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87th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron

87th Flying Training Squadron

87th Flying Training Squadron T-38s flying over Laughlin AFB
Active 18 August 1917 - 1 December 1918
19 February 1935 - 1 September 1936
9 February 1942 - 15 July 1947
1 November 1952 - 8 September 1955
8 April 1956 - 1 October 1985
2 April 1990 - Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Pilot Training
Part of Air Education and Training Command
19th Air Force
47th Flying Training Wing
47th Operations Group
Garrison/HQ Laughlin Air Force Base
Engagements World War II
*North African Campaign
*Operation Husky
* Operation Avalanche
*Italian Campaign
*Operation Dragoon
87th Flying Training Squadron emblem

The 87th Flying Training Squadron (87 FTS) is part of the 47th Flying Training Wing based at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. It operates T-38 Talon aircraft conducting flight training.

The squadron is one of the oldest in the United States Air Force, its origins dating to 18 August 1917, being organized at Selfridge Field, Mount Clemens, Michigan as a pilot training Squadron during World War I. The squadron saw combat during World War II, and became part of the Air Defense Command (ADC/ADCOM) during the Cold War.


First activated as the 87th Aero Squadron, the 87th saw brief service in the 1910s and again in the 1930s.

World War II

It was reactivated in 1942 when it was transferred to North Africa to fight against Germany's Afrika Korps. Following the German defeat and withdrawal from North Africa the 87th participated in the Allied Invasion of Sicily and Invasion of Italy and subsequent drive up the Italian Peninsula. During the Allied offensive in Italy the squadron was briefly dispatched to support the invasion of Southern France in 1944. Following the war the 87th was stationed in Austria for a short time before its return to the United States and inactivation.[1]

Air Defense Command

The 87th was again activated at Sioux City Municipal Airport, Iowa in 1952 to provide air defense of the central United States. Equipped with the F-51D Mustang, it was later equipped with the F-86D Sabre Interceptor in 1953 prior to being reassigned to USAFE, stationed at RAF Bentwaters, England in 1954 assisting in the air defense of the United Kingdom.[1]

Returned to CONUS in 1956 at Lockbourne AFB, Ohio with an air defense mission over the Ohio Valley. Was upgraded to the North American F-86L Sabre in 1957, an improved version of the F-86D which incorporated the Semi Automatic Ground Environment, or SAGE computer-controlled direction system for intercepts; upgraded again in 1960 to the supersonic F-102 Delta Dagger interceptor.[1]

The 87th was re-equipped with new McDonnell F-101B Voodoo supersonic interceptor, and the F-101F operational and conversion trainer in 1960. The two-seat trainer version was equipped with dual controls, but carried the same armament as the F-101B and were fully combat-capable. The F-101Bs were transferred to the Air National Guard in 1968 and the squadron moved to Duluth International Airport, Minnesota. At Duluth, was upgraded to the F-106 Delta Darts. During this period the squadron became known for its ability to perform cold weather operations.

The squadron was again moved to K. I. Sawyer Air Force Base, Michigan in 1971. Inactivated in 1985 after budget cuts forced the cancellation of its scheduled conversion to the F-15 Eagle.[1]

Modern era

The squadron was reactivated in 1990 and its mission changed to providing flight training. Today the squadron operates T-38 Talon aircraft providing training to pilot students on track to operate fighters or bombers.[1]


  • Designated as 87th Aero Squadron, and organized, on 18 Aug 1917
Redesignated: Squadron B, Park Field, on 25 Jul 1918
Demobilized on 1 Dec 1918
  • Reconstituted, and consolidated (1 Dec 1936) with unit constituted as 87th Pursuit Squadron on 19 Feb 1935
Organized on 1 Mar 1935
Inactivated 1 Sep 1936
Demobilized on 1 Jan 1938
  • Reconstituted, and consolidated (21 Mar 1979) with unit constituted as 87th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 13 Jan 1942
Redesignated 87th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) (Twin Engine) on 31 Jan 1942
Activated on 9 Feb 1942
Redesignated: 87th Fighter Squadron (Twin Engine) on 15 May 1942
Redesignated: 87th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, on 21 Aug 1944
Inactivated on 15 Jul 1947
  • Redesignated 87th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 11 Sep 1952
Activated on 1 Nov 1952
Inactivated on 8 Sep 1955
  • Activated on 8 Apr 1956
Inactivated on 1 Oct 1985
  • Redesignated 87th Flying Training Squadron on 9 Feb 1990
Activated on 2 Apr 1990.[2]




See also


  • A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, by Lloyd H. Cornett and Mildred W. Johnson, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado
  • Maurer, Maurer. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1982.
  • USAF Aerospace Defense Command publication, The Interceptor, January 1979 (Volume 21, Number 1).

External links

  • USAF 87th Flying Training Squadron History
  • 87th Flying Training Squadron Fact Sheet

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