January 21, 2004 (by Lieven Dewitte) - January 28 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Air Force Reserve Command's formal acceptance of the F-16 into its aircraft inventory. In February 1982, the Air Force announced that the Air Force Reserve would receive F-16s at Hill Air Force Base, Utah in 1984.
This was a major event for the active duty Air Force had just received its first operational F-16 in 1979. For decades, Reservists had flown older aircraft, many no longer in the active duty inventory.
On October 1, 1982, the Air Force Reserve activated the 419th Tactical Fighter Wing (now Fighter Wing) at Hill Air Force Base, in anticipation of a large buildup of F-16s within the command. The new wing replaced the concurrently inactivated 508th Tactical Fighter Group. The conversion of the new wing and its flying unit, the 466th Tactical Fighter Squadron (now fighter squadron) from F-105s to F-16s began in earnest on January 1, 1984. By the end of the month, the 419th Tactical Fighter Wing held a formal ceremony commemorating receipt of the F-16.
The 419th Fighter Wing, located at Hill AFB
, UT, is one of more than 40 flying units in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. The Wing is comprised of approximately 1,500 personnel and 15 F-16 fighter aircraft. Most of the wing?s personnel are Reservists who routinely cover contingency deployments while also supporting daily flying operations stateside.
Since 1984, the 419th Fighter Wing has enjoyed great success with the F-16. The unit recorded impressive results at the Air Force's fighter competition, Gunsmoke, including Top Gun honors. In recent years, the wing has participated in a variety of real-world operations such as Operation Northern Watch, enforcement of the no-fly zone over Iraq and Operation Iraqi Freedom; the multinational effort to liberate the Iraqi people and remove Saddam Hussein from power.