The first squadron of the 86th TFW to receive the brand-new F-16 fighters was the 512th TFS. Delivery of block 25 airframes already started in late 1985, but progress was very slow. In 1986 the decision was taken to re-equip the squadron with block 30 airframes. They started to arrive in early 1987 and the full complement was delivered before year-end. All the block 25 airframes were transferred to the 50th TFS at Hahn AFB to speed up re-equipment there as well.
The squadron’s role was conventional air-to-ground by day and night. Secondly the squadron continued the nuclear strike role it had inherited since the F-4 era. Ramstein AB would eventually be the largest concentration of US nuclear devices on mainland Europe and remains this way up till today (2011).
After the end of the Cold War the USAF had a major overcapacity of fighter units in Europe. The squadron avoided the axe and stayed for a short while. Rhein-Main AB was slated for closure and its airlift capacity needed to be preserved. Therefore it was to be moved to Ramstein AB and the units there needed to move.
Even when the squadron was slated for disbandment, they started receiving brand-new block 40 airframes capable of using the LANTIRN system. In the end only a few of those airframes ended up with the squadron before it was disbanded on October 1st, 1994. The squadron’s personnel was moved to Aviano AB in Italy to form the 510th FS under the control of a newly formed 31st FW.
USAF F-16C block 25 #84-1302
from the 512th TFS is seen here landing at it's homebase Ramstein AB. [Photo by Ed Groenendijk]