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Thu, Feb 02, 2023

Alaskan NG Wing Receives Refreshed F-16s

354th Fighter Wing Replaces 40-Year Old Aircraft with Updated 35-Year Old Aircraft

The 354th Fighter Wing accepted delivery of its first pair of F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Alabama Air National Guard.

A trickle of the aircraft will make their way up to Alaska's Eielson AFB throughout the year, replacing fighters assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron. While the jets are 'new' to the unit up north, they're still fairly aged when stacked against the roster of 5th generation aircraft they face down as aggressors. Each year, Red Flag and Northern Edge frequently pit the F-16s against F-22s and F-35s, nemeses the older block Falcons can struggle to compete against without sufficient modernization.

The outgoing F-16C Falcons are somewhere around 35 years old, with their new replacements right around the same age. The difference, however, lay in their refurbished avionics, courtesy of their Block 30 standardization. Improved, simplified center displays and optical helmet tracking will bolster the 18th Aggressor Squadron's ability to put up a better fight against late-model fighter aircraft from around the country. Their current fleet of aged F-16Cs will be slowly rotated down south to the boneyard as additional Alabaman aircraft migrate north to their new home.

“The Air Force is using a great opportunity to recapitalize investments made by the National Guard and upgrade the capabilities of the current Aggressor fleet,” said Lt. Col. Chad Richards, 354th Operations Group deputy commander. “This is going to provide more capability and realism so that the aircraft and the pilots that are being trained here in the JPARC (Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex) can have a better adversary and they can train to a higher quality threat.”

“The updated aircraft are going to amplify their efforts and produce even more valuable training to all of our partners and allies,” said Richards. “We’re able to offer unparalleled training, both to the United States Air Force, our joint partners, as well as many partner nations across the Pacific. I'm looking forward to seeing what the Aggressors get to do with them and how we make our Air Force stronger.”

FMI: www.eielson.af.mil

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