Officials with the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Va., on Thursday inactivated the 71st Fighter Squadron during a ceremony, completing the phaseout of the F-15 mission at the base. The unit, known as the Ironmen, traces its heritage back to the 71st Pursuit Squadron during World War II. It had been located at Langley since 1975 and operated F-15s from there since 1976. Lt. Col. Joel Cook, 71st FS commander noted its contribution in providing “that blanket of freedom” that protected Americans over the years. The squadron’s inactivation was part of the broader restructuring of the Air Force’s legacy fighter fleet that has resulted in the retirement of some 250 fighters. The 71st FS’ drawdown began in June. In September, the last remaining F-15s departed Langley, leaving the 1st FW with two F-22 squadrons to carry on the air superiority mission. (Langley report by SrA. Jarrod R. Chavana)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.