordanian Intelligence the next day explained that personnel merely saw someone firing into the air at a nearby restaurant where a wedding party was being held. Throughout the deployment numerous security posts reported persons approaching their posts in the night and fleeing once challenged. Jordanian Intelligence could not explain these incidents.

Given the fact that the 410th AEW was supporting special forces, and that RAF Canberras referred to below were based at Azraq, Jordan,[2] it appears that during the major combat operation phase at least, one of the bare bases was Azraq (also a Jordanian Air Force base).

'..The definite answer was given by U.S. military personnel. The key were only a handful posts from 410th AEW personnel via their public and non-secured web and e-mail accesses - not only to family members and friends, but also to open forums, alumni websites and church websites. In all cases the main part of the related e-mail address was …@azab.aorcentaf.af.mil (azab = Azraq Air Base, aorcentaf = Area of Responsibility, Central Command Air Forces, af = Air Force, mil = Military). The related e-mail address for Prince Hassan Air Base (or H5) was …@phab.aorcentaf.af.mil.

And so, it's finally clear: The 410th AEW and their assigned F-16s were definitely deployed to Shahid Muafaq Al-Salti Air Base near Azraq, called Azraq AB by U.S. CENTAF..'[3]

In total, during 2003, the wing flew 9,651 fighter and attack hours in twenty-six days flying counter-tactical ballistic-missile missions and never left the special operations forces in western Iraq without air cover. Often flying in extremely hazardous conditions in and around Iraq, the wing's crews generated 2,547 sorties, providing around-the-clock, time-sensitive targeting, interdiction, OCA, CAS, ISR, and CSAR missions deep within enemy territory. These missions were flown from bare bases with little supporting infrastructure and necessary logistics. The wing accurately employed more than 600 precision-guided munitions and expended a total of 800,000 pounds of weapons. In addition to eliminating TBM support equipment, the wing is credited with destroying aircraft, armored vehicles, artillery pieces, surface-to-air missile systems, ammunition supply dumps, radars, and enemy troops.

The wing is also credited with the destruction of two Ba'ath Party headquarters buildings in western and central Iraq. Although the wing was engaged in more than 200 troops in contact scenarios, there were no fratricide events. During Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, 410th personnel supplied thirty F-16s, four HH-60s, four HC-130s, eight RAF GR.7 Harriers, and two PR.9 Canberras with 130,000 gallons of fuel per day for twenty-three days.

References

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

Notes

  1. ^ Steven Davies & Doug Dildy, 'F-16 Fighting Falcon Units of Operation Iraqi Freedom,' Osprey Publishing, Osprey Combat Aircraft 61, 2006, p.70
  2. ^ Canberra PR.9 by Brett Green (Xtrakit 1/72
  3. ^ F-16.net - Operation Iraqi Freedom (F-16 Combat History)

Bibliography

External links


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