February 26, 2010 (by Asif Shamim) - The 175th FS, South Dakota ANG are getting 18 replacement F-16Cs (big mouths) arriving from Hill Air Force Base in Salt Lake City, later this year.
Capt. Matt 'Eddie' Fritz flies F-16C block 30 #85-1446 from the 175th FS out of Sioux Falls IAP over the Gulf of Mexico while deployed to Tyndall AFB in support of Combat Archer, an air-to-air Weapons System Evaluation Program on June 9th, 2003.
"This gives us a tremendous step in defining the future of the fighter aircraft mission at Joe Foss field," says Lt. Col Reid Christopherson, executive officer of the SDANG 114th Fighter Wing.
"This is good news for the South Dakota Air National Guard in terms of helping to bridge the gap between the planned 2017 retirement date for the current fighters at Joe Foss and the date the Joint Strike Fighter might be available to replace these jets," said Sen. John Thune, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s AirLand Subcommittee, which has oversight authority for tactical aviation programs such as the F-16.
"Since the South Dakota Air National Guard first brought this issue to my attention several years ago, I have continued to raise the issue with Air Force leadership in my capacity as a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and have been working with the Air Force and the National Guard Bureau in seeking to resolve it. This decision confirms the important role that the South Dakota Air National Guard plays in our nation’s security, and should secure the 114th Fighter Wing’s F-16 mission into the next decade."
Officials are still in the progress of planning the swap out which will take place over a course of about six months according to Col. Christopherson.
The current 175 FS
F-16C/Ds (small mouth) will go Arizona and be stored as part of the AFRES program, where the planes could be mothballed, used for parts, upgraded and sent to other fighter units or sold to foreign military.These jets were built back in the mid 1980s.
The replacements from Hill Air Force Base were built a few years later, according to Christopherson, and they have larger intakes and can generate more thrust than the jets they will be replacing.
"Beyond that, there are some small things here and there. We will largely continue to fly the aircraft in the same mission profiles as we have been, as a dual role fighter with air-to-air and air-to-ground capability," Christopherson says.