Twenty-five years later: Fairchild in Desert Storm

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Sam Fogleman
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Twenty five years ago, aircraft and personnel from Fairchild played an integral role in one of the most decisive battlefield victories in military history since World War II, providing fuel and logistical supports to joint and coalition partners.

KC-135 Stratotankers and aircrews from Fairchild Air Force Base flew 4,004 hours and 721 sorties during Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM in the early months of 1991. The 43rd and 92nd Air Refueling Squadrons also contributed greatly to the effort, including flying 200 combat sorties. Fairchild tankers offloaded 22.5 million pounds of fuel to receiver aircraft that included the A-6, A-10, B-52, C-5, EA-6, EC-130, F-4, F-111, F-117A, KC-10 and Tornado.

The 92nd Bombardment Wing, the host wing at Fairchild AFB until the early 1990s, was also actively involved in the Gulf War. The B-52 crews that deployed from the 325th Bombardment Squadron flew five combat sorties, each lasting more than 15 hours, during which each crew released approximately 51 bombs.

Operation DESERT STORM lasted officially from Jan. 16 to Feb. 27, 1991. The 92nd BW was first tasked for DESERT SHIELD Aug. 15, 1990. An initial team of more than 50 deployed Aug. 20, 1990. Tankers supported the European Tanker Task Force, Alaskan TTF and Pacific TTF. Deployed Fairchild members supported more than 30 DESERT EXPRESS missions by daily delivering spare parts, rapidly moving high priority parts to the theater. The bombers were deployed to Diego Garcia to supplement the desert operation. In total, the 92nd BW deployed about 560 personnel to the two operations.

"Yesterday, at the beginning of the ground war, Iraq had the fourth largest army in the world," said then U.S. Central Command commander in chief, Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf in 1991. "Today, they have the second largest army in Iraq."

(Information in this article was derived from information provided by the 92nd Air Refueling Wing Historian's office.)