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SLIDESHOW: 115th Wing lands in Saudi Arabia for final F-16 deployment

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 11:53 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Hundreds of members of the Wisconsin National Guard’s 115th Fighter Wing arrived in Saudi Arabia earlier this week for what will be the Madison-based unit’s final deployment with the outgoing F-16 fighters.

According to the military, approximately 300 Airmen touched down at Prince Sultan Air Base to join up with the 378th Air Expeditionary Wing. Their mission is to provide air support for U.S. Central Command operations in the region.

The Madison-based fighter wing is starting to say goodbye to its F-16 fleet, which has been stationed at Truax Field since 1992, as they make way for the U.S. military’s next generation of fighters: the F-35s. A spokesperson pointed out that in their time, pilots flying F-16s performed 49,000 sorties around the world.

“We have answered our call time and time again with professionalism, dedication to duty, and unwavering excellence,” 115th commander Col. Bart Van Roo said. “As you embark on our last deployment in the F-16, I want you to enjoy this tremendous opportunity for our great team.”

Last week, the first F-16 to arrive at the base nearly three decades ago became the first one to depart for good. Prior to its departure, Truax Field was home to 21 of the aircrafts. They are expected to be replaced by 18 F-35s which should arrive in 2023, the military has said.

In the statement about the Middle East mission, Gov. Tony Evers thanked the members of the 115th for their dedication to their communities and the state, adding, “I am confident that you will perform your federal mission overseas with the same tenacity and dedication you have shown in supporting the missions asked of you here at home.”

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