January 23, 2008 (by A1C Nora Anton) - Four of Eielson's expected 12 aircraft landed safely Jan. 20 on the flightline.
USAF F-16C block 30 #86-0305 from 18 AS with Artic Flanker paint scheme is refueled during its flight from Kunsan AFB to its new home, Eielson AFB on January 20, 2008.
The Aggressor aircraft are from the 80th Fighter Squadron of the 8th Fighter Wing, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea
, and are involved in an F-16 swap with the base, as Eielson gave the 8th FW its F-16 Block 40s in exchange for the Aggressors.
Altogether, Eielson is sending 22 F-16 block 40
models to Kunsan, and Kunsan is sending 21 F-16 block 30
models to Eielson with Aggressor paint schemes, the process taking approximately three weeks.
The jet-swap is part of the Common Configuration Implementation Program, whose intent it is to increase mission capability and combat readiness by utilizing new air frames and avionics.
In preparation for CCIP
, Eielson deactivated the 18th Fighter Squadron and activated the 18th Aggressor Squadron on Aug. 24, 2007, for the new Aggressor-mission. The 18th is one of three Aggressor Squadrons in the Air Force, the other two being at Nellis AFB
"The new 18th AGRS
will be used to train U.S. and allied aircrews in a dynamic, realistic air-to-air environment," said Lt. Col. Daniel Tippett, 354th Operations Support Squadron Commander. "The 18th AGRS mission is to replicate the threat, thereby allowing our forces to focus their training and ultimately improve the combat capability of the combat air forces."
Eielson's new jets will feature an aggressor paint scheme; including a white, black and gray scheme, called the Arctic Flanker, and a dark and light blue and gray scheme, called the Blue Flanker. The paint schemes are integral for training exercises such as RED FLAG-Alaska, as they are used to depict "enemy" aircraft (the 18th AGRS's new role in exercises). This is the first time an arctic scheme has been used.
The purpose of the new paint scheme is to help differentiate between "friendly" aircraft and "enemy" aircraft during those exercises.
"The 18th is a single mission adversary air squadron and will not train for any other mission; the jets themselves will retain the same full-up F-16 capabilities, but the pilots flying them will not be trained nor qualified to do anything other than adversary air."
"We'll be playing the bad guys to help train the rest of the Air Force," said Lt. Col. Patrick Welch, 18th AGRS commander.