Reinforcing the UK: USAF Cold War Fighter Deployments

From the late 1970s, the USAF’s Tactical Air Command developed detailed deployment plans to move aircraft to Europe to counter the Warsaw Pact should the Cold War heat up. Dr Kevin Wright looks at how these plans were implemented in Britain from 1978 to 1991.

On May 1, 1978, General Wilbur ‘Bill’ Creech, head of the USAF’s Tactical Air Command (TAC), introduced major changes to its training and operations. In the book Creech Blue by Lt Col James Slife, the general is quoted as saying that a key goal was that Each unit [had] to become familiar with its wartime co-located operating bases [the airfields they would operate from during times of war]. We should be able to deploy and hit the ground in a fighting posture and the only way we can accomplish this is by knowing everything possible about the deployment site.” By October that year, these ideas had been given the name ‘Checkered Flag’ and replaced earlier contingency deployment plans.

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