Starting in 1981 the 80th TFS started to receive Vipers to replace the F-4D Phantoms. Factory fresh F-16A/B block 15s were delivered over that year. The USAF always saw that the Korean based units received the newest technology first. Korea at that time was at least as important as the European theatre. The squadron was tasked with air defense as well as both conventional attack as nuclear strike. In late 1987 the squadron again received band-new F-16s, this time C and D models of the block 30 version. They had the so-called ‘big inlet’ from the start gaining the full extent of the General Electric F110 engine. The squadrons’ F-16A/B block 15s were sent to Shaw & Moody AFB. The mission of the squadron remained practically the same.
In its history the squadron has flown the exact same models of aircraft as its sister squadron, the 35th FS. However, the 80th would remain in the block 30 while the 35th FS converted to the block 40 in 2000. This did give the 8th FW more flexibility by offering two distinctive capabilities that the different blocks offered. This ultimately changed in January of 2008 when the 80th FS gave up its block 30s to the newly formed 18th AS and received their block 40s from when the squadron was a normal fighter squadron. So as of 2008 the 8th FW flew both the block 40 versions.
USAF F-16C block 40 #89-2054
from the 80th FS banks away from a KC-135 Stratotanker out of Fairchild AFB during Red Flag-Alaska on April 27th, 2010. [USAF photo by Capt. Shannon Collins]
Ushering in a new era for F-16 operations with the unit was the conversion to block 40 airframes. In 2008 the squadron received block 40s. This meant the squadron’s task changed somewhat as advanced targeting both during the day and night became possible. By that time the squadron had already given up its strike task, which was abandoned back in 1991.