Ironmen rejoin Fighting First after NDAA report
On 6 January 2023, the 1st Fighter Wing reactivated the 71st Fighter Squadron "Ironmen" during a ceremony on Joint Base Langley-Eustis (VA). The Ironmen will now serve as the Formal Training Unit (FTU) for USAF's F-22A Raptor.
Earlier, Scramble Magazine wrote about the US National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA). At the beginning of December 2022, a surprise move revealed that the NDAA prohibited the retirement of Lockheed Martin F-22A Block 20 Raptors. Also, the USAF had to report on plans for basing the different Block F-22As with the establishment of a Raptor FTU. The latter has now been materialised.
Following the reactivation of the 71st Fighter Squadron, resorting under the 1st Fighter Wing "Fighting First" at Langley-Eustis, also the 71st Fighter Generation Squadron was erected. The 71st FGS will be mainly responsible for the 71st FS Raptor's maintenance.
Until recently, from 2015 on, the 71st Fighter Squadron flew as the 71st Fighter Training Squadron, operating some fifteen T-38A/B Talons, in the adversary and training role. Before 2015, the Ironmen operated the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle from 1976 until 2010.
The FF "Fighting First" coded Ironmen have a special bond with the Netherlands. During a span of six years, from 1978 to 1984, the 71st Fighter Squadron (back then the 71st Tactical Fighter Squadron) was a guest during deployments at Soesterberg Air Base (The Netherlands) three times.
Photo via USAF