In the mid eighties the USAF decided that their presence in the Pacific area needed a boost. In the first place this was directed at strengthening their presence on the Korean peninsula, but since the 8th FW was already present on the island as well as numerous Korean units themselves, space was relatively limited. Therefore the USAF decided to strengthen their presence in Japan. This country didn’t have the disadvantages of Korea and modern infrastructure was already present. Two units were created under the newly formed 432nd TFW (later redesignated to 35th TFW), being the 13th and 14th TFS. The 13th was reactivated in 1985 receiving block 15 airframes that the 363rd TFW at Shaw AFB was phasing out due to the arrival of newer equipment over there. These airframes were mainly tasked with air defense, with a limited attack duty as well.
Soon the USAF decided on replacing these airframes with newer versions that made more of a multirole capability possible. In the first place factory fresh block 30 airframes were delivered to the unit. The first airframes were received in 1987 with IOC being reached in early 1988. Those block 30 airframes came with a lot of advantages. They had a more powerful engine and the new APG-68 radar. New weapon systems were also installed and a nightly attack capability was added as well.
USAF F-16A block 15 #83-1115
from the 13th TFS is flying over open water somewhere over the Japanese islands. [Photo by Katsuhiko Tokunaga]
Already in 1990 these airframes were again swapped for other ones. The block type stayed the same – being block 30 airframes – but they were of the so-called ‘big inlet’ version. With this modification the full extent of the General Electric F110 engine came into being, giving better overall performance of these jets. The mission of the squadron remained practically the same.
In 1994 the squadron was converted to the block 50 of the viper. In general this added some functionality again. More specifically this also meant that the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) mission was added to the mission profile of the squadron. Over the years new electronics and weapon systems were introduced on these airframes, but their role remained the same for the past 18 years.
USAF F-16C block 50 #91-0357
from the 13th FS sits in a hangar at Misawa AB on May 8th, 2008. Misawa's fleet of Block 50 aircraft were recently upgraded as part of the CCIP
upgrades. [USAF photo by SrA. Robert Barnett]