June 7, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - F-16 block 30s belonging to the 186th FS, Montana ANG are making there final flights after serving the state for more than 20 years as they are being replaced by the F-15 Eagle.
Tail detail of USAF F-16C block 30 #86-0321 with markings of the 120th FW. [Photo by Jake Melampy
The remaining few block 30
F-16s are still flying for now, but will be sent to there new home with the Vermont Air National Guard.
The phase out began when the fighter wing returned from its tour of duty in Iraq. Great Falls MAP currently has 2 F-16s at the base, while five others remain in Iraq.
Maj. Rick Anderson: "It's a big part of what we do up here, and for a lot of these pilots its the only aircraft they've flown. They are going to miss this aircraft."
As part of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC
) the Montana Air Guard (MANG) will receive 18 jets from the Missouri Air Guard. The first F-15s will arrive on August 15th and the transition should be completed by August 22nd.
Original plans from the Pentagon before the BRAC reversal was for the unit to lose its flying mission all together. The conversion to the Eagle will allow the MANG to continue to fly till 2025.