SC Air Force, Air National Guard F-16s to Iraq

McENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. (AP) - Air Force Air National Guard and their F-16 fighter jets from South Carolina are headed to a four-month deployment in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Les Carroll said eight jet fighters from the 169th Fighter Wing departed about 1 a.m. Friday from McEntire Joint National Guard Base in Eastover.

The pilots and aircraft were supposed to leave last week and join 300 airmen from the unit who arrived earlier. Problems with ash from the volcano in Iceland and scheduling issues delayed the move.

Carroll says the move marks the first time the unit has deployed on a major combat mission since 2003, when its members flew more than 400 combat missions over Iraq.

F-16 squadrons fly missions that support ground operations of the Army, Navy or Marine Corps.

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