After 62 years of operations, the 728th Air Control Squadron at Eglin AFB, Fla., completed its last mission and is now preparing for inactivation, announced base officials. Members of the unit provided communications and data to a four-ship sortie of F-35s from Eglin’s 33rd Fighter Wing during the final mission on Jan. 31, according to the base’s Feb. 7 release. “Talk about going out on top,” said Lt. Col. Jon Rhone, 728th ACS commander, of supporting the F-35s. He added, “People will always remember our history, but they will also remember the last thing we did.” Last year, Air Combat Command decided to stand down the squadron after receiving direction from Air Force leadership to reduce the number of US-based control and reporting centers from three to two. The squadron was assigned to Eglin from 1992 to 2008. Unit members are now carrying out inactivation procedures. The official inactivation ceremony is slated for May 17. (Eglin report by Samuel King Jr.)
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.