Spangdahlem F-16 combat jets deployed to the Middle East

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Peter Ho, 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, performs post-landing procedures on an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 12, 2020.


By JENNIFER SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 17, 2020

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Hundreds of airmen and more than 10 F-16 fighter jets from Spangdahlem Air Base have deployed to the Middle East to support combat operations and train with regional allies, Air Force officials said Tuesday.

The aircraft arrived at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates on Nov. 12, the Air Force said, two weeks after a squadron of F-35A Lightning II fighters from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, returned from a five-month deployment to the same base.

The unit is expected to integrate with coalition and partner forces and conduct combat missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, said Maj. Chase McFarland, a U.S. Air Forces Central Command spokesman.

The F-16 Fighting Falcons are part of the 480th Fighter Squadron, which last deployed to the Middle East in 2016. About 300 personnel, including pilots, maintainers, operations support, logistics supply and intelligence, deployed with the squadron, McFarland said.

He declined to disclose the length of the deployment due to operational security concerns.

The squadron’s move to Al Dhafra is an example of what the Air Force calls a “dynamic force employment.” That concept, McFarland said, provides “joint force commanders the flexibility to move forces into, out of and across the theater in order to seize, retain and exploit the initiative against” adversaries at any given moment.

The 480th Fighter Squadron was tapped to relocate to Aviano Air Base in Italy as part of a Pentagon plan announced in July to pull 12,000 troops out of Germany, but no details or a timeline for the move have been made public.

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U.S. Air Force Capt. Logan Mitchell, 480th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, taxis on the flight line after arriving at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, Nov. 12, 2020. A contingent of F-16s and support personnel from the 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, are deployed to the UAE.