|Country United States|
Garrison/HQ Spangdahlem Air Base
|Active 1942-1944, 1951-1956, 1957-1994, 2010-present|
Branch United States Air Force
Part of United States Air Forces in Europe
The 480th Fighter Squadron is an active United States Air Force unit. It is assigned to the 52d Operations Group, stationed at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. It was reactivated on 13 August 2010.
World War II
Established by III Bomber Command as a B-26 Marauder training squadron.
Tactical Air Command
The 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron' was established in 1957 at England Air Force Base, Louisiana, as the 480th Fighter Bomber Squadron, flying North American F-100 Super Sabres. In 1959 it was inactivated again due to budgetary reductions. Three years later it was reactivated again under United States Air Forces in Europe, flying the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak. In 1963 it was re-equipped with F-100s, but withdrawn from France upon request of French government.
Reassigned to Hollomon AFB, New Mexico (USA), it was re-equipped with F-4C Phantom II fighters. The squadron was deployed to Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam, in 1966 as part of USAF buildup in Southeast Asia and was engaged in combat operations, primarily over North Vietnam, from 1966 to 1971. In November 1967, a member of the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Capt. Lance Sijan, ejected his disabled aircraft and was badly injured in North Vietnam. Despite his injuries, he evaded enemy forces for more than 40 days and then, when captured, managed to escape briefly. Captain Sijan later died in a prison camp and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
In 1969 the squadron moved to Phù Cát Air Base (tail code: HK), South Vietnam, scoring nine MiG kills. The continued drawdown of United States forces from Vietnam resulted in the inactivation of 37th TFW at Phù Cát AB on 31 March 1970. The wing assets remained and were re-designated as the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing when the 12 TFW was moved without personnel or equipment from Cam Ranh Bay Air Base on 1 April 1970, to replace the 37th Tactical Fighter Wing and its units. On 20 October 1971, the 480th TFS flew its last combat mission, which was also the last combat sortie for 12 TFW. 480 TFS F-4Ds were originally scheduled for redeployment to Holloman AFB, however, instead were distributed to bases throughout Southeast Asia: Clark Air Base, Philippines; Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base and Udon AB, Thailand; Da Nang AB; and Inspection and Repair as Necessary facilities (IRAN) at Ching Chuan Kang Air Base Taiwan. The 480 TFS was therefore inactivated, again.
The 480th began its service with the 52d Tactical Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, when it moved to the base in 1976, flying F-4D Phantom IIs, then F-4G Advanced Wild Weasels as part of the Wild Weasel mission. In 1987, the 480th started flying F-16C Fighting Falcon and became the USAF's first squadron to be equipped with the Block 50 F-16s in 1993. In 1994 the squadron was inactivated again as part of the post Cold War force reductions.
In April 2010 the 52nd Fighter Wing's strength was reduced by one third when 20 F-16Cs were transferred to other units. As a result of the drawdown of F-16s, the 22d and 23d Fighter Squadrons were inactivated on 13 August 2010 and formed a single "new" squadron, the 480th Fighter Squadron.
In March 2012, the 480th was sent to train with the Turkish Air Force in Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses.