The 22d Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) was constituted on 22 December 1939, at Langley Field, Virginia. Flying the P-36 Hawk, the unit relocated to Puerto Rico prior to World War II, and after the US entered the war it deployed to the Pacific flying anti-submarine patrols. In 1943, the squadron moved to Liverpool, England, flying the P-40 Warhawk in Europe. It supported General George Patton's 3rd Army, flying combat missions in support of D-Day, the Battle of the Bulge, and relief of the Siege of Bastogne. For its distinguished World War II records, the squadron received numerous citations and campaign ribbons.
Inactivated after the war, the 22d was activated again in 1946 in the Panama Canal Zone flying the F-80 Shooting Star. It was relocated to Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base, Germany, in 1948, flying the F-84 Thunderjet. The 22d helped form the Skyblazers, the first jet-equipped Air Force aerial demonstration team and a forerunner of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
In 1952, the unit moved to Bitburg Air Base, Germany, first flying the F-86 Sabre, then the F-100 Super Sabre, F-105 Thunderchief, and F-4 Phantom II. Then in 1977, the 22d "Stingers" converted to the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle, providing air defense for NATO's Central Region.
In 1987, 1988, and 1990, the 22 FS was awarded the Commander in Chief of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe trophy recognizing the unit as the most outstanding tactical fighter squadron in Europe. Additionally, the 22d was named the Hughes Achievement Award Winner for 1988 as the best air superiority squadron in the U.S. Air Force.
During Operation Desert Storm, members of 22d flew and fought from both Al-Kharj Air Base, Saudi Arabia, and Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. The 22d amassed more than 7,000 combat hours during the conflict and was the only squadron in the coalition to achieve kills on both fronts.
As part of the drawdown at Bitburg Air Base, the unit's F-15s were sent to RAF Lakenheath, England, in the spring of 1994. The squadron was transferred to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, on 1 April, 1994, to become the new standard of the former 480th Fighter Squadron. The squadron currently flies the Block 50 F-16CJ, the Air Force's latest version of the Fighting Falcon. In 1998, the 22d transitioned from a primary general-purpose air interdiction squadron to its new primary mission as a "Wild Weasel" unit performing suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD). The squadron's most current version of the F-16, outfitted with the high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARM), GPS guided-inertial aided munitions, and the HARM targeting system (HTS) pod, is a lethal platform against enemy air defense systems.
The 22d was quickly put into combat with its new capability when it deployed to Operation Northern Watch in January 1999, and engaged Iraqi radars with 12 HARMs while protecting coalition assets during heightened tensions with Iraq. After three months flying Operations Northern Watch missions, the squadron was retasked and returned to Spangdahlem Air Base where they flew combat missions into northern Yugoslavia protecting F-117s and B-2s striking key military targets in and around Belgrade, Yugoslavia, in support of Operation Allied Force. The pilots of the 22d flew combat missions over Yugoslavia and fired 202 HARMs at Serbian radars. In addition, the squadron performed its secondary and tertiary missions, employing 16 MK-84s on key military targets while providing air superiority.
In response to U.S. presidential directives, following the 11 September attacks 22d provided fighter escort to C-17 aircraft over Afghanistan during humanitarian relief missions, within 100 hours of notification, as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. This effort served as the template for USAFE's Euro Lightning operations concept.
In January 2003, the squadron forward deployed as the 22d Expeditionary Fighter Squadron to Southwest Asia in support of U.S. Central Command and flew combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The squadron played a key role during the 27-day air war by fulfilling it's "Wild Weasel" mission of suppressing enemy air defenses and destroying Iraqi radar sites.
Remarks to the community at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany: May 5, 1999.(Pres Bill Clinton's speech)(Transcript)
May 17, 1999; Thank you very much. Secretary Cohen, thank you for your remarks and your remarkable leadership. We're glad that you and Janet...