USAF Patch Fighter USAFE 81 TFW Tactical Ftr Wing g A 10 Gag 87
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USAF Patch Fighter USAFE 81 TFW Tactical Ftr Wing g A 10 Gag 87

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  • Item #: 1P 02US 4USA 06WIN 2OP 0081WG 18
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USAF Patch USAFE 81 TFW Tactical Fighter Wing Gaggle 6 Squadrons 78 91 92 509 510 511 TFS A 10 Warthog RAF Woodbridge Bentwaters 1987 embroidered on twill merrowed edge 113mm four and seven sixteenth inches diameter.

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Wing History

81 Fighter Interceptor Wing reactivated with United States Air Force Europe USAFE at RAF Shepherds Grove England on 1 August 1951 with F 86 Sabre fighters to provide Air Defense of the UK. The Wing was under the operational control of 11 Group Royal Air Force Fighter Command during air defense operations and for combined air defense operational training. For all other assignments and the coordinated activities with the RAF the Wing came under the control of Third Air Force USAFE. The Wing controlled its combat flying group 81 Fighter Interceptor Group comprising 91 92 and 116 Fighter Interceptor Squadrons together with ground and base support. The Wing moved its headquarters to RAF Bentwaters in September 1951 and as part of the USAF reorganization removing the Group level of command 81 Fighter Interceptor Group was inactivated on 16 June 1952.

116 FIS from Washington Air National Guard remained at RAF Shephards Grove and in November 1952 the Squadron returned to state control and was redesignated 78 Fighter Interceptor Squadron. In October 1954 the Wing was renamed 81 Fighter Bomber Squadron and reequipped with F 84F Thunderstreaks with the mission changed from fighter interceptor to fighter bomber operations in support of USAFE and NATO carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons for tactical strike attack as well as retaining an air defense role. 78 Fighter Bomber Squadron moved to RAF Sculthorpe in May 1956 briefly returning to RAF Shepherds Grove in May 1957.

On 8 July 1958 the Wing was redesignated 81 Tactical Fighter Wing and RAF Woodbridge was used as a twin base with RAF Bentwaters with 91 and 92 Tactical Fighter Squadrons operating from RAF Bentwaters and with 78 Tactical Fighter Squadron being assigned to RAF Woodbridge in December 1958 when RAF Shepherds Grove was returned to the Ministry of Defense. 

81 TFW reequipped with F 101 A and C Voodoos in autumn 1958 configured to carry a single tactical nuclear weapon for use against battlefield targets with Low Angle Drogue Delivery LADD and Low Altitude Bombing System LABS equipment for its primary mission of delivering nuclear weapons at extremely low altitudes. Pilots were trained for one way missions into Soviet territory to increase effective range at the cost of pilot recovery. In November 1965 81 TFW received F 4 C Phantom IIs upgrading to F 4 D during late 1972 and 1973. 

In anticipation of its conversion to A 10 Thunderbolts Det 1 81 Tactical Fighter Wing was activated at a new A 10 forward operating location at Sembach AB West Germany on 1 September 1978.  Revetments and hardened aircraft shelters were built and A 10 A Single seat forward air control versions began operations at Sembach during May 1979. Further detachments were subsequently established with Det 2 at Leipheim AB Det 3 at Alhorn AB and Det 4 at Norvenich AB in West Germany together with two additional unmanned reserve Forward Operating locations which remain classified. The Wing began conversion to the A 10 in June 1979 for a mission change to provide close air support CAS battlefield air interdiction in support of NATO ground forces by attacking tanks armored vehicles and other ground targets. 81 TFW was also expanded to six A 10 squadrons with 509 Tactical Fighter Squadron joining 78 and 91 TFS at RAF Woodbridge on 1 October 1979 and 510 and 511 TFS joining 92 TFS ant RAF Bentwaters on 1 October 1979 and 1 January 1980 respectively. In the event of war in the 1980s the RAF Bentwaters A 10s were to fight from Germany and RAF Bentwaters would become the base for F 16s from Nellis AFB and from Myrtle Beach AFB South Carolina. The Wings A 10s and support resources routinely rotated to the Forward Operating Locations in West Germany from RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge for training and Tactical Evaluations. The C 130 Hercules aircraft rotating to the detachments was affectionately called The Klong.

In June 1988 10 Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at RAF Alconbury was retasked and redesignated as 10 Tactical Fighter Wing with 509 TFS transferring from 81 TFW to 10 TFW on 1 June 1988 and 511 transferring in on 1 September 1988. In return 527 Aggressor Squadron was transferred from RAF Alconbury to RAF Bentwaters and reassigned to 81 TFW on 14 July 1988 leaving their F 5Es at RAF Alconbury and reequipping with F 16 C Fighting Falcons at RAF Bentwaters to provide NATO pilots combat training experience against adversaries using Soviet and Warsaw Pact tactics.

With the collapse of the Warsaw Pact in 1989 and the subsequent reduction of defense spending, the decision was made to terminate the entire USAF aggressor program. 527 AS began disposing of its F 16 Cs in preparation for deactivation with the first two aircraft flown to Spangdahlem AB on 29 November 1989 and the rest of the fleet reassigned prior to deactivation on 30 September 1990. 527 AS was to be the only F 16 unit ever to be based in the United Kingdom.

With the end of the Cold War it was announced that 81 TFW would be deactivated and RAF Bentwaters and RAF Woodbridge closed. The USAF presence at both bases were gradually phased down with RAF Woodbridges 78 TFS inactivated on 1 May 1992 and 91 TFS inactivated on 14 August 1992 and RAF Bentwaters 510 TFS transferring to 52 FW at Spangdahlem Germany on 4 January 1993 and 92 TFS inactivated on 31 March 1993. 81 Tactical Fighter Wing itself was deactivated on 1 July 1993.

The Wing was reactivated at Keesler AFB on 1 July 1993 as 81 Training Wing replacing Keesler Training Center taking on its mission of specialized technical training in electronics avionics computers operations maintenance and personnel and information management for USAF Air Force Reserve Command Air National Guard other Department of Defense agencies and foreign nations.Keesler AFB suffered considerable damage on 29 August 2005 when hit by Hurricane Katrina with all but essential people evacuated. The Base reopened on 16 September 2005 following Operation Dragon Comeback helped get the base operational and assisted with aid to the local area.


This patch dates from 1987.








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