Additional Triple Nickel F-16Cs Deployed to Afghanistan

Maintainers prepare USAF F-16C Fighting Falcon 89-02016 ‘AV’ from the 555th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron ‘Triple Nickel’ for combat shortly after landing at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, on August 31, 2017, to boost the number of aircraft deployed there with the unit. USAF/Staff Sgt Benjamin Gonsier

SEVERAL ADDITIONAL US Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcons have been deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, to build up the fleet of aircraft already operating from there with the 555th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (EFS) ‘Triple Nickel’ from the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy.  The exact number of extra Triple Nickel aircraft was not announced, but images of their arrival on August 31 released by Air Forces Central Command show at least three F-16Cs (87-0355 ‘AV’, 89-2016 ‘AV’ and 89-2044 ‘AV’) were involved.  Within hours of arrival, they were loaded with munitions and ready to begin combat missions.

The US Air Force has had a constant fighter presence in Afghanistan for more than a decade and Triple Nickel has previously made regular deployments to the country.  The unit began the latest deployment when an unspecified number of its F-16s arrived at Bagram on April 25 to operate as part of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing’s 455th Expeditionary Operations Group.  They replaced the F-16s of the 20th Fighter Wing’s 79th EFS ‘Tigers’ which then returned home to Shaw AFB, South Carolina, after spending six months at Bagram.

Since the 555th’s arrival, the unit has been extremely busy and on August 28 the 455th AEW announced that it had already dropped 600 bombs before the additional aircraft arrived.  During one of the missions in late August, the 555th dropped its 555th bomb, appropriately marked ‘I’m Bomb 555!’ in chalk before being loaded onto the aircraft.