June 12, 2007 (by Jon Somerville) - For the final time, the F-16s of the Virginia ANG made their last operational flights bringing to an end a long history of flying aircraft in Richmond, Virginia.
USAF F-16C block 30 #86-0246 from the 149th FS is spotted on the tarmac only a month before being transfered to the 457th FS on February 4th, 2007.
The last sortie was flown on June 9, 2007 at 1315h. Although the last flight with the Viper, the 149th FS/192nd FW will continue as an associate unit.
History of the 149th Fighter Squadron/192nd Fighter Wing flying the F-16 goes back to 1991 when the unit gave up its A-7s for the Viper. It was also notable as this was the first ANG
squadron to operate the F-16C/D. The 149th FS
had an extensive history with the F-16 that lasted over sixteen years.
Including its many deployments over the years the 149th FS also performed some operational testing of both concepts and hardware. In 1995, the 149th FS caught a lot of attention when they tested the operational use of a recce pod on aircraft #85-1572
. A need for fighter equipped recce came as a result of the retirement of the RF-4C.
Also in 1995 the 192nd Fighter Wing was tasked with the duty of engine maintenance for not only the 149th FS but also the 74th FS F-16s that flew out of Pope AFB
, North Carolina. An Air Combat Command concept in which the job of engine overhaul is performed out of one location instead of two (or more).
During the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, the decision was made that the 192nd Fighter Wing would lose their F-16s and become an associate unit with the 1st Fighter Wing. This would mean a move down the road to Langley AFB, Virginia. The 192nd Fighter Wing wasted no time and started planning this move immediately. The transition may have started right away but it was gradual. Currently the 192nd Fighter Wing is well established along side the 1st Fighter Wing and the F-16s have been slowly departing Richmond, Virginia for other units such as the 121st Fighter Squadron.
Over the coming weeks the 149th FS will send its remaining aircraft to other units. Shortly after, on June 10th 2007, F-16C #86-0229
departed Richmond for the 457th FS in Texas. Remaining aircraft include these four F-16s #85-1572
. Once these aircraft are gone the 192nd FW will close out its operations at Richmond, Virginia.