HomeNewsArticle Display

F-16s provide essential support to US, coalition forces in Afghanistan

The 510th Expedtionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan delivers precision fire to protect U.S. and coalition forces in support of Operations Freedom Sentinel and the NATO Resolute Support mission.

The 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, delivers precision fire to protect U.S. and coalition forces in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel and the NATO Resolute Support mission. Both maintainers and pilots are essential to supporting the mission at Bagram Airfield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rito Smith)

The 510th Expedtionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan delivers precision fire to protect U.S. and coalition forces in support of Operations Freedom Sentinel and the NATO Resolute Support mission.

The 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan delivers precision fire to protect U.S. and coalition forces in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel and the NATO Resolute Support mission. Both maintainers and pilots are essential to supporting the mission at Bagram Airfield. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rito Smith)

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) --

During a recent raid on a terrorist stronghold in a remote Afghan village, U.S. ground forces came under enemy fire. They called for close air support, and shortly thereafter, an F-16 Fighting Falcon dropped munitions to eliminate the threat.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Freeborn, 510th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron commander, distinctly remembers that mission.

“What really struck me about that particular mission was this village was small, and our troops took more risk than they could have in order to protect the civilian population,” Freeborn said. “For us it’s more important to protect the population and support the government of Afghanistan than it is to apply massive fire to the ground.”

The 510th EFS at Bagram Airfield delivers precision fire to protect U.S. and coalition forces in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the NATO Resolute Support mission. While many fighter squadrons have multi-role missions and train across the spectrum of air threats, surface threats and close air support strategic strikes, this team focuses mainly on the close air support aspect. Freeborn said the airpower they deliver helps ensure the safety of the ground forces they support.

“Oftentimes we spend a couple of hours just flying over watch,” Freeborn said. “Then when a firefight kicks off, we have almost no warning and have to get there quickly to provide that coverage for the ground troops.”

Freeborn said building and maintaining a positive relationship with the F-16 maintainers is paramount in ensuring operations run smoothly.

“The trust we need to have in them is amplified because we fly single-engine, single-seat aircraft where there’s not a large margin for error,” Freeborn said. “Our aircraft maintenance unit is among one of the best I’ve had the chance to work with.”

With operations going around the clock, keeping these aircraft mission ready in a combat zone is a daunting task for the 510th Aircraft Maintenance Unit; but they are up to the challenge.

“Everyone here is focused on the mission,” said Chief Master Sgt. Seth Lininger, 510th AMU superintendent. “We just make sure we can get aircraft in the air 24/7.”

Lininger said when an F-16 returns with empty rails—meaning they dropped munitions—maintenance Airmen do an end-of-fire inspection, load new munitions and ensure all the aircraft systems are functional before preparing for another flight.

“We have a nonstop flow of aircraft into the air,” Lininger said. “We want to make sure our ground troops are always covered.”

The close relationship between the flying squadron and maintenance unit started well before this deployment; the Airmen are also stationed together at Aviano Air Base, Italy, and have been preparing for their mission here together for over a year.

Lininger and Freeborn said the 510th EFS takes great pride in their work and come together as a seamless team to ensure mission accomplishment. As an F-16 pilot, Freeborn said his job is satisfying because he sees the immediate impacts of his role, which is all about taking care of the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines on the ground.

“There’s nothing as satisfying as hearing, ‘good effects’ from the ground party,” Freeborn said. “You get that immediate feedback when you drop a bomb in close proximity to friendlies, and it hits the target and protects civilians and friendly troops. That’s the most rewarding feeling.”

The 510th EFS and 510th AMU are part of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, the Air Force’s premier counterterrorism wing in Afghanistan. Headquartered at Bagram, the wing has geographically separated units at Kandahar and Jalalabad airfields in Afghanistan and provides decisive airpower throughout the region.

Engage

Facebook Twitter
RT @AstroHague: On our way to the launch complex at Baikonur Cosmodrome. Lift off on #PiDay...an engineer’s dream come true. Next stop, @Sp
.@AstroHague is one of few #astronauts to survive an aborted post-launch space mission. Hear his harrowing journey,… https://t.co/q5noJpVbdf
.@SecAFOfficial & @GenDaveGoldfein outline service’s priorities, aspirations to Senate subcommittee. #FY2020https://t.co/QSPay0Hbld
Nothing says #goodmorning like a good morning #FODWalk! SSgt. Benjamin Jordan, production controller w/ the 911th… https://t.co/4u8R627zVt
It takes a lot to provide air support for a major military exercise. #Airmen from the 37th Airlift Squadron, based… https://t.co/wXXE5Rvj3A
#USAF, Republic of Singapore Air Force & the Royal Thai #AirForce join together to enhance the three nations' milit… https://t.co/NLN6cSLwjQ
How do you find your inner #hero? This #CitizenAirman creates his own #comicbooks to overcome his challenges & insp… https://t.co/PZr3wb9qjo
RT @SecAFOfficial: Great to chat w/ space coast community leaders about how Florida Coast partnerships enable our nation’s #space mission.…
RT @nyit: President Hank Foley moderated an insightful conversation featuring @USAirforce's Dr. Will Roper and @RepTomSuozzi and discussed…
Peace meets pandemonium as @20FighterWing Security Forces #Airmen go to battle in force-on-force training.… https://t.co/hP4l8H9XGi
LIVE at 10 am: @SecAFOfficial & @GenDaveGoldfein provide testimony at a Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee… https://t.co/Qc8h81cRPB
RT @AETCommand: A 81st #SecurityForces Squadron #militaryworkingdog aren't to be messed with! Truly a lethal force from @Keesler_AFB Read m…
Like cars, jets require routine maintenance too. See what the #USAF's B-52 Stratofortress endures to pass inspectio… https://t.co/gsxZFYLLE9
#Airmen across @RamsteinAirBase recently wrapped Exercise Tacet Vevari, better known as the "silent hunt" to identi… https://t.co/vBalvhLeWh
“The strategic value of the Arctic as our first line of defense has reemerged...” - USAF Gen. Terrence O’Shaughness… https://t.co/fbMi1qfz59
The #USAF’s budget would rise to $165B in #FY2020 under the White House spending plan unveiled March 12, a $10B inc… https://t.co/NjGUdeSiAE
This #Airman is paving a runway that would allow her to take off to a bright future for herself & those women & you… https://t.co/gcPWPk9u5f
#ICYMI: @28thBombWing #EOD accounted for 400+ @USNavy projectiles after highway collision. https://t.co/hbO70xcZpy https://t.co/GUeRPKwD03
In celebration of #WomensHistoryMonth, we recognize the first female #Airman to be selected for the grade of E-9, C… https://t.co/KIXeYUuBg8
RT @HQ_AFMC: This #rodeo didn't feature cowboys & girls--rather, it lasso'd up the next BIG ideas in @usairforce #innovation including new…