(Photo visual: John E. Lasky, Aviano AFB, 23 february 2005)
Not all F-16 squadrons fly with the ANG. Some squadrons are based abroad, like the 510 and 555FS in Italy. In this article we look into the history and present state of the "Buzzards" squadron (510FS) located at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
Constituted 625th Bombardment Squadron (Dive) on 4 February 1943 based at Drew Field, Florida. Activated on 1 March 1943 and redesignated 510th Fighter Bomber Squadron on 10 August 1943. On 30 May 1944 the unit became the 510 Fighter Squadron. Inactivated on 27 October 1945. Redesignated 510th Fighter Bomber Squadron on 15 October 1952.
|Unit:||510th Fighter Squadron|
|Wing:||31th Fighter Wing|
|Location:||Aviano AB, Italy|
Activated on 1 December 1952 and inactivated on 1 July 1958. Redesignated 510th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 11 March 1959. Activated on 9 April 1959.
Redesignated as the 510th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 11 March 1959, the squadron was reactivated on 9 April 1959 at Clack AB, Luzon. Assigned to the 405th Fighter Wing (though attached to Joint Task Force 116, from 16 May-8 June 1962), the squadron flew the F-100. During that period, the squadron had been, until 14 March 1964, stationed at Clark AB, Luzon, (but deployed at Chai-Yi AB, Taiwan (1-8 July and 2-12 November 1959); at Takhli RTAFB, Thailand (11 May-8 June 1962)); and at England AFB, LA, until 7 November 1965 (but deployed at Clark AB, Philippines, from 8 May-20 August 1965). The squadron saw combat in Southeast Asia from 12 November 1965 to 15 October 1969. The squadron inactivated on 15 November 1969 at Bien Hoa AB, South Vietnam, to which it had relocated on 10 November 1965. The 510th flew over 27,200 combat missions in Southeast Asia. In 1969, it again deactivated.
The 510th reactivated on 1 October 1978 at RAF Bentwaters, England, and was assigned to the 3d Tactical Fighter Wing (though attached to the 405th Fighter Wing, c. 8 May-17 August 1965). It was reassigned to the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing, on 1 October 1978. The squadron began operating the A-10 aircraft in 1979.
The squadron began providing close air support for NATO exercises, starting August 1979 and this until December 1992. The 510th deployed aircraft and personnel to Turkey to support Kurdish relief in Northern Iraq, from 6 September-10 December 1991; from 8 April-10 June 1992; and from 6 August-30 October 1992.
Reassigned to the 52 Operations Group on 1 October 1992, the 510th relocated to Spangdahlem AB, Germany. The 510th Fighter Squadron completed transferring aircraft from RAF Bentwaters, England, to Spangdahlem, Germany on 4 January 1993. This completed the transition of the 510th Fighter Squadron from Bentwaters, which closed in 1993. With the final two aircraft, the 510th FS had its full compliment of 18 A-10 and six OA-10 aircraft. Spangdahlem's 52nd Fighter Wing received its first operational A-10s from Bentwaters in October 1992 and was receiving aircraft from England about every two weeks during the transition.
During 1993-1994, the 510th flew more than 1,700 combat sorties, from Aviano AB, Italy, in support of Operation Deny Flight. In the skies over Bosnia-Herzegovina, the squadron became the infamous : “Bosnia Buzzards”. The 510th inactivated on 1 February 1994.
Redesignated as the 510th Fighter Squadron "Bosnia Buzzards" on 23 March 1994, it activated on 1 July 1994 at Aviano AB, Italy, and was assigned to the 31st Fighter Wing's Operations Group flying the General Dynamics/Lockheed F-16CG.
The Bosnia Buzzards, during Operation Deliberate Force, were the first F-16 Block 40 squadron to drop a Laser Guided Bomb. The 510th led the Tactical Air Forces with the 1st combat use of Night Vision Goggles in an F-16 during Operation Deliberate Guard. The Bosnia Buzzards led the way by being one of the first F-16 units to become Forward Air Controllers (FAC-A) and were the first to employ as FAC-A's in combat in the F-16.
In Operation Allied Force, the Air War over Serbia, the Buzzards distinguished themselves by flying more combat missions than any other F-16 squadron. Subsequently the "Balkan Buzzards" have expanded into an Expeditionary Air Force, the worldwide "Fightin' Buzzards" and were the first Aviano fighter squadron to deploy to Operation Southern Watch in June 2000 and to Operation Northern Watch in June and December of 2001. During those deployments the "Fightin' Buzzards" engaged in combat operations over Iraq in both surface attack and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR). In September to December 2002, the Buzzards returned to Operation Southern Watch and dropped 136,508 pounds of ordinance over Iraq to include the first GBU-31A JDAM in F-16CG combat history.
Former aircraft with 510th
A-24 and P-39 (1943), P-47 (1943-1945), F-84 (1953-1956), F-100 (1956-1958), F-100 (1959-1979), (O)A-10A (1979-1994), F-16CG&DG (1994-present)