July 26, 2010 (by Capt. Naomi Evangelista) - The F-16 Fighting Falcon has been a part of the USAF for more than 30 years now and has continued to provide support to the nation since then, but while its mission is to provide multi-role support for the United States and allied nations, its mission varies from each of its locations.
USAF F-16C block 40 #89-2023 from the 555th FS gets ready to touch down after a demo display during the 2010 Farnborough International Air Show on July 21st, 2010.
"We are a multi-role aircraft- we fly air-to-air and air-to-ground missions," said Capt. Jon Flickinger, pilot with the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy
. "Lately we have been primarily flying close air support missions in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Capt. Clayton Bailey, also a 55th FS
pilot currently stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy, commented on the variety of missions he's flown during his five years in the Air Force.
"At Aviano where I am now, I work in the weapons office and am the mission planning chief," said Captain Bailey. "I do all the mission planning for TDY's and trips. I have to know where we're going and how we're going to get there."
But the captain hasn't always been a mission planning chief.
"I was last stationed in Korea and it was a lot different there," the Lexington, Kentucky native commented. "At the 555th, we have the NATO
mission and work with all the NATO countries and have a joint, integrated operation. In Korea, while we worked with the Korean air forces, it was a more centralized mission where we're ready to take the fight north if we have to."
"Our overall Air Force mission remains the same but specific missions to support that bigger picture is different- it changes and you have to adapt," he added.
Yet another mission the captain has recently helped out with is the Farnborough International Air Show, which in his words is a special opportunity.
"We've been getting to show off our plane to people from all over the world that have some kind of interest in the F-16 aircraft," he said. "The interaction with the people is unique."
But no matter what type of mission he's supporting, he loves what he does.
"I love flying -- it's the best part of my job, especially when we're supporting the ground folks and a larger mission," he added.
Two F-16C Fighting Falcons from the 555th FS participated at the Farnborough International Air Show July 19 to 25.