Cannon AFB 522nd Fighter Squadron

Cannon AFB 522nd Fighter Squadron poster art.

The men and women of the 522nd Fighter Squadron Fightin’ Fireballs operated and supported the F-16, and were part of the 27th Fighter Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, NM.  The 522nd’s primary mission was to maintain the continuous ability to rapidly deploy and support unified commanders worldwide with day or night F-16 combat operations. Additionally, the unit mission included the ability to decisively employ the F-16 throughout the entire spectrum of offensive and defensive missions including suppression of enemy air defenses, interdiction, close air support, strategic attack, and counter air through the employment of conventional and precision guided weapons.

The squadron was activated Feb. 1, 1940, at Barksdale Field, LA, as the 16th Bombardment Squadron (Light). Its first aircraft were the B-18 and A-24. The unit was later redesignated the 522nd Fighter Bomber Squadron, and then the 522nd Fighter Squadron. The Fireballs participated in combat operations in the Southwest Pacific in World War II flying the A-24, A-20, A-36, P-40, and P-47.  In the interwar period, the Fireballs flew the P-51 and F-82 fighters.  In 1950 they received the F-84 and flew in combat in the Korean War.  In 1957 the F-84’s were replaced by F-101’s and in 1959 the Fireballs moved to Cannon AFB, NM to begin flying the F-100.  It was with the F-100 that the Fireballs participated in several combat deployments to Southeast Asia.  Starting in 1969, the 522nd Fighter Squadron began flying variants of the F-111, starting with the F-111E.  In 1971 the unit temporarily operated the F-111A, and in 1972 they switched to the F-111D.

The Fireballs first flew the F-16 on Sept. 18, 1995, and officially became the first operational F-16 squadron on Cannon AFB in July 1996.  In 2003, the 522nd upgraded from the older Block 30 model to the newer Block 50 model F-16, and flew that version until the unit was inactivated in 2008. The squadron emblem features a blue background and cloud formation representing the theater where the mission is performed. The fireball, a dynamic force with striking power, represents crushing attacks directed on the enemy from the skies and wholly expresses the mission of the unit.


Design by Max Shirkov

Location: San Antonio, TX
Max Shirkov is one of our top artists and contributors, if you want to see more amazing art browse his portfolio.

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