The 17th TFS started receiving the first F-16s in 1981. It was reactivated as an F-16 squadron and based at Shaw AFB. The first aircraft were of the block 10 version, but soon afterwards – in 1982 – the first block 15 airframes started to arrive. The responsibilities of the 17th TFS was close air support, air interdiction, suppression of enemy defenses and armed reconnaissance to support worldwide contingencies. For this SEAD mission the aircraft were equipped with the AGM-45 Shrike missile. This was one of a few units within the USAF that flew with this missile.
In 1985 the squadron shifted block type once more. This time the squadron received brand-new block 25 airframes from the General Dynamics factory in Fort Worth. These aircraft were more capable in comparison with the former block 15 airframes. Also new weapon systems could now be introduced, like the CBU-87 Wind Corrected Munition Dispensers (WCMD).
During 1990 the tensions in the Middle East started rising. Therefore the squadron deployed to Saudi Arabia and started flying air defense missions over the Saudi kingdom. When Operation Desert Storm started in January of 1991 the squadron was at the forefront of air operations operating from Al Dhafra AB in the United Arab Emirates.
Upon their return the squadron started receiving some brand-new block 42 airframes. Their primary mission of air interdiction remained the same. During 1993 the first rumors came that the entire wing was to be disbanded. The news was quickly acknowledged. On December 31st, 1993 the squadron was disbanded in favor of units from the 20th FW. The reason behind the disbandment was to keep the history alive of the 20th FW and its resident squadrons over those of the 363rd FW.
USAF F-16C block 42 #90-0730
from the 17th TFS is parked on the flightline at Birmingham IAP in October of 1991. [Photo by Gary Chambers]