In October 1977, the 49th TFW ended its “dual-base” commitment to NATO and changed to an air superiority mission with the wing beginning a conversion from the F-4D Phantom II to the F-15A Eagle; the 49th being the second USAF operational wing to receive the F-15A. The transition was completed 4 June 1978.

Due to the change in equipment, the annual NATO deployments were taken over by the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, in 1978, however they resumed (although not on an annual basis) in 1981. In the United States, training missions was refocused on dissimilar air combat tactics for multi-theater operations, participating in numerous Red Flags, Joint Training exercises, and deployments in the Air Defense/Superiority Mission. Frequent deployments were made to Nellis AFB, Nevada to exercise with the F-5E Tiger II “Aggressor” aircraft of the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing, and other aircraft types (including clandestine exercises with Soviet aircraft flown by the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Tonopah Test Range Airport, Nevada). Also, after TAC absorbed the interceptor mission of Aerospace Defense Command (ADTAC) in 1979, the Squadron maintained the TAC NORAD Air Defense Alert commitment in the Eagle, with the best scramble times in NORAD.

On 12 October 1989, the squadron was called into action once again. Several F-15A aircraft deployed to Howard AFB, Panama in support of Operation Just Cause. The purpose of this deployment was to support President Bush’s national drug control strategy. During this operation, General Manuel Noriega surrendered and was transported back to Homestead AFB, Florida where he was arraigned on federal drug trafficking charges. No combat sorties however, were flown in support of the removal of Noriega and the squadron returned to Holloman by the end of October.

With the introduction of the F-15C Eagle in the mid-1980s, the upgraded Eagle began replacing the F-15A/Bs in service with all of the USAF units that had previously been operating the Eagle with the exception of the 49th TFW. By the time of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, the F-15A Eagles at Holloman had been relegated to a training role; combat deployments of the Eagle were the purview of F-15C units.

During the 1980’s the 7th Tactical Fighter Squadron deployed a couple of times;

Westover AB, Utah 1985 in support of Red Flag
Red Flag 86-01 Nellis AFB
Gilze Rijen AB, Netherlands,  ” Coronet Scout”  from May 29th till June 24th 1986
William Tell Competition 1988 , Tyndall AFB

During the deployment to Gilze-Rijen AB in 1986, Capt “Link” authored a song that the pilots of the 7th TFS adopted as theirs.

The tune is “But there wasn’t quite as many as there was a while ago”

“In 1986 we took a little trip, across the broad Atlantic in a Bunyap twenty ship.
We took our AIM-7s and we took our AIM-9Ls
and we met the bloody commies and we blew’em all to hell…

We fired Fox One’s but the commies kept a comin’
There must have been a hundred of them running in the sun
We fired AIM-9s and then commenced to Gunning
and chased the bloody bastards all the way back to Moscow…

Old G’man said if we grab’em by the balls we can back the bloody bastards
up against the burning walls,
so we thumbed it back to heaters and fired another round
than we pooped the boards, lit the burners, and egressed back around…

We fired Fox One’s but the commies kept a comin’
There must have been a hundred of them running in the sun
We fired AIM-9s and then commenced to Gunning
and chased the bloody bastards all the way back to Moscow…

and they turned high tails and lit their afterburners..
and they ran like rabbits just as fast as they could go,
they ran so fast that out Lima’s couldn’t catch’em
accross the Polish border all the way back to Moscow….

by Capt. “Link”

( I am searching for more information of the 7th FS, like squadron competition, history, photos and personal stories related to the squadron. Any information you would like to donate can be sent to eagle@skytrailer.com