PCS Guide: 31st Fighter Wing, Aviano Air Base, Italy

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas-- -- Aviano Air Base, located in Northern Italy, is the home of the 31st Fighter Wing. The base maintains two F-16 fighter squadrons, the 555th FS and the 510th FS in support of its mission: to deliver combat power and support worldwide to achieve U.S. and NATO objectives.

The 31st FW is the only U.S. fighter wing south of the Alps and thus plays a critical role in NATO operations in the southern region.

The wing is comprised of four groups and more than 15 squadrons. There is also one tenant unit, the 724th Air Mobility Squadron, which falls under the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany and one geographically separated unit, the 731st Munitions Squadron at Camp Darby, Italy. The wing also provides support to numerous other geographically separated units.

In July 1994, the wing provided support for NATO's first operational mission, Deny Flight. During Operation Deliberate Force, 31st FW F-16s flew more than 400 combat sorties. When the operation ended, the wing's focus changed to support what is now Operation Deliberate Forge.

THE HISTORY OF AVIANO AB

Aviano AB was established in 1911 by the Italian government. Before World War I, the base was used to train pilots and construct air craft. During the war, it was used to fly air missions against Austro-Hungarian and German forces. At this time, Capt. Mauizio Pagliano and Lt. Luigi Gori, Italian pilots, flew an unauthorized air raid against Austrian naval yards in what is now Croatia. The raid was successful and the men became national heroes. The base was renamed Aeroporto Pagliano e Gori in their honor.

During World War II, the Italian Air Force and German Luftwaffe flew missions from the base until it was captured by British forces in 1945. The British government maintained control until 1947 when the Italian military resumed operational use of the base.

In 1954, Italy signed a joint-use agreement with the U.S. and the base became a part of NATO. It was officially activated in 1955 by the United States Air Forces in Europe with the activation of the 7207th Air Base Squadron.

In 1992, when U.S. operations ended at Torrejon Air Base, Spain, ended in 1992, the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing, moved to Aviano AB. In 1994, after Hurricane Andrew destroyed Homestead Air Force Base, Fla., the 401st TF was deactivated and replaced by Homestead's 31st Fighter Wing.

The base is located within traveling distance of several historically rich cities, including Venice, Rome.

Aviano AB history and information are culled from historical facts. Courtesy of the 17th Training Wing Public Affairs.