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Our History!

History and Information of the Actual

493rd Fighter Squadron

History of the 493rd Fighter Squadron


Originally constituted the 56th Bombardment Squadron (Light) on 20 November 1940, the squadron activated on 15 January 1941 at Savannah, GA, flying the A-18. On 23 May 1941, operations moved to Will Rogers Field, Oklahoma, and crews began flying the A-20.
On 27 February 1942, the squadron moved back to Savannah and began conducting anti-submarine patrols. Re-designated the 56th Bombardment Squadron (Dive) on 28 August 1942, the squadron remained in Georgia until 15 August 1943. At this time, they moved to William Northern Field, TN, and were re-designated the 493rd Fighter Bomber Squadron, conducting replacement training in the P-39.
The squadron saw action in World War II flying the P-47 Thunderbolt in the European Theater. Operations proceeded from numerous aerodromes: Ibsley, England; Deux Jumeaux, Villacoublay, and Cambia/Nigergaies, France; St. Trond, Belgium; Kelz, Kassel, and Illeshheim, Germany; then back to France at Laon. The squadron was credited with 11 aerial victories by the end of the war. The squadron then moved to Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, and inactivated on 7 November 1945.
Reactivated on 25 June 1952, the 493rd Fighter Bomber Squadron was assigned to Chaumont AB, France, flying the F-84G Thunderjet. In 1953, the squadron began flying the F-86F Sabre and in 1956, changed to the new F-100 Super Sabre. On 8 July 1958, the squadron was re-designated the 493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron.
The squadron made its final move on 6 January 1960, to RAF Lakenheath, and continued to fly the F-100 Super Sabre until 1972. From 1972 to 1977, the 493rd flew the F-4D Phantom II until adopting the F-111F Aardvark. The 493rd Tactical Fighter Squadron received its last re-designation in February 1992, becoming the 493rd Fighter Squadron.
The 493rd saw combat in the F-111F twice. First, the squadron led the 1986 bombing of Libya (Operation ELDORADO CANYON), and more recently, during Operation DESERT STORM for the liberation of Kuwait. The 493rd Fighter Squadron closed its F-111F contributions to the Air Force history through their noteworthy support of Operation PROVIDE COMFORT, aiding United Nations peacekeeping efforts. The squadron was inactivated on 14 December 1992.


The 493rd Fighter Squadron was reactivated, flying air superiority F-15Cs, on 7 January 1994, and was declared mission-ready on 12 June 1994. It returned to Operation PROVIDE COMFORT from June to December 1994. Since September 1995, the "Grim Reapers" have participated in 12 deployments to 4 different countries, performing a variety of missions to include: Air patrol missions over Northern Iraq to enforce the United Nations "no-fly zone" in support of Operations PROVIDE COMFORT / NORTHERN WATCH and participation in the Joint Chiefs of Staff Exercise AFRICAN EAGLE 1996 at Morocco. From June 1997 to July 1997, the 493rd deployed to CONUS for 2 weeks at Cold Lake Air Base, Canada, for Exercise MAPLE FLAG, followed by 2 weeks at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, for COMBAT ARCHER (an Air-to-Air Weapons System Evaluation Program).
In the past two years, the 493rd has had an outstanding record. In November 1996 the 493rd conducted a sole MDS Phase I exercise to test our readiness and capability to meet DOC - never before accomplished - blazing a trail for all other fighter squadrons to follow. It was the only F-15 unit worldwide to meet or exceed all maintenance indicators for FY97, which led to the squadron capturing the 1997 Maintenance Effectiveness Award. This performance contributed to the wing's record that won the 1995 USAF Daedalian and Colombian trophies, the 1996 USAFE Secretary of Defense Phoenix Award for Maintenance Excellence, and the nomination for the 1997 USAFE Daedalian Maintenance Award. In October 1996, the squadron garnered "Best seen in two years...never seen anything like it" remarks for NATO TAC EVAL Rapid Reaction Force Employment. Selected to represent USAFE at the Worldwide Air-to-Air Competition WILLIAM TELL '96, the 493RD team won the live missile fire profile. Finally, in April 1998, the 493rd won the 1997 Hughes Trophy for the "Best Air Defense Squadron in the United States Air Force."
The 493rd Fighter Squadron rapidly mobilizes, generates, and deploys combat-ready F-15C aircraft and personnel to perform Air Superiority and Air Defense missions in support of US USEUCOM and NATO war plans and commitments. The 305 men and women and 24 combat coded F-15C aircraft of the "Grim Reapers" guarantee air supremacy whenever and wherever called.
The 493rd again made history in 1999. In early January, Saddam Hussein increased his SAM and AAA activity in an attempt to shoot down coalition aircraft. As a result, on February 6th, the Reapers again deployed to support Operation NORTHERN WATCH (ONW). Despite Hussein’s desperate efforts, the Reapers flew 137 combat sorties and permitted no Iraqi violations of the northern no-fly zone. On February 20th, during the deployment to ONW, the Balkan situation threatened international stability and the Reapers deployed 12 F-15Cs to Cervia AB, Italy, to support Operation DELIBERATE FORGE/ALLIED FORCE (OAF). For the next month, the 493rd supported two combat contingencies in geographically separated locations, another first for an F-15C squadron. As Yugoslavia defied NATO’s ultimatum, six 493 FS aircraft at ONW re-deployed on 22 March to Cervia AB, Italy, marking the first time in history that an F-15C unit deployed directly from one combat contingency location to another. With the speed that only airpower brings to modern conflict, the Reapers increased the number of F-15Cs supporting OAF to 18 only 16 hours after receiving the verbal order to move. Just two days later, on March 24th, the 493rd Expeditionary Fighter Squadron began 24-hour combat operations that continued for 78 days. The Reapers achieved the first aerial victory of the war and shot down a total of four MiG-29s during the first 72 hours of combat, leading to theater air superiority. History had repeated itself against a new enemy. The Reapers also led the protection package for the successful Search and Rescue operation of a downed F-117 pilot, ensuring no lives or aircraft were lost and the pilot returned home safely.
During FY99, the squadron flew 4,310 accident-free sorties totaling 10,727.7 hours, over half of which were in combat. This was only the third time in history, and the first time in USAFE, that an F-15 squadron has flown over 10,000 hours in a single year—an impressive tribute to the world-class 493 FS maintenance professionals. The Reapers led the FY99 worldwide F-15C fleet in Mission Capable (MC) rate with an impressive 82.8%, while concurrently leading active duty F-15C units in six of 11 maintenance standards. Despite the all-time high combat operations tempo, maintenance supported deployments to Karup Denmark for Tactical Fighter Weaponry training, to Florennes, Belgium for the Tactical Leadership Program, and L’Orange, France for NATO exercises. The Reapers also participated in a large force exercise flown from home station, against German F-4s and MiG-29s, Dutch F-16s and KC-10s, NATO AWACS, USAF F-15Es and F-16 C/Js, and USN F-14s and F-18s.
The Reapers are dedicated to the safe and effective accomplishment of every mission, both in peacetime and combat. Since the beginning of FY 94, the 493rd has flown 21,687 accident free sorties for 39,063 hours, and over half of the flying hours in mishap-free FY 99 were flown in combat. Eight of our Maintainers have been awarded 48FW Special Achievement medals for aircraft and life saving acts. The 493rd has been continually recognized for its continuing excellence, winning the 1997 Hughes Trophy for Best Air Superiority Squadron in the Air Force and this year garnering the 1998 USAFE Commander’s Trophy as USAFE’s Fighter Squadron of the Year.
Our vision for the 21st century is to continue the proud history of the Grim Reapers: to continue to have the best equipped and best trained personnel and the finest jets in the Air Force, to maintain our tradition as the world’s most lethal Air Superiority Squadron, and to guarantee air superiority against any enemy. To continue to be "The Team" that our leaders choose for the toughest missions, anytime, anyplace. That’s Gold Standard.

Text from the Official 48th FW website