At the request of the commander in chief, U.S. Central Command, the Secretary of Defense has directed the deployment of an Air Expeditionary Force to Bahrain. This is the same Air Expeditionary Force previously approved and announced Tuesday for deployment to the Arabian Gulf.
Once constituted in theater, the Air Expeditionary Force will be designated the 347th Air Expeditionary Wing (Provisional) (AEW(P)).
The 347th Air Expeditionary Wing (Provisional) from Moody Air Force Base, Ga., will consist of 30 F-15 and F-16 aircraft, two B-1 bombers and four KC-135R tankers that will deploy to Bahrain over the weekend. These assets include:
- 12 F-15Cs from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
- 12 F-16Cs from Moody Air Force Base, Ga.
- 6 F-16C/Js from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.
- 2 B-1s from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D.
- 4 KC-135Rs from Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.
In addition, elements of a Patriot Battery from the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, from Fort Bliss, Texas, are being sent to Bahrain to provide ground air defense for the AEW(P).
This will be the sixth Air Expeditionary Force deployed by the U.S. Air Force to the region since the operational concept of the AEF was developed in 1995. Earlier deployments were to Bahrain (Oct-Dec 1995 and Sep-Oct 1996); Jordan (Apr-Jun 1996); and Qatar (Jun-Aug 1996 and Feb-May 1997). An AEF is a force package designed to deploy rapidly with about 30 aircraft and 1,000 personnel and be ready to commence air combat operations within 48 hours of deployment notification.
This deployment is intended to further augment existing forces in the area with additional air power and flexibility. This deployment is being conducted under the conditions of the Defense Cooperation Agreement between the United States and the government of Bahrain.