More than a dozen F-16 fighter jets from S.C. Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing, based in McEntire, will leave soon for Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
About 500 airmen – pilots, maintenance specialists and support staff – also will be deployed for the four-month tour. The jets will provide ground support for Allied troops in Afghanistan.
It is the wing’s largest deployment since Operation Desert Storm and the fourth major deployment of its F-16s since 2002.
In 2002, “the Swamp Foxes” were deployed to Qatar, flying more than 200 combat missions in the early days of the Afghanistan campaign.
• In 2003, the 169th deployed to Qatar in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, flying more than 400 combat missions.
• In 2010, elements of the 169th deployed again to support operations in Iraq.
This will be the first deployment for several members of the S.C. Air Guard, but most have completed multiple deployments over the past 20 years, some going back as far as the first Gulf War in the early ’90s.
The date of the deployment was not released but could come as early as next week, the Guard said in a statement.