Royal Australian Air Force use of Ubon
On 31 May 1962 the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) sent a detachment of eight CAC-27 Sabre fighters to Ubon RTAFB. This detachment was later expanded and designated as No. 79 Squadron. The Australian facilities were known as RAAF Ubon.
The mission of No. 79 Squadron was to assist the Thai and Laotian governments in actions against communist insurgents during the early years of the Vietnam War. With the deployment of United States Air Force fighters to Ubon, the unit also performed joint exercises and provided air defense for the USAF attack aircraft and bombers based at Ubon.
Sir Edmund Hillary visited the base on 25 January 1967.
The Squadron lost Sabre A94-986 aircraft due to engine failure at 1043h on 3 January 1968. The aircraft crashed on approach into farms outside the town (1.2 nautical miles from the runway at 249 degrees true). The pilot, Pilot Officer Mark McGrath was killed. A three year old Thai girl named Prataisre Sangdang later died from burns sustained in the accident. The homes of Mr Nuan, Mr Krasam, Mr Thongkam and Mr Tue were totally destroyed. That of Mr Sok was partly destroyed. Ten pigs belonging to Mr Sok were killed as were 15 belonging to Mr Oh. Outbuildings beloning to Mr Wiruch and to Mrs Sim were also damaged.
United States Air Force use of Ubon
From 1965 to 1974, the base was a front-line facility of the United States Air Force (USAF) during the Vietnam War. Ubon was the location for TACAN station Channel 51 and was referenced by that identifier in voice communications during air missions.
The APO for Ubon was APO San Francisco, 96304
8th Tactical Fighter Wing
At Ubon, the 8th TFW's mission included bombardment, ground support, air defense, interdiction, and armed reconnaissance. The operational squadrons of the 8th TFW were:
- 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron 8 December 1965 - 23 July 1974 (F-4C/D Tail Code: FG)
- 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron 8 December 1965 - 16 September 1974 (F-4C/D Tail Code: FP)
- 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron 25 February 1966 - 1 June 1968 (F-4C/D Tail Code: FY)
- Squadron deployed from 33d TFW Eglin AFB Florida. Transferred to 432d TFW at Udorn RTAFB. Replaced by 25th Tactical Fighter Squadron, also from 33d TFW 25 May 1968 - 5 July 1974 (F-4D Tail Code: FA)
On 23 April 1966, the 8th TFW scored its first MiG kills of the Vietnam War, shooting down two MiG-17 fighters. By the end of June 1966, after only six months in the theater, the wing had flown more than 10,000 combat sorties, achieving a 99 per cent sortie rate for which they received many commendations.
Beginning in May 1967, new F-4D aircraft from the 4th TFW at Eglin AFB were delivered to Ubon, re-equipping the 433d, 497th and the 555th TFSs. This gave the wing the distinction of being the first in Southeast Asia to be operationally equipped with F-4Ds.
In May 1968, the wing was the first to use laser-guided bombs (LGBs) in combat. During its final years of combat, the 8th TFW used B-57s for night attacks, AC-130 gunships for ground support and armed reconnaissance, and F-4Ds for fast-forward air control, interdiction, escort, armed reconnaissance, and other special missions.
After North Vietnam invaded the Republic of Vietnam in March 1972, the 8th TFW was augmented by additional F-4 units. To make room for these forces, the B-57 squadron moved to the Philippines. The wing continued combat in Vietnam until mid-January 1973, in Laos until 22 February 1973, and in Cambodia until 15 August 1973.