F-16 Fighting Falcon News

148th Fighter Wing to get newer F-16Cs

November 13, 2008 (by Joachim Jacob) - The Pentagon says the 148th Fighter Wing, the Minnesota Air National Guard at Duluth IAP and their 179th Fighter Squadron "Bulldogs" will keep flying for at least another 10 years.

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USAF F-16C block 25 #83-1155 from the 148th FS sporting the newly applied Wing bird markings at Duluth, Minnesota on August 4th, 2007. [USAF photo by SrA. Donald Acton]

As the Duluth News Tribune reported yesterday, the 148th Fighter Wing will replace its older block 25 F-16Cs with newer block 40 F-16Cs in 2013 and they will remain in service until 2018, according to a letter on Monday from Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England to U.S. Senator Norm Coleman. The Block 40s previously were set to be phased out in 2015.

In a September 30th letter to England, Coleman requested block 50 F-16Cs at the earliest possible date and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters for the long term.

England said the U.S. Air Force is also processing alternatives to keep the 148th Fighter Wing flying F-16Cs until 2020.

The 148th Fighter Wing is currently one of 40 bases across the United States as potential destinations for the F-35 program. Receiving the F-35s would ensure that the 148th Fighter Wing, which employs more than 1,000 people, exists beyond 2040.

England replied that no decisions have been made on F-35 destinations.

Some of the unit's aircraft are currently deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.