All squadrons of the 401st TFW were equipped with the F-16 at merely the same time. Production of the block 15 version was at its peak and the USAF wanted all European tactical units to be converted – mostly from the F-4 – as soon as possible. In early 1983 the new jets started to arrive with both pilots and ground-crew getting acquainted very soon. The bright weather in Spain resulted in a very tight conversion scheme. In 1988 the decision was taken to re-equip the squadron with block 30 airframes. Yet again the learning curve was quite steep with the squadron reaching IOC already later that year.
The squadron’s role was conventional air-to-ground by day and night. Although F-16s of the squadron were seen carrying dummy B-61 bombs from time-to-time, indicating a possible strike role as well. However, the unit was never officially designated for that, nore Torrejon AB ever hosted any tactical nuclear weapons. It could be that the squadron was tasked with a nuclear TDY assignment elsewhere in Europe, but that has never been confirmed.
In 1988 the United States and Spain agreed on a new contract regarding the use of Torrejon AB. In that agreement it was stipulated that all fighter operations on Spanish soil would end by early 1991 and all fighter squadrons were either disbanded or moved elsewhere. This process was halted when the Iraqi crisis emerged during 1990. The squadron didn’t deploy during Desert Storm so was the first of the Torrejon squadrons to be disbanded on June 28th, 1991.
USAF F-16C block 30 #86-0369
of the 613th TFS seen in the static at the Mildenhall Air Fete in 1991. [Photo by Ed Groenendijk]