60th FS reactivates as second F-35A unit at Eglin AFB

The US Air Force (USAF) officially reactivated the 60th Fighter Squadron (FS) 'Fighter Crows' at Eglin Air Force Base (AFB), Florida, under the 33rd Fighter Wing (FW) - a component of the 19th Air Force, Air Education and Training Command (AETC) - on August 20.

The squadron will plan and execute a training curriculum in support of US Air Force training requirements for the F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. The unit becomes the second F-35A squadron under the 33rd FW, joining the 58th FS ‘Mighty Gorillas.’

Col Jack Arthaud, 33rd FW commander, said “Standing up a second F-35 squadron marks a pivotal moment in our Wing’s history as a premier producer of combat readiness. The F-35 is foundational to the Air Force’s future fighter force and expanding our training capacity helps to ensure our Combat Air Forces are provided with the airmen and pilots needed to maintain our nation’s asymmetric competitive advantage… Airpower anytime, anywhere.”

33rd FW F-35A
A 33rd Fighter Wing (FW) F-35A Lightning II takes off from Eglin AFB, Florida, on May 7 at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. A second squadron was formed under the 33rd FW on August 20 to train F-35A pilots. USAF/Senior Airman Amber Litteral

USAF history will be honoured, as the reactivation took place on the 75th anniversary of its previous activation, when was reactivated for the first time after the end of World War Two on August 20, 1946. The original activation of the 60th FS took place on January 15, 1941, as the 60th Pursuit Squadron based at Mitchel Field, New York, operating the Bell P-39 Airacobra.

The 60th FS heritage includes a Distinguished Unit Citation in 1943, the 1996 Hughes Trophy as the best air defence/air superiority squadron in the US Air Force and five US Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the ‘Fighting Crows’ provided near constant support for Operation Noble Eagle. It most recent iteration had been as an F-15 Eagle unit at Eglin before being disbanded on January 1, 2009. Incremental arrival of additional F-35A aircraft is expected to begin this autumn.