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Flying Training Wing gains new squadron

  • Published
  • By Sonic Johnson
  • 14th Flying Training Wing Chief of Public Affairs
The 81st Fighter Squadron will reactivate Jan. 15, 2015, under the 14th Operations Group, Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi, with the mission of training up to 30 international pilots and 90 maintainers on the A-29 aircraft.

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James announced Aug. 22 that Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, was the selected location for the light air support A-29 Super Tucano coalition partner training mission.

Members from the 81 FS are slowly arriving at Moody AFB to assist with the bed down of the new unit, mission and aircraft. 

"The cooperation and assistance from Team Blaze and the host wing at Moody has been instrumental in the very quick stand up of our new mission," said Lt. Col Jeff Hogan, 81st FS Commander. "We currently have three aircraft which allows us to train the initial cadre of pilot and maintenance Air Advisors."

The squadron will eventually grow to 65 personnel and 20 aircraft with training slated to begin in February 2015. This is a temporary training mission programmed to be complete by 2018.

The A-29 aircraft maintenance and initial air advisor training is a contract operation conducted by Sierra Nevada Corporation. SNC will also help U.S. Air Force personnel conduct the aircraft maintenance training program planned to begin in April 2015.

"This is a great opportunity for the 14th Flying Training Wing to continue to support international training," said Col. John Nichols, 14th Flying Training Wing Commander. "It is a good fit with our international Undergraduate Pilot Training programs and the Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals training we currently conduct with our allied air forces here at Columbus AFB."

The A-29 Super Tucano, built by Embraer and SNC, is a multi-role, fixed-wing, turboprop aircraft designed for advanced flight training, light attack, counter insurgency, close air support and aerial reconnaissance missions in low-threat environments. The A-29 has retractable landing gear, a pressurized cockpit with ejection seats, is capable of operating from semi-prepared airfields, and employs various munitions from NATO-compatible hard points. The A-29 is designed to operate in high temperature and humidity conditions in extremely rugged terrain; it is a highly maneuverable aircraft currently in service with the air forces of Angola, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Indonesia, and has been ordered by Senegal and Honduras.

The 81st Fighter Squadron -- the Panthers -- boasts a proud record of more than 70 years of distinguished flying with significant combat action. The 81st was activated January 15, 1942, at Key Field, Mississippi, flying the P-40 Warhawk. The squadron participated in the D-Day invasions, and was one of the first USAAF fighter squadrons to land on the continent. Since then, the 81st has participated in Desert Storm, Deny Flight/Allied Force in Kosovo & Serbia, Southern & Northern Watch and Enduring Freedom. Most recently the squadron participated in combat operations over Libya.  The squadron was assigned to 21 different locations in its 72-year history and included the P-47, F-51, F-86, F-100 F-4, F-16 and A-10 aircraft. On June 18, 2013, the 81st FS was inactivated at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.