|The 18th Fighter Squadron flies the Block 40 General Dynamics F-16C/D aircraft. |
In 1997, elements of the 18th FS deployed to Singapore and Malaysia to take part in dissimilar air combat tactic training as part of exercise COMMANDO SLING and COPE TAUFAN, respectively. The COPE TAUFAN deployment marked the first time Pacific Air Forces' F-16s had flown against MiG-29s.
The unit deployed to Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, October-December 1998 to support Operation Southern Watch.
Later, the squadron deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, September–December 2000, employing 5 F-16 aircraft and 110 personnel, conducting the first ever Combat Search and Rescue support tasking for an F-16 squadron in support of Operation Northern Watch.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, the 18th FS was called to generate eight aircraft for Alaska NORAD air defense during Operation NOBLE EAGLE, though the aircraft never had to launch.
The squdron's next deployment was to Al Jaber AB, Kuwait, Dec 2001-Mar 2002 to support simultaneous combat operations for Operations SOUTHERN WATCH and ENDURING FREEDOM. They flew more than 3,200 hours in only 3 months, an amazing feat for the 142 Blue Foxes who deployed with only 10 aircraft. During that time, the 18th FS flew missions in support of Operation ANACONDA, including one in the Shah-I-Kot valley on March 2 when U.S. forces, engaged in a firefight with Taliban and Al Qaeda forces, called for aerial assistance. A number of Blue Foxes responded, dropping bombs with pinpoint accuracy on the opposing forces. Two 18 FS pilots received Distinguished Flying Crosses for their efforts.
The squadron deployed to Andersen AFB, Guam in support of Operation NOBLE EAGLE during March 2003. The unit also participated in COMMANDO SLING, in October 2003.
As part of the change from COPE THUNDER to RED FLAG — ALASKA, the 18th FS will be converting to the 18th Aggressor Squadron. This squadron will train in the same manner as the aggressors at Nellis AFB, learning the flying styles and abilities of foreign air forces to train USAF pilots. Aircraft changes entail sending all 18 of its Block 40 F-16 Fighting Falcons to Kunsan AB, Korea, and receiving 18 Block 30 F-16s from Kunsan. At a time unspecified, the 18th will achieve a full complement of 24 F-16 fighters.