Military Aviation

18th Aggressor Squadron to become more effective training asset thanks to the F-16 jets coming from Alabama ANG

The F-16Cs coming from the Alabama ANG are Block 30 Vipers thus being upgrade from the older F-16Cs the squadron has today.

Given that the first F-35 stealth fighters will be delivered to Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing this year, the unit’s F-16C aircraft are being transferred to Eielson Air Force Base (AFB), Alaska.

Actually, Eielson AFB received the first two F-16s (still wearing their “Alabama” tail flashes) on Jan. 12. The aircraft will sport a new “wraith” black paint scheme as adversary aircraft with the 18th Aggressor Squadron within months.

Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Albert Roper told Air & Space Forces Magazine the two Vipers are the first of 19 “new-ish” aircraft the squadron will get this year.

A US Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon from Dannelly Field, Air National Guard Base, taxis into a hangar at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Jan. 12, 2023. The replacement F-16 aircraft offers enhanced capabilities to replicate more advanced threats and provide more realistic training to pilots. 

“They’re fully combat-capable, combat-mission-ready aircraft,” Roper said in a phone interview. “So we’ll just bring them up here to Alaska. … they’ll go to the paint barn, we’ll do a new paint job on them. But we flew up here last week, so they’re flyable aircraft. […] We’ll start flying and put them on the line and put them up in the air and flying those aircraft as soon as the next couple of weeks.”

According to Roper the F-16Cs coming from the Alabama ANG are Block 30 Vipers thus being upgrade from the older F-16Cs the squadron has today.

“There’s about a decade gap in the software upgrade and hardware upgrades,” Roper said. “So I look at it as the airframe and the engine, it’s still a Block 30 F-16. But [they] kind of ripped out things like the coaxial cables, speed transmitters, and the processors and replaced it with kind of like ethernet and then increased the processing capability of the computers.”

Roper explained that other upgrades are: Improved center display units provide greater clarity for pilots and the avionics suite supports the Hybrid Optical-based Inertial Tracker (HObIT), which attaches to a pilot’s helmet and provides targeting data and more. That means the 18th Aggressors can be more effective training assets, “to increase what we’re able to replicate and present to the combat Air Force,” Roper said.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-16C Fighting Falcon 57th WG, 64th AGRS, WA/86-0280 / 2012

That means replicating more advanced threats in everyday training and at biggest training exercises every year, including Northern Edge and Red Flag-Alaska events.

Noteworthy most Viper Drivers agree the F-16 “big mouth” Block 30 has the best BFM performance. The “big mouth” refers to the larger intake that allows the GE engine to gulp more air, thus giving more thrust. Lieutenant Colonel Philippe “Rico” Malebranche in fact told to John M. Dibbs and Lt. Col. Robert “Cricket” Renner for their book Viper Force 56th Fighter Wing-To Fly and Fight the F-16, the Block 30 is the “best BFM’ing Viper… because it didn’t have all the avionics, so its nose is lighter and I can get it tracking across the horizon easily.”

The remaining ANG F-16s will arrive before Sep. 30. In the meantime (except for two twin-seat F-16Ds that will be retained for orientation flights) all of the 18th Aggressor Squadron’s legacy F-16s will head to the Boneyard at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ricardo Sandoval

This model is available from AirModels – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS.
Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Recent Posts

US Navy Flight Instructor explains why cross training an experienced Ukrainian fighter pilot on the F-16 could likely take longer than anticipated

Ukrainian Air Force F-16 fighter jet American-made F-16 fighters will arrive in Ukraine this summer: in… Read More

6 hours ago

B-58 navigator recalls doing more bomb runs than anyone in the Hustler on one mission, being on nuclear alert during Cuban Missile Crisis

The B-58 Hustler The US Air Force’s first operational supersonic bomber, the B-58 made its initial flight… Read More

6 hours ago

The ringmaster’s Grand Finale: Legendary German Ace Adolf Galland recalls his last combat mission

Legendary German Ace Adolf Galland By far the best-known of Germany’s World War II fighter… Read More

1 day ago

Impressive video shows 509th Bomb Wing and 131st Bomb Wing performing mass fly-off of 12 B-2 Spirit bombers

Mass fly-off of 12 B-2 stealth bombers Filmed on Apr. 15, 2024 15 at Whiteman… Read More

1 day ago

Alligator blocks USAF KC-135 Stratotanker, fights with FWC Officers at MacDill AFB

Alligator blocks KC-135 Stratotanker Taken on Apr. 22, 2024 the curious photos in this post… Read More

2 days ago