Released: Apr 10, 1998
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) - After 2,780 days and 32 continuous rotations in Southwest Asia enforcing the no-fly zone over Southern Iraq, EF-111A Ravens returned home for good. The EF-111 will retire from the Air Force inventory May 2.
"Over the years, a great group of folks maintained these jets at full-combat capability. Everyone's ready to come home, but on the other hand, our coming home signifies the final operational commitment of the Ravens," said Chief Master Sgt. Greg Weigl, 429th Electronic Combat Squadron maintenance superintendent.
Three EF-111A jets and 6 aircrew members from the 429th ECS here returned April 4, and about 60 members of the squadron and 27th Fighter Wing returned April 6. The remaining three aircraft and crew were scheduled to return April 11.
The 429th ECS is the longest running single-support unit participating in Operation Southern Watch according to Lt. Col. Allen Wickman, 429th ECS commander.
EF-111As flew for the last time in Southwest Asia March 30 - an occasion with great historic meaning, said Wickman. "Both these jets were F-111A Combat Lancer models. It's appropriate for them to fly the last combat mission since they flew the first one," he said.
During this final rotation, the deployed Raven crews worked especially close with their Navy counterparts to ensure a smooth transition from the EF-111 to its replacement, the EA-6B Prowler, according to Weigl.
The official transition ceremony between the EA-6B and the EF-111 took place March 31 at the Raven's deployed location.
The EF-111A first arrived in SWA in August 1990; the 429th ECS has been there continuously since October 1993. The 430th ECS supported Cannon's first EF-111 deployment in June 1993. In October 1993, the 430th ECS was redesignated the 429th ECS and the squadron inactivation ceremony is June 19.
"As we close the final chapter of the operational book of the EF-111A Raven, it continues to be a bittersweet time for me," Wickman added. "Obviously, I'm glad the assignment process went as well as it did and the squadron members can continue to proudly serve our nation in their new jobs throughout the Air Force.
"However, I still can't help the feeling of profound loss of a very unique operational capability that's about to depart the Air Force inventory. The EF-111A Raven can be retired - but never replaced." (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)
* Air Combat Command
* EF-111 Raven
* Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.
* EA-6B Prowler