81st FS Reactivates, Prepares for Afghan Training Mission
BY SONIC JOHNSON
14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. — The U.S. Air Force reactivated a historic unit here Jan. 15, as Col. John Nichols, 14th Flying Training Wing commander, published the reactivation order for the 81st Fighter Squadron.
Immediately following the squadron activation, Nichols passed the squadron guidon to Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hogan, who officially assumed command and became the newest commander of the 81st FS.
The mission of the newly activated squadron is to graduate on-time, combat-ready attack pilots and maintenance professionals for the Afghan air force. The squadron will grow to 20 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft that will be used to train 30 Afghan pilots and 90 maintainers at Moody through 2018.
Following the training, all 20 aircraft will be provided to the Afghan Air Force and will provide air-to-ground and aerial reconnaissance capabilities to support Afghanistan’s counterinsurgency operations and airborne self-defense for their government and citizens.
Underscoring the significance of the new 81st FS mission, audience member included the Honorable Eric Fanning, Under Secretary of the Air Force, and Maj. Gen. Michael Keltz, Air Education and Training Command’s 19th Air Force commander.
The Jan. 15 activation date has historical significance, as the unit was first activated at Key Field, Meridian, Miss., on Jan. 15, 1942, and again on Jan. 15, 1973, at Spangdahlem, Air Base, Germany.
“The mission is about the future of air power in Afghanistan,” said Nichols during the activation ceremony. “More than 12 years of blood, sweat and tears were spent getting us to this day.”
The need for the A-29 comes as the current Afghan Air Force LAS aircraft, the Mi-35 attack helicopter, reaches the end of its service life in January 2016. The A-29 is a light air support training aircraft that will be used to train 30 Afghan pilots and 90 Afghan maintainers as part of a requirement from the International Security Assistance Force to conduct training outside of Afghanistan.
The United States frequently hosts aircraft training to international students from different countries such as Norway, Poland, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Iraq on the F-16. The U.S. also provides Afghan students flying training in other established programs at bases in Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma. Eight of the 10 Afghan students in the first training class at Moody have previously earned their wings through U.S. Air Force pilot training.
The 81st FS is a tenant unit at Moody AFB, Ga., and falls under command of the 14th Operations Group and 14th Flying Training Wing at Columbus AFB, Miss.
Staff Sgt. Eric Summers Jr., 23d Wing Public Affairs, contributed to this article