The Air Force on Sunday intends to inactivate the 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at JB Balad, Iraq. The “Dueling Dragons” have operated out of Balad since February 2006 as “the most forward-deployed” C-130 unit supporting operations in Iraq. The busy expeditionary squadron, which has flown C-130E, -H1, and –H3 aircraft, has moved more than 500,000 passengers and 79,000 tons of cargo in 43,000 airlift sorties since its inception, according to Balad officials. Unit members came together last week on Balad’s flightline to celebrate their accomplishments. “The Dueling Dragons’ can-do attitude allowed us to seamlessly support warfighters, airlift personnel, equipment, and supplies throughout [US] Central Command’s area of responsibility,” said Lt. Col. Dennis King, 777th EAS commander, during the ceremony. The 386th Air Expeditionary Wing, located at an undisclosed air base in Southwest Asia, will absorb the squadron’s mission. (Balad report by SrA. Tong Duong)
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.