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[Crews at Aviano.()]

UN Operation Allied Force
(USAF Operation Nobel Anvil)

On Sunday February 21, 12 F-117As touched down at Aviano Air Base, Italy to support possible NATO air operations over the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The deployment was announced on February 17, and aircrews, maintainers and support people from Holloman AFB (about 250 people) began arriving aboard C-17 transport planes on Feb 20. The 12 F-117As arrived in three seperate four-ship formations. The callsigns used were "Zesty 11-14, 21-24, 31-34".

The following was published in February 1999 by USAF news.

"The F-117s and the men and women who support them are truly national assets," said Col. Andrew Dichter, 49th Fighter Wing vice commander, during a press conference Feb. 19. "We have the capability to put bombs on target and enhance U.S. fire power as needed. This is the mission we train for each and every day.
"And we are indeed ready."
Colonel Dichter also took a moment to assess the motivation level of the deploying Fightin' 49ers.
"Though our folks have been on a kind of start-and-stop cycle these last few months, the men and women of the 49th have very high spirits with this opportunity to put into practice what they train very hard for every day."
The stealth fighter pilots flew almost 14 hours non-stop from Holloman to Italy with the help of U.S. Air Force refueling aircraft. Each Nighthawk was refueled 18 times by three different groups of tankers during the journey -- KC-135 Stratotankers from Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; KC-10 Extenders from McGuire AFB, N.J.; and forward-deployed KC-135s from Fairchild AFB, Wash.
Col. Kevin Smith, 49th Operations Group commander and leader of the second Nighthawk four-ship formation to arrive, called the stealth fighter "a national asset".
"It's a one-of-a-kind airplane that other countries don't have. The radar-evading properties make it extremely difficult to defend against."
The F-117s join a number of other deployed aircraft at Aviano, including F-16s from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; F-15Es from RAF Lakenheath, England; and EA-6Bs from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. The F-117A's are deployed as part of the 31st Air Expeditionary Wing headquartered at Aviano. All 49th members here are designated under the 8th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron within the AEW.
"The AEW is like the All-Star Game in the NBA," said Brig. Gen. Dan Leaf, dual-hatted as Aviano's 31st Fighter Wing and the AEW commander. "You bring all your big guns under one team - with the right assets and the right talent, you're ready for any game in town. But our's is more serious than a game - we have to win.
"The people of the 8th EFS and the unique capabilities of the F-117 bring a powerful punch to our AEW force," said General Leaf. "Our folks here and especially our Italian hosts in the local communities have been very impressed with the black jet. Many people here know it's proven and tested in combat and brings special capabilities that gives our Air Force added credibility," he said.
"Though the AEW is not new to us, it gives our pilots, maintainers and support members a unique opportunity to work with a variety of aircraft and people from both U.S. and allied forces," said Lt. Col. Gary Woltering, 8th Fighter Squadron commander.
Elements of the 49FW fell under the AEW structure during Southwest Asia deployments in 1996, 1997 and 1998.
"I was very impressed with our folks in setting up operations here. They dug in and got us ready to do our mission almost immediately," said Colonel Woltering. "All this while many of our folks were adjusting to the time change and setting up living quarters in tent city." "
On March 19, 1999 the following news story was issued by the USAF:

"AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy-Holloman's F-117s are ready to go if called upon to support NATO operations in Kosovo.
While negotiations have been underway between the warring factions in the former Yugoslavia, Black Sheep maintainers have been able to hone the weapon systems and the people who maintain them.
"We've been training airmen on applying hydraulics to the aircraft," said Staff Sgt. Phillip Johnston, a weapons load crew chief. "We're taking this time to get the airmen some training on whatever they need."
Airman First Class Joseph Desiderio, an avionics specialist, echoed the sentiment that the lull has given maintainers extra time. "Since we're not flying that much, we're not real busy. But that could change anytime," said the airman. "The airplanes are holding up fine. It hasn't been hard to keep them ready."
"Until we get the word to go, we're kind of standing by," said Sergeant Johnston. "All of the weapons are ready. We're maintaining the weapon inspections, keeping everything current. It's kind of boring, but we're dealing with it. If we get the word to go, we'll be really busy."
As a material application repair specialist, Senior Airman Scott Byrnes helps maintain the radar absorbent material, or RAM, that helps make the F-117 stealthy. "Our job is like weapons in that the work comes in spurts. We finished up a phase inspection," he said, "and did a job on a heat shield. We are doing normal maintenance, to include comprehensive phase inspections while deployed. We are comfortable that our jets are 100 percent mission ready"
"Crew chiefs are always busy," said Senior Airman Mike Dealy, a Black Sheep crew chief.
"We're maintaining inspections, making sure all the aircraft are current. We have lots of little things to take care of. If nothing else, we need to bring the aircraft out of the shelters so they can fly, and put them back in when they come home." "

The F-17As flew familiarization flights using the call sign "Nighthawk". On March 24 NATO began OPERATION ALLIED FORCE as an effort to compel President Slobodan Milosevic to make peace in Kosovo. The first strikes occurred after 1 p.m. EST March 24, heralded by explosions reported near Belgrade. An Italian spotter reported: "The F-117As flew only in night-time and often all twelve were launched. (One ship or two ship launches) Various callsigns were used in rotation with other units both at Aviano and other bases in Italy. Used often were "Vega" and "Merk". In late March "Uzi" was heard on spotter's scanners. In late April, new callsigns were heard: "Flash" and "Hand".

On the forth day of operations (March 27) F-117A # 82-806 crashed in Yugoslavia. The pilot ejected and was rescued by Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) Teams inside enemy territory. (See Losses Page for more info.)

On April 1, 1999 the Pentagon announced plans to send 13 additional F-117A stealth fighters to Europe on April 4. (A second deployment of 12 plus one to replace the F-117A lost on March 27) This announcement stunned many of the "talking heads" on TV that for four days (since the loss of #806) had been commenting that the F-117A was now obsolete. On Saturday, April 3, about 250 aircrew, maintainers and support people from Holloman began arriving at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany aboard C-5 Galaxy and C-141 Starlifter transport aircraft. On Sunday April 4, the 13 F-117As landed at Spangdahlem after a 12-hour flight from Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.. One F-117A continued on to Aviano, leaving the 2nd deployment to conduct operations from Spangdahlem Air Base. This detachment was the 9th EFS, assigned to the 49th Expeditionary Operations Group. The 9th EFS launched its first combat sortie only 33 hours after departing Holloman.

The following was published in the April 9, 1999 Sunburst:

By Airman 1st Class Chris Uhles
49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Secretary of Defense William Cohen ordered more F-117s to aid in the NATO air strikes over the former republic of Yugoslavia.
Eighteen F-117s took off Saturday bound for the European theater. Twelve Nighthawks landed at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, Sunday, and one went to replace the downed jet at Aviano Air Base, Italy. The remaining five jets were used as "air spares," ensuring the fulfillment of the tasking.
Along with the deploying stealths, around 250 members of Team Holloman also deployed on five C-5 Galaxys that took off from Holloman throughout the weekend.
According to Brig. Gen. Bill Lake, 49th Fighter Wing commander, the move to send more stealths to the region was to bolster NATO's force in their effort to end the former republic of Yugoslavia President Slobodan Milosevic's fight to rid Kosovo of ethnic Albanians.
"This will help to diminish the barbarian's ability to continue this reign of terror against innocent human beings," General Lake said at a press conference Saturday.
The commander went on to ensure the nation that the resolve of Team Holloman members was not wained by the downing of the F-117, March 27.
The deployed F-117s help to add to other NATO aircraft in forward-deployed U.S. and NATO locations throughout Europe, including Aviano and Cervia Air Bases in Italy; Royal Air Force Fairford, England; Spangdahlem and Ramstein Air Bases, Germany.
These aircraft continue to strike Yugoslav military targets and war-making infrastructure.
When asked about what the general would say to the Serbian military concerning the additional deployment of stealths, he replied: "I just have one word for them --'duck'"
In another USAF New1s article:

""The F-117 is designed to hit high-valued targets with precision-guided munitions," said the deployed commander of the 49th Expeditionary Operations Group. "This provides a crucial option to the theater commanders."
"With 20 percent of Spangdahlem aircraft and people currently deployed, and with the recent inactivation of the 53rd Fighter Squadron, Spangdahlem serves as an ideal base for the beddown of the F-117" said Col. Alan Thompson, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander.
"The complexity of doing all of that at the same time was the challenge, and our people performed brilliantly with great cooperation from the 49th Expeditionary Operations Group," he added.
The beddown of the Nighthawk unit was a big undertaking and involved most of the units at Spangdahlem-both support and operations.
"We worked extensively with our colleagues from Holloman upon notification," Thompson said. "This was done at every level."

Looking at the pictures of the arriving F-117As, one could notice that there were no pilot names on the canopies or groundcrew names on the main gear doors. Also, the numbers on the ship number on the front main gear had been whitened out. This was still the case when the F-117As returned to Holloman. This was probably in response to pictures of the downed F-117A #806 carrying the name of Capt. Ken "Wiz" Dwelle, a 7th FS instructor pilot, on the canopy. Contrary to speculation about Dwelle being the pilot, Capt. Dwelle never left New Mexico - only his F-117A did.

With both combat-coded F-117A squadrons deployed (8th FS "Black Sheep" and 9th FS "Flying Knights"), half of the F-117A fleet, maintainers, and pilots were left at Holloman AFB to continue day to day operations.

The following is from the August 6, 1999 Sunburst:

"During Operation Allied Force, Holloman was one of the first bases in the Air Force to combine combat-coded squadrons with a training squadron. With most of the people from the only two combat-coded stealth fighter squadrons in the Air Force deployed to Europe, that presented a problem: How would pilots at Holloman train for combat without the necessary personnel and equipment of the 8th and 9th?
"We had to get creative," said Lt. Col. Glenn Baugher.
According to the former operations officer for the 7th Combat Training Squadron, the first duty day after the 9th deployed was used as a planning and brainstorming day for senior leadership and supervisors.
Their task: Decide how to keep the remaining pilots current and train the new F-117 pilots as well.
According to the lieutenant colonel the initial decision was to at least run the combined squadron's operations desk from the 7th. Then they realized the majority of the officers left behind were from the 7th as well, so the remaining pilots from the other squadron were brought down to work out of the 7th.
With all the deployments, the "789th," as it was nicknamed, had a fair amount of pilots and instructor pilots, but was short on crew chiefs and martians.
"We flew as much as the limited amount of personnel allowed us to," Colonel Baugher said, "so we kept operations at a high tempo - especially the IPs (Instructor Pilots). They had to do initial qualification training with new pilots in the afternoon, and then go back that evening and follow rated pilots for mission qualification training flying at night. It was pretty hard on the IPs."
According to Colonel Baugher, combining the squadrons wasn't a new idea, but one with an interesting twist.
"It's not uncommon to combine two combat-coded squadrons during a deployment. But to combine a training squadron with a combat squadron is very unique. In fact it's probably the first time it's ever been done to this extent.""
On April 12, a European spotter posted the following on the internet:

"We went to Spang yesterday, arrived around 19:00hrs, the street in the town was closed (anlieger frei), you can park your car in the neighborhood of the houses and walk to the landing-area, the path to the "hill" was also closed, but accessible (sand and mud...). Near the fence police has made a no-crossing line for about 20 meters from the fence. Photographing is absolutely out of the question, but scopes are permitted. At about 20:00hrs 6 F-16C's fully armed plus 10 F-117's went to Serbia/Kosovo. Couldn't get any numbers because of the low sun and it was getting too dark. Photographing should be possible at the other side of the runway at the public road, the Nighthawks are flying very low at that specific place. Beware of police (German AND military) of course. There were numerous of them around the base. We didn't have any problems with them."

On April 25, it was reported by an Italian spotter that F-117As were actually swapping between Aviano and Spangdahlem. The callsigns used for this was "Bemud". Apparently Aviano F-117As were taking off from Italy, flying their mission, and landing in Germany. It is assumed that the F-117As based in Germany were doing the same thing.

This was confirmed on May 22 by an internet posting of another European spotter:

""On May 14, 1999 at 21.05hrs(9 PM+) we spotted 7 F-117's during takeoff at Spangdahlem with intervals of 10min between each a/c. With the darkness coming in close we managed to read the following 6 serials: 80-0786(Spang), 81-10794(Spang), 82-0805(Aviano), 83-0807(Aviano), 84-0809(Spang), 85-0833(Aviano). According to previous listings three a/c were spotted at Aviano earlier during the campaign.
Polizei is almost always on site at the hill near the fence. We were not allowed to take pictures or use the video cam. Making notes didn't bother them. Also be careful with parking your vehicle because of the no-parking zone's otherwise you're funding the Germans. "

On May 4, 1999 friends and leaders packed the Caserma Barbarisi Chapel at Aviano AB to pay their last respects to two airmen who were deployed supporting NATO's Operation Allied Force.

Airman 1st Class John M. Johnson, deployed from the 49th Fighter Wing, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M., and Airman 1st Class Jovan D. Griffin, from the 43rd Airlift Wing, Pope AFB, N.C., were killed May 2 when the automobile they were in crashed on an Italian highway. Three others from Aviano Air Base, Italy, were injured in the single-car accident.

In late May the F-117As and personnel at Aviano AB were moved to Spangdahlem. Approximately 160 members of the Fightin' Forty-niners returned to Holloman following that consolidation. This was first reported on June 4, 1999 by an Italian spotter that the Aviano based F-117As (8th EFS) had departed for Germany earlier in the week using the callsign "Shabah". From that point, on all F-117A operations were flown from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Many cargo aircraft were seen also this week at Aviano-assumed to be used to re-deploy the Aviano based F-117A personal to Spangdahlem. After the F-117As left Aviano, their HAS (Hardened Air Shelters) became occupied by Shaw AFB F-16s. This move reunited the 8th EFS with the 9th EFS, both under the 49th EOG-the same organization that exists at Holloman AFB.

On June 10, 1999 NATO suspended air attacks against Yugoslavia after 78 days of bombing. Between the 8th and the 9th, the F-117As flew more than 850 sorties without one combat fatality. As a whole, NATO aircraft flew more than 34,000 sorties in the 11 week operation.

On June 21, 1999 Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen authorized the start of the redeployment of the first increment of 124 U.S. aircraft deployed for the NATO operation. This included the first batch of 12 F-117A's Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. On June 22, 1999 Secretary Cohen authorized the start of the redeployment of the second increment of 315 U.S. aircraft deployed for the NATO operation. This included the second batch of 12 F-117A's Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

Between Thursday June 24th through Saturday June 26th transports carrying members of the 49th Fighter Wing arrived at Holloman AFB. On Friday June 25th, the first 11 F-117As landed at Langley Air Force Base, Va. For the night. On Saterday, June 26 the first 11 ship formation (what a sight I'm sure ) of F-117As arrived back home at Holloman AFB New Mexico. On Tuesday, June 29 the second 11 ship formation arrived at Holloman after a stop at Robbins AFB, Goergia. On Wednesday, June 30 1999 the last 2 F-117As arrived home. The aircraft arrived home with mission markings-as they did when the F-117As returned from Desert Storm.

The following is from the July 2, 1999 issue of the "Sunburst":


By Airman 1st Class Chris Uhles
49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

All this week, members of the 49th Fighter Wing - and the F-117s they sustain - have been returning from supporting NATO missions in Kosovo.
The redeployment began June 25 when the first of many C-5s arrived at Holloman, returning approximately 35 maintenance personnel to awaiting family and friends.
"I missed him a lot," said Patrick Mayfield (9), son of returning Tech. Sgt. Billy Mayfield, 49th Maintenance Squadron. "He's a good dad."
According to base officials, the remainder of personnel deployed to Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany could be home as early as the weekend, and the remaining people from Aviano by mid-July.
As with any deployment, separation is hard to deal with. However, according to many members' this one was different.
"I stopped watching the news, it just got depressing," said Shannon Smith, married to Senior Airman Perrin Smith, 8th Fighter Squadron. "I was beginning to wonder if he was ever going to come home.
Many wives of pilots saw this deployment different from ones in the past.
"I was quite concerned about what was going on over there," one wife noted. "But I didn't feel too far away, with E-mail and the support of family and friends. That helped a lot. And I was reasonably confident he would be OK - he's in the best plane he could be in anyway."
Some wives of veteran pilots saw this support of NATO's Operation Allied Force as business as usual.
"There's no difference this time," another wife explained. "We're pretty used to this by now. It's his job, so it's acceptable."
Another wife said, "Yeah, he deployed, did the job, and now he's coming back, but e-mail was definitely a great plus this time around."
Eleven more jets returned Tuesday, and two more returned Wednesday.
"I'd like to recognize and welcome home the brave and dedicated men and women of the fightin' 49ers," said Brig. Gen. Bill Lake, 49th Fighter Wing commander at a press conference Saturday. "They are great Americans, I'm extremely proud of them, as is our national leadership.
"All our crews, whether it be air crews or ground crews and support members did a tremendous job providing support to NATO and campaign forces. Their skills have proven again that this base's commitment and contribution to aerospace power is a viable and powerful force."

F-117 SPO delivers upgrade in 32 days during strikes

By 1st Lt. Serena Mosley-Day
Aeronautical Systems Center Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) - Using the standard-setting Total System Performance Responsibility type of contract pioneered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base less than a year ago, the F-117 System Program Office supported an operational request from units supporting Operation Allied Force with 32 days from request to delivery.

The TSPR contract motivates the F-117 contractor, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, to be cost efficient by making the contractor an equal partner in any cost overages or savings, giving Lockheed Martin an incentive to beat the budget and earn additional profit. Any savings realized by the F-117 SPO are returned to Air Combat Command at the end of the fiscal year.

In mid-April, the F-117 SPO and Lockheed Martin received a request from deployed units of the 49th Fighter Wing to upgrade the ground-based mission planning system of the F-117.

While a permanent upgrade is planned to start in fiscal year 2000, the need for an increase in capability was immediate.

Mission planning for the F-117A Nighthawk is an intricate process that requires the aircraft's computers to have a detailed outline of the aerial route to avoid threats and accurately strike the target. The mission planning system ensures that the F-117 flies the most survivable route in high-threat areas against high-value targets.

Ground-based mission planning can start weeks or months before an aircraft leaves the ground. When it is time to fly the mission, the updated mission-planning information is loaded into the aircraft. The major components of a mission plan are the take-off point, the target or objective, and the landing point. With those major components established, provisions then are made for aerial refueling and the electronic order of battle, or EOB.

The EOB provides the planning system with information about enemy aircraft in range of the mission, enemy bases, surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft artillery sites and enemy radar. The mission planning system operators and electronic warfare officers develop routes that direct the F-117 around those sites. The mobile, van-based mission planning system can have a number of operators planning different missions simultaneously. The result was a mission-planning system that was two to three times faster.

In response to the operational request, the SPO used the flexibility given in the TSPR contract and allocated $500,000 of the cost savings from the contract, out of $1.2 million year to date. The SPO did an emergency upgrade using existing B-2 mission planning system hardware suites and slight modifications to current F-117 mission-planning software.

The mission planning systems were sent to the two air bases supporting the F-117s in Operation Allied Force: Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany and Aviano Air Base, Italy, increasing planning processing by almost three-fold.

The F-117 mission planning system prime contractor, Marconi Integrated Systems of San Diego, Calif., did the work on the computer upgrade and testing. Marconi was responsible for the upgrade and testing of the new computers to ensure that the existing F-117 software was modified to work properly in the B-2 computers.

The Air Force Mission Support System SPO at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., and Boeing of Wichita, Kan., the B-2 mission planning contractor, were instrumental in getting the hardware to Marconi and providing assistance during the software integration.

The systems will be returned to the B-2 program when the F-117s are returned to the United States. The computers of the B-2 mission planning system are compatible with the F-117s, largely because of compliance to a 1993 program management directive which stated all Air Force weapons systems that require advanced mission planning have their mission-planning systems based on the Air Force Mission Support System.

The AFMSS is the core of common, mission-planning tools, while the individual weapons systems' mission planning system fulfill needs specific to each airframe. There are 56 Air Force weapons or weapons systems that are using, or will use, the AFMSS.

Use of the B-2 hardware, which was intended for training, caused no setback to the B-2 mission support, since some training and eventual operational use was curtailed due to Operation Allied Force.

In addition, because the money spent to modify the B-2 hardware came from TSPR savings, it did not negatively affect the budgets of other programs within ACC or the F-117 SPO.

Feb 21, 1999 Deployment to
Aviano AB, Italy.
(8th EFS)

April 4, 1999 Deployment to
Spangdahlem AB, Germany.
(9th EFS)

Article # Squadron Tail Code
80-07887th FSHO
80-07917th FSHO
81-107958th FSHO
82-08008th FSHO
82-08038th FSHO
82-08057th FSHO
82-08067th FSHO
83-08079th FSHO
84-08287th FSHO
85-08178th FSHO
85-08209th FSHO
85-0833??? FS"49th FW"
Article # Squadron Tail Code
80-07869th FSHO
81-07949th FSHO
82-07998th FSHO
84-08099th FSHO
84-08109th FSHO
84-08249th FSHO
84-08269th FSHO
85-08188th FSHO
85-08198th FS"8FS"
85-08328th FSHO
86-08219th FSHO
88-08428th FSHO
88-08438th FS"49FW"

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