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[Deployed members of the 8th FS in the fall of 1997.(Anonymous)]

Deployments and Combat

Kuwait 1997-1998
November 19th, 1997-June 16th, 1998
Deployment#1: 8th FS Kuwait (November 19th, 1997-March 1998)
Deployment#2: 9th FS Kuwait (February 13, 1998-June `8 1998)
Action: Excersizes

On November 19th, 1997 ten F-117A's assigned to the 8th FS "Black Sheep" landed at Langley AFB for refueling and crew rest. On November 20,four spare aircraft flew back to Holloman AFB while six aircraft deployed to Ahmed al-Jaber Kuwait in response to Iraqi threats to shoot down U-2 reconnaissance planes on UN missions. The F-117As flew about 14 hours across the Atlantic Ocean, through the Straits of Gibraltar, over the Mediterranean Sea, then across Egypt, the Red Sea and finally into Southwest Asia. All total, they covered 8,000 miles and crossed 10 time zones.

On Nov. 21(local time) after that 14 hour flight, the aircraft and approximately 200 members of the wing's 8th Fighter Squadron "Black Sheep" join the provisional 4406th Operations Group in support of OPERATION SOUTHERN WATCH and the no fly/no drive zone in Southern IRAQ. (This specific round of deployments was known as OPERATION DESERT STRIKE. Their new home was a desert base camp in Kuwait, about 45 miles from the border of Iraq - the most forward combat unit in the theater.

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The following was published at the time:

""From the time we were notified verbally that we were deploying here, to the time we arrived and became combat-ready, it took us under 70 hours," said Lt. Col. Gary Woltering, 8th FS commander. "He (Saddam Hussein) doesn't like us here because he knows he can't stop us," said Lt. Col. Woltering. "The result of the Gulf War is evidence of that. Our job is to make Saddam (Hussein) comply with U.N. sanctions."
"The flight was a real thrill. It was the first time I've ever seen the sun go down and come back up in one mission," said Capt. Tom Rempfer. "We traveled about 500 knots ground speed which is high sub-sonic and had a great tanker crew from McGuire, AFB, N.J. It was a good mission."
"We've been on the edge preparing," said Master Sgt. Jim Dunaway, 8th FS first sergeant. In fact, they were in the middle of an Operational Readiness Exercise building mobility pallets when they got the word they were on the "Go Team." Once F-117 maintainers landed, they immediately recovered incoming jets. "We didn't even have our bags or know where we were sleeping," Dunaway said. "Some people worked in their desert camouflage uniform for three days with no showers and sporadic meals."
The following was also published at the time in the mainstream media:

"The F-117s were flying their first training sortie by that Sunday, Nov. 23. The F-117 has been capable of carrying and launching AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARM) since its early deployment days. "Going after [mobile SAMs with HARMs] is one of the things this aircraft was designed to do," a retired senior USAF officer said. For several days before the F-117s left Holloman AFB, N.M., approximately 12 of the fighter-bombers departed the base twice daily to train with F-16s on the Obscura and Red Rio ranges within the White Sands Missile Range complex. Typically, one flight left Holloman around noon, followed by a second sortie about 4 p.m. Based at Cannon AFB, N.M., the F-16Cs served as decoys,prompting radar illumination by simulated enemy SAM sites. Once the sites' radar signals were detected, F-117 pilots (using a "Ninja" call-sign) would transmit, "Have a HARM launch; missile away." The range controller then would relay the missile's score against the SAM site. Similar tactics in Iraq could have devastating results. Radar site operators would be unaware that F-117s were in the area until the stealth fighters launched a HARM."
On Dec 12, 1997 the Air Combat Command released the following news story:
"F-117 support team getting the job done"

"Their charter is maximum delivery with minimum delay. They move out when the F-117 stealth fighter does.
Known as the En route Support Team, they are a cadre of technicians, which travels ahead of the stealth fighter. They are charged with being the first line of business for deploying F-117 missions; to arrive ahead of the Nighthawk, recover the jets and get them on their way.
Not the usual run of business for a military airplane, but the Nighthawk isn't your run-of-the-mill weapon system. Because of its technology and all-around uniqueness, and with each plane configured differently to tackle any potential situation, maintainers have to be ready for anything, said Master Sgt. Mike De Chant, production superintendent with the 8th Fighter Squadron, Holloman AFB, N.M.
The core size of the EST is about 15 people ranging from crew chiefs to "Martians," or material application repair specialists, and the team can be molded to handle from two to 18 planes. Duty with the EST is rotational so each team is usually composed of a new set of people, a way of balancing the deployment workload, said De Chant.
A challenge to being on the leading edge of F-117 deployments is that it can leave little time to get ready. At least that was the case for some people from the 49th Fighter Wing at Holloman when F-117s were ordered to Southwest Asia, along with B-52 bombers from Barksdale AFB, La., and tanker aircraft in November by the Secretary of Defense.
Some had six hours, some had three hours, and some had even less time to get ready. Staff Sgt. Matt Valentine, an aircraft fuel system craftsman, got a half-hour's notice to catch his plane. The Dayton, Ohio, native has worked on the Nighthawk for the last seven years, and said he sensed the deployment coming and he was packing when he got the call. "There wasn't time for my wife and kids. I didn't get a shower. I forgot the niceties, like a radio, but I've got rain gear," he mused.
Tech. Sgt. Dave Mitchell, 8th FS expediter, said he expected to have one more night at home with his family but ended up with about six hours notice for the pending trip. Though the deployment meant quick good-byes, the EST stopped at Langley AFB, Va., for crew rest and refueling before heading to the Middle East Nov. 19. The overnight gave Mitchell some time for reality to set in. "I was able to get mentally prepared," he said.
For De Chant, he was skeptical at first about quickly deploying some 8,000 miles away, "If someone told me a few months ago that we'd have to deploy here and set up in three days, I would have said 'yeah, right!'"
The F-117s arrived in Southwest Asia and were combat ready in less than 70 hours after being alerted. The plan wasn't flawless, but maintainers for the Nighthawk are known to adjust to bumps in the road, said De Chant. "When something went wrong, someone jumped on it and fixed it. We did it.""
[Deployed members of the 9th FS in the spring of 1998. (Sra Levi Collins)]
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On February 13, 1998 about 140 troops and six more F-117A's deployed to Kuwait to make a total of 12 F-117A's in support of Operation Southern Watch. The F-117A's took off at 10:30 PM. About 70 people from various units within the 49th Fighter Wing deployed to directly support F-117 operations.

Additionally, about 35 people from the 48th Rescue Squadron, deployed, as well as 20-30 49th Materiel Maintenance Group members. According to Brig. Gen. Dennis Larsen, 49th Fighter Wing commander, deploying Holloman members are all ready to support the tasking to Southwest Asia. "We're ready -- we stay ready," Larsen said.
Larsen went on to say that it's important to recognize that before this Stealth deployment, there was a solid airpower force in the region already. "We sent six F-117As and 200 Holloman folks to the region in November to join the thousands of Air Force people, and the airpower they support, that have remained combat ready in the region since the end of Desert Storm," he said. "Not only is the Air Force ready now," Larsen said, "We've been ready."
"We're flying the heck out of the jets," said Lt. Col. Gary Woltering, an Atlanta native and F-117 pilot who commands the 8th Fighter Squadron -- known as "the Black Sheep" -- from Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. "The guys are pumped. They're looking forward to this. We can go anywhere in this theater and still schwack."
A total of 9 F-117A's flew 10.8 hours non-stop to Moron, Spain. Three additional F-117s flew the first leg of the trip as spares, and returned to Holloman once the six destined for Southwest Asia (7.1 hour flight) took off from Moron. On February 23, Iraq signed an agreement with the UN. "Does anyone think for one second that Saddam would have backed down if we weren't here?" asked Lt. Col. Gary Woltering, commander of the 8th Fighter Squadron, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. "Do you think he would allow the inspectors in if he didn't fear the sound of us flying over Baghdad?"

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During April 1998, the still deployed 9th FS set a new record for the number of sorties flown in one night. The squadron completed a 36 sorite surge between sunrise and sunset using 11 F-117As (the other being down for maintenance). The previous record was 32 missions. During this shared deployment, known as OPERATION DESERT THUNDER, the 8th and 9th flew 1,239 sorties. With more aircraft available to them during their time in Kuwaut, the 9th FS completed 700 of these missions. An 86% overall Mission Capable Rate (MCR) was acheived, caompared to the ACC general standard of 80% for all squadrons.

On June 6, 1998 6 F-117A's arrived at Moron Air Base, Spain on their way home to Holloman AFB from Kuwait.

The USAFE News Service released the folowing news story on June 10, 1998:

"OVER THE ATLANTIC OCEAN (USAFENS) -- Seven air refueling aircraft left Moron Air Base Tuesday to support the redeployment of six F-117s from Southwest Asia following President Clinton's decision to reduce U.S. forces in the Gulf region. The stealth fighters are heading home to Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.
The five KC-135 Stratotankers and two KC-10 Extenders are part of an "air bridge" that includes C-5 Galaxy transport planes carrying troops and equipment to the United States. Units supporting the F-117 refueling operation over the Atlantic include Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.; RAF Mildenhall, England; McConnell AFB, Kan., Travis AFB, Calif., and McGuire AFB, N.J.
The tankers refueled the six stealth fighters 27 times before they reached the U.S. East Coast, according to Maj. James Ogenowski, tanker plan coordinator at Moron.
"The tankers' job is to ensure the F-117s have sufficient fuel to make it to an abort base if for some reason they can't take on gas," he said. "In automobile terms, the gas gauge never goes below three-quarters (full) so they (F-117s) can make it to a suitable landing site in case of an in-flight emergency.
Ogenowski said the tankers have two things the F-117s need to make it home.
"From a tanker's perspective, we have to provide continuous escort because F-117s don't have the navigation capability that tankers do, and obviously, we've got the gas."
Mildenhall's role with the redeployment of F-117s began earlier when KC-135 air crews from the 100th Air Refueling Wing and maintainers from Fairchild on temporary duty at Mildenhall were notified they would be going to Souda Bay Naval Air Station in Crete.
"Five KC-135s flew to Souda Bay June 2 to support air refueling there," said Capt. Richard Mehl, a KC-135 co-pilot with the 351st Air Refueling Squadron. The tankers refueled F-15, B-1B and F-117s while operating from Souda Bay, Mehl said.
Three of the five tankers -- Fairchild KC-135s assigned to Mildenhall as part of the European Tanker Task Force -- left Souda Bay Tuesday to provide gas for six F-117s en route to Moron. The following day, the tankers and jets took off on the last leg of the air bridge. "We provided the gas the jets needed over the Atlantic before heading home to Mildenhall," said Staff Sgt. David Stadnicki, boom operator with the 351st ARS. Stadnicki refueled two F-117s three times during the seven-hour mission over the Atlantic.
"We escorted the F-117s halfway across the ocean and refueled them along the way so that another tanker from McConnell could take them the rest of the way," he said."

On June 16, 1998 another six aircraft departed en route the the United States.

On June XXX, 1998 more F-117A's arrived at Moron. The USAFE News Service released the folowing news story on June 16, 1998:

"Twelve F-117s are trading one desert environment for another as they head home from Southwest Asia to southwestern New Mexico. The Stealth Fighters from Holloman Air Force are en route home following President Clinton's decision to reduce U.S. forces in the Gulf.
Up to 12 of the technologically advanced jets are expected to land at Moron Air Base after spending several months in Southwest Asia. Moron, a small contingency base about 48 kilometers from Seville in southern Spain, is currently serving as a stopover for many of the troops and aircraft heading home as part of the redeployment. Seven of the 12 expected F-117s landed at the air base June 7-8.
Stealth fighters at Moron are being serviced by a small group of professionals. An En Route Support Team, a specialized maintenance team from Holloman, was airlifted here two weeks ago to prepare for the arrival of the first group of fighters. The team's job is to make sure the redeployment of F-117s back to Holloman goes as smoothly as possible, according to Senior Master Sgt. Harold Bromell, NCO in charge of the support team. "Our job is to make sure the jets' stopover on their way back to the States goes smoothly. We get them in here, perform the maintenance that's required, and send them on their way.
"The team consists of people with a variety of specialties," Bromell said. "Members of our team train not only on their primary specialty, but also cross-train and learn other specialties so they can perform a multiple of duties in order to reduce the number of bodies we need to support our mission here."
Aircraft returning home from the desert are being refueled by air crews flying KC-135 Stratotankers and KC-10 Extenders from several bases, including Fairchild AFB, Wash.; McConnell AFB, Kan.; McGuire AFB, N.J.; and RAF Mildenhall, England.
The Holloman fighters were able to train in a real world environment and even managed to achieve a major milestone while deployed to the desert, according to Maj. Andy Lasher, F-117 pilot and operations officer at Holloman.
"We flew hundreds of missions over Southwest Asia. We trained aggressively for combat operations where we fly several airplanes all the time," he said. "As a matter of fact, while we were deployed there, we flew more sorties in one day than any stealth fighter unit ever.
"We broke a record that was around for a long time and we put it to shame. We flew over 36 combat sorties in a little less than 10 hours," he added.
According to Lasher, the presence of the F-117s in Southwest Asia proved to be an effective deterrent against Iraq.
"The United States has a 'big stick' and it's the F-117. When the United States needs conventional deterrence around the world, we make it happen," he said. "This airplane shows up and potential adversaries think twice because they know what's on the receiving end of this airplane and all the people that maintain it.""

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