by Tech. Sgt. Robert Cloys
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
11/2/2015 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Airmen
assigned to the 388th Fighter Wing's 421st Fighter Squadron, known as
the "Black Widows", arrived at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Oct. 28 in
support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel and NATO's Resolute Support
During their six-month tenure at BAF, the squadron will assume the
responsibility of providing over-watch and close-air-support for ground
units in Afghanistan.
"We are incredibly excited to be here," said Lt. Col. Michael Meyer,
421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander. "This is what we train
for. We are here to support the ground commander's intent, wherever and
whenever they ask, save lives on the ground and help transition
Afghanistan to a stable and self-sufficient government."
The 421st FS is one of three fighter squadrons assigned to the 388th
Fighter Wing at Hill. The unit operates night-capable, advanced
targeting pod-equipped, F-16CMs. It deploys worldwide to conduct Day and
Night air superiority, precision strike, and Forward Air Controller
sorties employing laser-guided and inertially-aided munitions during
contingencies and combat.
According to Meyer, this will be the 15th and final F-16 deployment to
the area of responsibility since 1990 as they begin the transition to
the new F-35A Lightning II, the U.S. Air Force's latest fifth-generation
fighter. The F-35 will replace the U.S. Air Force's aging fleet of F-16
Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt II's, which have been the primary
fighter aircraft for more than 30 years, and will bring with it an
enhanced capability to survive in the advanced-threat environment in
which it was designed to operate.
The 421st FS last deployed to BAF from July 2009-January 2010, flying
over 1,800 sorties in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Now flying
fully modified Common Configuration Implementation Program F-16CMs,
equipped with night vision goggles, Harm Targeting System, and the
Advanced Targeting Pod, the 421st FS continues its proud combat heritage
as a premier multi-role fighter squadron.
The 421st EFS will take the reins from the 555th EFS, known as "Triple Nickel," from Aviano Air Base, Italy.