September 26, 2017 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The last six operational F-16s lifted off from the runway at Hill AFB on Sept. 21 on their way to Holloman AFB, New Mexico, where they will continue flying. The F-16s are leaving to make room for F-35A Lightning II fighter jets.
F-16 #87-0354 takes off from Hill AFB, Utah, Sept. 21, 2017. The jet is adorned with a ceremonial tail design commemorating 38 years of operational F-16s at Hill AFB. This jet and five others were the last operational F-16s to depart the base. [USAF photo by R. Nial Bradshaw]
The 388th Fighter Wing received its first F-16A in early January 1979 — becoming the first fully operational F-16 Fighter Wing in the Air Force. In March of 1981, the wing took the jet overseas for the first time on a mission to Norway
. In 1983, the 419th received its first jet, becoming the Air Force’s first F-16 reserve wing.
Hill F-16s flew in Operation Desert Storm, as well recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq
, and performed several other missions during the past 38 years. In 2001, the 419th was the the first F-16 unit to conduct air strikes in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks and in 2003, the first to fly combat missions into Iraq.
The final Hill F-16 combat deployment was two years ago, when the 421st Expeditionary Fighter Squadron went to Afghanistan to support follow-up to the U.S.’s post 9/11 combat work in Afghanistan.
The F-16 with tail number 354
was adorned with a ceremonial tail design commemorating 38 years of operational F-16s at Hill AFB
While operational F-16s will no longer fly from the base, the airframe will remain part of Hill AFB’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex depot maintenance workload for years to come.
Hill AFB will be home to three operational fighter squadrons with 78 F-35As by the close of 2019.