“Pair O Dice”
In 1991 the 90th TFS moved from Clark AB arriving at Elmendorf AFB on May 31st . Upon arrival the unit gained a new aircraft, the F-15E Strike Eagle. This two-seat dual role updated version of the F-15A/B/C/D Eagle had more survivability enhancements than any other fighter aircraft at the time. It carried a wide array of armament as it performed both air-to-air and air-to-surface attack missions. Since arriving in Alaska, the 90th Fighter Squadron participated in numerous training exercises in the lower 48 states and other areas of the world.
These training exercises included Polar Thrust, Cope Thunder, Tandem Thrust, Cope Thaw and Red Flag in locations such as Mountain Home AFB, ID, Osan AB, Korea, Andersen AFB, Guam, Naval Air Station Fallon, NV, and Nellis AFB, NV. During these deployments, pilots from the 90th worked hard to prepare for real-world deployments. The squadron also developed a reputation for safety in its training. On Feb. 20, 1996, the squadron received the Alaska Governor’s Safety Award conferred through the Alaska Department of Labor. This was the first time a military organization won the state award since its inception in 1980. This was a testament to the hard work and professionalism of the unit. In addition to exercises, the 90th Fighter Squadron also undertook real-world deployments during the 1990s and early 2000s. From October 1995 until January 1996, the squadron deployed 8 F-15Es and 193 personnel to Aviano AB, Italy in support of Operation DENY FLIGHT JOINT ENDEAVOR. In February 1998, the squadron deployed 18 F-15Es and over 200 personnel to Kwangju Air Base and Taegu Air Base, both in Korea. While there, the unit flew 1200 joint combat training sorties. Personnel and aircraft redeployed in June 1998.
In 2001 the 90th began a series of deployments which took members of the squadron to the Middle East and Southwest Asia. In March of that year, the 90th participated in a 90-day AEF deployment in support of Operation NORTHERN WATCH, patrolling the northern No-fly zone in Iraq. The squadron sent 154 personnel and 10 F-15Es to Icirlik AB, Turkey and returned to Elmendorf AFB on 9 June 2001. Later that year, in October, 18 F-15Es were deployed to Kwangju AB, Korea, in support of Afghanistan operations. While deployed pilots flew practice strike missions and provided long-range interdiction strike capability in the region during the absence of the USS Kitty Hawk, they also flew missions over South Korea and repaired base infrastructure while there. The squadron redeployed from the 20-23 of December.
The 90th Fighter Squadron participated in an historic event on Sept. 4, 2002. Two Australian exchange officers, Flight Lieutenant Paul Simmons and Flight Lieutenant Tony Southwood, paired up to fly one of the 90th’s F-15Es. This was the first time Australian pilots flew an American aircraft in the Pacific Theatre.
In 2003 the squadron undertook another deployment in the Pacific in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The 90th sent 18 F-15Es to bases in the Pacific, including Osan AB, Kunsan AB, (both in Korea), Kadena AB, Japan and Andersen AFB, Guam. The deployment included 592 personnel from mid-February until mid-May.
Kwangju AB, Korea, once again became home to members of the 90th Fighter Squadron in 2004. In August the squadron deployed 12 F-15Es in an AEF rotation. The unit was temporarily designated the 90th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron and assigned to the 3rd Air Expeditionary Group. While deployed the unit flew more than 1100 sorties over the Korean Peninsula and provided two important flights to distinguished visitors, Republic of Korea Air Force Brigadier General Ko and Republic of Korea General Kim, Commander Korean Ground Forces.
In 2005, the squadron focused on training and preparation for their next real-world deployment. Amidst the training and exercises, however, the squadron was able to showcase their talent with participation in the Aero India Airshow and with a flyby at the USAF Academy before the Air Force versus Army football game. Additionally, the F-15Es completed an upgrade of their weapons systems. This upgrade allowed the aircraft to carry and use more advanced weaponry, including the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) and eventually the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB).
As 2006 progressed, the 90th Fighter Squadron began to prepare for significant changes in its mission and weapons system. The F-15Es were scheduled to relocate to Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, through the BRAC decisions in 2005. Replacing those F-15Es, the 90th began receiving the advanced F-22A Raptor in August 2007, which would greatly enhance the 90th Fighter Squadron’s ability to perform its duties