This squadron was reactivated in 1972 with F-105's. The 457th Fighter Squadron flew F-4D's in 1981 and converted to the F-4E in 1987. Conversion to the F-16 took place in December of 1990 when they received block 25's. The 'TF' tail code stands for 'Texas Falcons'. Carswell AFB was a perfect place to put an F-16 unit as it shares the same airfield as the Lockheed Fort Worth plant that manufactures F-16s. Starting on February 1st, 1992 the squadron changed from the 457th Tactical Fighter Squadron to the 457th Fighter Squadron. During the year of 1993, Carswell AFB closed as an active duty USAF base. Although the 457th Fighter Squadron remained active, the base became known as NAS Fort Worth. In 1994 the squadron celebrated its 50th Anniversary and painted the tail of aircraft #84-1245 with special markings. Each of the three white stripes on the rudder was to honor nine pilots (3 pilots per stripe) killed in the squadrons first few years of operations.
In mid 1996 the 457th FS converted from the block 25 to the block 30 and thus had to convert engine types from the P&W to the GE engine. Although a small mouth F-16 it is more combat capable then the block 25s. At the time of conversion the 457th FS also adopted a TX tail code which is the two letter code for Texas. The 704th FS previously carried the TX tail code but that unit stopped flying the F-16 in 1996.
The 457th FS went to war in 2001 when it deployed for Operation Southern Watch but ended up participating in Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan as a result of the horrific terrorist attacks in the US on September 11th, 2001. In spite of fighting in Afghanistan, the 457th also had to keep up its role for OSW. The 457th FS took the Litening targeting pod and datalink which gave them an edge over many other aircraft that were deployed. These two items made their F-16s perfect for the Close-Air-Support role. The datalink is not the Link16 but a less costly version of that system.
Most missions over Afghanistan were more then ten hours. Weapon of choice was the 500 lb LGB-12. Night Vision Goggles were worn through out the combat mission
Described below is two extraordinary mission flown by the 457th FS into Afghanistan.
USAF F-16C block 25 #84-1245
of the 457th FS with special markings seen here in London, Ontario on June 3rd, 1995. [Photo by Frank Ertl]
We never knew if we were going to drop until we checked in with a FAC. On my first mission, no one in my flight dropped. On my second mission, only my flight lead dropped. We flew against a Quonset hut area south of Kandahar. We showed up and checked in. We were working with a UAV. The UAV controller lased the target and we used our laser tracking capability to find the spot. We described what we saw and the controller confirmed the target. The controller asked if we wanted him to lase the bombs in. We said we would lase our own bombs. He then asked us to coordinate our attack with an incoming B-1. We held and waited for the B-1 to show. We circled back, joined with the B-1, and away we went. We used our NVGs to deconflict with the bomber. We had two separate targets about 700 meters apart. The controller wanted the bombs to hit at the same time. The B-1 dropped a JDAM, and my flight lead dropped a GBU-12. I flew in trail formation and captured both hits through my targeting pod. Just after the drop, the controller driving the UAV came over the radio and said that the Secretary of Defense was watching. Rumsfeld saw the bombs hit the targets in real-time. We walked into the chow hall the next day for breakfast and our video was playing on CNN.
– Capt. David, 457th FS
- Courtesy Code One magazine
I was working as an airborne FAC mission when I ran low on gas. I had several aircraft in the queue waiting to bomb, including a B-52. The tanker tracks were very close to the target area so I saddled up next to the tanker. I was on the boom getting gas and giving targeting coordinates to a B-52 dropping CBU-103s at the same time.
– Maj. Chris, 301st FW
- Courtesy Code One magazine
As far as is known three pilots from the 457th Fighter Squadron have passed the 3000 hours mark. The first completed this milestone on August 10th, 1997 and that pilot was Major Michael Vastano. Lt.Col. John P. Thornton did so in July of 2000 followed by Col. Bill Schauffert in December of 2001. Col. Schauffert's 3000 hour milestone was broken in the skies over Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom mission.
Heading into 2007 the 457th had 18 jets in the squadron. As a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) committee recommendations, nine F-16Cs were transferred from the 149th FS/192nd FW of the Virginia ANG as the 149th FS became the USAFs first ANG associated F-22 Raptor unit at Langley AFB, Virginia. By the end of 2007 the squadron was operating 27 F-16C block 30 airframes. The 457th FS was fortunate as out of the 2005 BRAC decisions came the closure of two more F-16 Air Force Reserve Command squadrons. This left the 93rd FS and the 457th FS as the only F-16 operators in the AFRC out of the eight squadrons that flew the F-16s at one point in the 90s.
USAF F-16C block 30 #85-1412
of the 457th FS is carrying Sidewinders on the tips and an ALQ-184 pod under the center station when its ready to leave for a new mission. [Photo by Mike Kopack]