JANUARY 10—11 At Griffiss Air Force Base, New York, the 416th Bombard­ment Wing receives the first two Boeing air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) for testing and maintenance training. These revolutionary weapons possess a 1,500- mile range, carry nuclear or conventional warheads, and navigate through a precise terrain-contour matching system allow­ing high-speed ingress to targets at low altitude.

JANUARY 12 In Puerto Rico, terrorists destroy nine parked A-7D Corsair II air­craft belonging to the 156th Tactical Fighter Group, Air National Guard.

January 23 Two hundred and forty miles west of Honolulu, Hawaii, two heli­copters from the 6594th Test Group hoist an injured seaman from a merchant vessel.

JANUARY 25 At Wiesbaden, West Ger­many, an Air Force VC-137 transport flies 52 former American hostages to the United States and freedom.

FEBRUARY 10 In Las Vegas, Nevada, three U-1 helicopters dispatched by the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing rescue nine guests trapped on the roof of the 30-story Las Vegas Hilton.

February 26-March 6 The 7206th Air Base Group, Hellenikon Air Base, assist relief efforts with supplies and equipment in the wake of severe earth­quakes in central Greece.

MARCH 12 The Aerospace Defense Command selects Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, as the backup facility for the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) in the event of technical failure.

MARCH 17 The first McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender is delivered to Strategic Air Command (SAC); this aircraft carries more fuel and cargo than the KC-135 Stratotanker it will replace.

MARCH 18 Eighty F-15 Eagles are deliv­ered to the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing, which transfers its 79 F-4 Phantoms to other commands. This completes the conversion of the Pacific Air Forces to F-15 standards.

Подпись: Freed American hostages greet a crowd on their arrival from Algiers after leaving Tehran, Iran, January 1981. They had been held hostage in the U.S. embassy by Iranian students since November 4, 1979. (Department of Defense)

April 1 The Air Force deploys the 527th Tactical Fighter Training Aggressor Squadron to RAF Alconbury, England, to further hone the skill of its fighter pilots. It is equipped with Northrop F – 5E Tiger IIs, which simulate Soviet fight­ers during air-to-air combat drills.

April 12—14 At Cape Canaveral, Florida, the space shuttle Columbia is launched for the first time. This milestone flight involves taking off like a rocket then returning to Earth as a conventional airplane. Communications with the vehicle are also facilitated by the Aero­space Defense Command and the Air Force Communications Command.

May 2 At White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico, the Airborne Laser Labora­tory (ALL) successfully downs an aerial target drone. This aircraft in question is a modified KC-135 carrying a carbon dioxide laser.

June 14 The United States Air Force in Europe’s (USAFE) 32nd and 36th Tacti­cal Fighter Wings contribute seven F-15s to the Tactical Air Command’s Red Flag exercise.

June 18 At Tonopah Test Range, Nevada, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft performs its maiden flight at night for security reasons. Extreme secrecy surrounds the test program until 1988.

July South of Osan Air Base, South Korea, 118 people are assisted from rising floodwaters by helicopters of the 33rd Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squad­ron (ARRS).

August 3 Air Force controllers are call­ed in to fill in, after civilian air traffic controllers stage an illegal strike, to al­low commercial air travel to continue safely.

AUGUST 15 At Griffiss Air Force Base, New York, the first air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) are fitted to B-52G bombers. This weapon adds new and potentially lethal capabilities to the aging aircraft.

September 14 At Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) deploy the first operational F-16 Falcons in this theater.

September 15 The first Lockheed TR – 1A strategic reconnaissance aircraft are delivered to the Strategic Air Command (SAC); this latest version of the venerable U-2 spyplane is capable of all-weather operations from altitudes of 70,000 feet.

At RAF Lakenheath, the 494th Tacti­cal Fighter Squadron, the first unit equipped with Pave Tack laser-guided weapons systems mounted on their F- 111s, is deployed on operational status.

September 21 Off the Philippine coast, members of the grounded Philippine destroyer Datu Kalantiaw are rescued by helicopters of the Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (ARRS); in the past 35 years, the ARRS has saved 20,000 lives.

OCTOBER At Sheppard Air Force Base, the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program is initiated.

OCTOBER 1 At Mather Air Force Base, California, the Air Training Command begins training German weapons systems officers for the European Tornado fighter-bomber.

OCTOBER 14 The Tactical Air Com­mand (TAC) deploys two E-3A Sen­try aircraft to monitor regional events in the Middle East following the assassina­tion of Egyptian prime minister Anwar Sadat.

OCTOBER 21 At Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, the new Joint Jet Pilot Training Program accepts candidates from NATO members.

NOVEMBER 5 At Mountain Home, Idaho, the first operational EF-111A Raven deploys with the 388th Electronic Combat Squadron (ECS). Popularly known as the “Spark Vark,” it replaces EB-66 and EB-57 aircraft in electronic warfare and defense suppression missions.

NOVEMBER 23 Over Egypt, Operation bright star 82 unfolds as eight B-52 bombers fly 15,000 miles from North Dakota to drop training bombs on a prac­tice airfield target. This is the longest B-52 bombing mission conducted to date and requires 31 hours and three air refuelings.

December 31 At Hahn Air Base, West Germany, the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing receives the first operational F-16s assigned to the United States Air Force in Europe (USAFE).