Davis-Monthan & 355th Fighter Wing Fact Sheet

Mission

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, a part of the United States Air Force's Air Combat Command, is located in Tucson, Arizona. The base is home to the 355th Fighter Wing, responsible for training and deploying A-10 pilots, in addition to over 30 tenant units, including 12th Air Force, the 309th Aircraft Maintenance and Regeneration Group, the 55th Electronic Combat Group, the 563rd Rescue Group, the 943rd Rescue Group, and a number of smaller organizations. D-M's aircraft inventory includes 83 A-10Cs, 14 EC-130s, 5 HC-130Js, a dozen HH-60Gs, a contingent of F-16s, and 4,200 assorted aircraft in the Boneyard. There are approximately 6,500 Active Duty military personnel employed on base, in addition to 1,000 Reserve and Air National Guard personnel, and roughly 3,000 civilians.

The 355th's mission is threefold. First, deploy, employ, support, and sustain attack airpower and Airmen in support of Combatant Commanders anywhere in the world.  Second, train the finest attack pilots for the Combat Air Forces.  Third, provide every member of Team D-M with responsive, tailored, mission-focused base support.

355th History

On 12 November 1942 the 355th Fighter Group, the wing's forbear was activated at Orlando Army Air Base, Florida, flying P-40 Warhawks. However, instead of going to war in the P-40s they had been training with, they were scheduled to operate the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt. Pilots and crews carried out training with the new aircraft during the group's move up the East Coast, which commenced on 17 February and ended on 16 June 1943, when the group departed for England.

On D-Day, 6 June 1944, 355th Fighter Group pilots, in conjunction with those from the 4th Fighter Group, conducted missions around Paris, a key staging and routing area for German forces in France. These were the only two 8th AF fighter groups not tasked to fly over the beachheads. The 8th AF commander selected these units specifically for their experience in both air-to-air and air-to-ground operations. On 18 September 1944, the 355th Fighter Group participated in the last shuttle escort mission of the war, when they escorted bombers on a three-day deep strike mission from England to Russia, Russia to Italy, and Italy to England. These missions allowed for uninterrupted escort when striking targets beyond fighter escort range. Despite the overwhelming challenges the 355th faced, their efforts ensured the success of many bombing missions throughout the campaign.

The 355th flew its last mission in World War II on 25 April 1945. During this time, 56 pilots obtained ace status for destroying five or more aircraft; 22 of these were air aces, the remainder had a sufficient number of ground kills to achieve ace status. The 355th's two highest scoring individuals in air-to-air and air-to-ground were Henry W. Brown with 32 (17.5 aerial, 14.5 ground) and William J. Cullerton with 27 (6 aerial and 21 ground) kills. These two pilots were shot down on air-to-ground missions and taken prisoner. In all, 355th Fighter Group pilots were credited with 365.5 aerial kills and 502.5 ground kills, for a total of 868 aircraft destroyed, the third highest overall, and the top in air-to-ground kills, within 8th AF. However, this came at a high price: 175 aircraft lost in action, even more lost during training missions, and the accompanying tragic loss of life. Some members of the group went on to fight other wars, such as James Jabara, who became the first jet ace in Korea, and second highest scorer in that conflict. The efforts and feats accomplished by these men are indelibly etched in our Air Force heritage.

Following the 355th Fighter Group inactivation in 1946, 9 years passed before the unit reactivated. On 18 August 1955 the unit reactivated as the 355th Fighter Group (Air Defense) at McGhee-Tyson Airport, Tennessee, under Aerospace Defense Command, due to increased tensions between the Soviet Union and the US during the Cold War. The new mission included defending strategic targets from attack by Russian intercontinental bombers. The 355th's role in this mission consisted of flying the F-86L Sabre (aka Sabre Dog), a radar equipped version of the aircraft made famous in the Korean War, to defend the Oak Ridge Atomic Energy Plant and ALCOA aluminum production site. While they never fired a shot in anger, pilots of the group stood constant alert and made numerous practice launches against "enemy" bombers and fighters during their 3-year vigil. On 8 January 1958, the unit inactivated.

On 13 April 1962 the group reactivated at George AFB, California, and became the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing (355 TFW). Crews commenced operations with the Republic F-105 Thunderchief, and after reaching proficiency in the aircraft, their mission expanded to include training new crews. Two years later, the 355th moved to McConnell AFB, Kansas, and supported the conflict in Vietnam by temporarily deploying squadrons on combat rotations. With an increase in the bombing campaign against North Vietnam, Air Force leaders made the decision to relocate the wing to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, on 8 November 1965. Following five years of uninterrupted combat over Vietnam, the wing deactivated in December 1970.

On 1 July 1971 the Air Force reactivated the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFW) at Davis-Monthan with the Vought A-7D Corsair II as the primary weapon system. In early 1975 the 355 TFW prepared for conversion to the nameless Fairchild Republic A-10 (it would be nearly three years before the name Thunderbolt II was officially selected for the A-10). In October 1975 the 355th Tactical Training Squadron activated to conduct A-10 academic training. Five months later, on 2 March 1976 the wing received the first A-10. D-M was officially transferred from the Strategic Air Command to Tactical Air Command on 30 September 1976. It was also on this day that the 355 TFW became D-M's host wing. Before the close of the decade, two additional changes would occur. On 1 September 1979 the 355 TFW was redesignated the 355th Tactical Training Wing, and on October 2, the last A-7D mission was flown, thereby ending an eight years presence at D-M.

In the 1990s, the 355 TTW continued to train A-10 crews for assignments to units in the United States, United Kingdom and Korea. During this period, the A-10 saw combat for the first time during the Gulf War in 1991, destroying more than 1,000 Iraqi tanks, 2,000 military vehicles, and 1,200 artillery pieces. Additionally, A-10s shot down two Iraqi helicopters with the GAU-8 Avenger Gatling gun. During the war, seven A-10s were shot down, far fewer than military planners expected. During this time, A-10s had a mission capable rate of 95.7%, flew 8,100 sorties, and launched 90% of the AGM-65 Maverick missiles fired in the conflict.

The Wing's next contingency, Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, began on August 27, 1992, in an effort to enforce restrictions placed on Iraq following Operation DESERT STORM. The 355th supported this operation with five deployments to Southwest Asia in 1995, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2001. All deployments were to enforce the 33rd parallel southern no-fly zone. In 1999, in addition to the regular Operation SOUTHERN WATCH A-10 rotations, the wing provided Compass Call assets to Operation ALLIED FORCE, the NATO air campaign over Serbia and Kosovo. The next change for the installation occurred on 1 May 1992, when the Air Force policy of "one base-one boss" was implemented. This resulted in all Air Divisions, including the 836 AD, beginning inactivated. With this action, the 355 FW was once again D-M's host wing. Also on this day, the 41st and 43rd Electronic Control Squadrons and the EC-130E Compass Call aircraft were assigned to the 355th FW. These actions resulted in the 355th FW becoming the 355th Wing (WG).

The attacks on September 11, 2001, led to the initiation of three missions--Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) in Afghanistan, which Davis-Monthan continues to support, Operation IRAQI FREEDOM (renamed Operation NEW DAWN), and Operation NOBLE EAGLE. After OEF began, eight A-10s from the WG's 354th Fighter Squadron (FS) deployed to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan and provided close air support missions for multinational ground forces. Other deployments to Bagram Airfield followed in 2003, 2005, and 2007. In 2009 the 354 Bulldogs returned to Afghanistan in a historic deployment to Kandahar Airfield. This was the first time an A-10C squadron operated from this location. It was also during this deployment the 354th FS reached another combat milestone by utilizing the Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod in warfare, a first for an A-10C squadron. The 354th's next six month deployment was to Osan AB, Republic of Korea, in 2011. For its flawless role in support of Pacific Command's Theater Security Package, the unit was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. The Bulldogs returned to Bagram Airfield in 2012 in support of OEF. During this six-month deployment the squadron completed over 3,500 combat sorties and logged over 13,600 combat hours. 
 
In the midst of all the deployments, changes still occurred within the 355th. In September 2002, control of the 48th, 55th, and the 79th Rescue Squadrons (RQS) was transferred to the 355 WG. At the same time, the 41st and 43rd Electronic Combat Squadrons were realigned under the 55th Electronic Combat Group (55 ECG). While personnel and aircraft remained on Davis-Monthan AFB, operational control of the 55 ECG was assumed by the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska. Additionally, one other major wing realignment occurred on 1 October 2003 with the activation of the 563rd Rescue Group (563 RQG) on Davis-Monthan AFB. Control of the 48th, 55th, and 79th Rescue Squadrons (RQS) was passed to the new unit with the 23rd Wing at Moody AFB, Georgia. Finally, with only fighter aircraft assigned, the 355 WG was redesignated as the 355th Fighter Wing on 26 April 2007. 

Other units currently assigned to Davis-Monthan AFB are 12th AF Headquarters, 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, 55th Electronic Combat Group, 563rd Rescue Group, and the 162nd Arizona Air National Guard Alert Detachment.  Other federal agencies using the base include the Federal Aviation Administration and the U.S. Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) Air Service Branch. Approximately 6,500 Active Duty military personnel, 1,000 Reserve and Air National Guard personnel, and 3,000 civilian employees work at Davis-Monthan, and nearly 19,000 military retirees reside in the Tucson area. In 2012 Davis-Monthan AFB received the Commander-in-Chiefs' Installation Excellence Award and was recognized as the best installation in the U. S. Air Force.