Military Aviation

Holloman receives Luke F-16 heritage jets with custom paint schemes as part of 49th Wing and 309th Fighter Squadron Fighting Falcon “block swap”

Holloman receives Luke F-16 heritage jets with custom paint schemes

The 309th Fighter Squadron initiated an F-16 Fighting Falcon “block swap” with the 49th Wing at Holloman Air Force Base (AFB), New Mexico, on Jul. 10, 2023, at Luke AFB, Arizona.

According to the article 309th FS begins F-16 block swap with Holloman by Senior Airman Dominic Tyler, 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs, totaling 935 aircraft, the F-16 fleet compromises 50% of the US Air Force fighter inventory. A “block swap” entails an exchange of aircraft that with differences in upgrades and capabilities.

Crew chiefs assigned to the 309th Fighter Squadron prepare an F-16 Fighting Falcon for takeoff, Jul. 10, 2023, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. This aircraft is a part of an F-16 block swap between the 309th FS and the 49th Wing at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. This paint scheme matches that of the World War II era 310th Fighter Squadron’s “Passionate Patsy” Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.

“The F-16 has been the primary fighter aircraft of the US Air Force for more than 20 years,” said Brig. Gen. Jason M. Rueschhoff, 56th Fighter Wing commander. “But as the Air Force strives for innovation and next-generation technologies, Luke aims to be fully transitioned to the F-35 in the next few years.”

In exchange for the Block 42 aircraft, the 309th FS will be receiving Block 40 aircraft from Holloman AFB. As of today, Holloman AFB has received 18 Block 42 F-16s, with three being Luke heritage jets with custom paint schemes.

Luke heritage jets

The unique paint schemes honor significant events from the squadron’s history. The 309th FS has been an active squadron at Luke AFB since April 1, 1994.

Five F-16 Fighting Falcons assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing prepare for takeoff at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona on Jul. 10, 2023. These aircraft are part of an F-16 block swap between the 309th FS and the 49th Wing at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Luke is the largest fighter pilot training base in the US.Air Force and is dedicated to training the world’s greatest fighter pilots for the US and their allied partners.

“Our heritage jets have the same purpose as every other jet; to be flown for training,” said Maj. Saul Sharafinski, 309th FS F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. “This block swap allows flexibility and standardization of the 49th Wing’s training jets.”

The 49th Wing trains F-16 pilots as well as MQ-9 Reaper pilots and sensor operators, providing combat-ready Airmen and Guardians to the US Air Force.

Up to this point, Luke has received 18 Block 40 F-16s. After the last iteration of the F-16 B-course the aircraft will be sent to several bases, the first being, Fort Wayne at Indiana Air National Guard Base, Indiana.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon taxis before takeoff, Jul. 10, 2023, at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. This aircraft painted in a desert brown color scheme known as the ‘MiG Killer’, is part of an F-16 block swap between the 309th FS and the 49th Wing at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

This is part of the Air Force’s larger initiative of accelerating change and investing in the development of its fighter force structure by transforming and modernizing efforts to ensure air and space superiority.

The F-16CG/DG Block 40/42

Unofficially designated F-16CG/DG the Block 40/42 was also known as the “Night Falcon” because of its enhanced night/all-weather capabilities.

In terms of the technical differences between the Block 40 and Block 42 F-16s, the engines are a significant factor. The configured engine bay of the Block 40/42 has options for either the General Electric F110-GE-100 (Block 40) or the Pratt & Whitney F100-PW-220 (Block 42), although the two engines are not routinely interchangeable. The Block 40 F-16 has a larger air intake than that of the Block 42 because of the greater airflow requirements of the F110 engine.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-16D Fighting Falcon 56th FW, 310th FS, LF/90-0778 / 2018

According to F-16.net, production of the block 40/42 totals 615 airframes. Manufacturing started in 1989 as a successor of the block 30/32 airframe. It ended in the late nineties with a follow-on order from Egypt. Block 40 aircraft were delivered to the USAF, Turkey, Bahrain, Israel and Egypt. Block 42 aircraft were only delivered to the USAF.

Photo credit: Senior Airman Dominic Tyler / U.S. Air Force

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.

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