The first unit to fly a “sustained F-15E mission” from Bagram AB, Afghanistan, are returning to their home base at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. SSgt. Craig Seals reports that the 391st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron flew more than 1,000 combat sorties during its deployment to Bagram, which normally had sustained A-10 fighter operations. (Read more in “Tiger Strike on the Taliban.”) Initially the Strike Eagle unit had no fixed facilities for its maintainers. CMSgt. Joe Livingston noted that the 391st started out with just “one clamshell tent,’ but he added, “Between the RED HORSE folks and our maintainers, we now have hardened, fully functional buildings.” (The RAF Lakenheath, Britain, F-15Es that introduced the Small Diameter Bomb to operations in Afghanistan and Iraq did not operate from Bagram.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.