On March 7th, 1991 the 18th TFS began giving up it's A-10s when the squadron received its first F-16C of the block 40 version. Shortly after the first F-16 was received and still during conversion, the squadron was re-designated the 18th Fighter Squadron dropping the word Tactical. Once conversion was complete the squadron was the only active duty F-16 Close-Air-Support squadron as its primary mission. They did this in conjunction with the 355th FS which also resides at Eielson AFB as an A-10 unit. In what became a big year for the 18th FS, 1991 also saw the move of Cope Thunder to Eielson. In previous years the exercise was held at Clark AFB, Philippines. With the massive eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Clark AFB was forced to close and the Cope Thunder exercise, which had been held there since 1976, had to move as well.
Tragedy struck on February 19th, 1993 when Captain Glen S. Porter and flight surgeon Major Dr. Robert Verdone were killed in their F-16D twenty miles east of Eielson. Three months later, Captain Luis Jordan was killed in an F-16 crash 60 miles east of Eielson AFB.
On August 20th, 1993 the parent wing was re-numbered from the 343rd Wing to the 354th Fighter Wing without changing anything in the structure or mission of the squadron.
Taking advantage of an opportunity for dissimilar combat training the 18th Fighter Squadron deployed in 1997 to Singapore for Commando Sling and then to Malaysia for Cope Taufan. The Cope Taufan was a particularly unique as it allowed the Vipers of the 18th FS to fly against the MiG-29.
2003 was a busy year as it saw the unit go to Anderson AFB in Guam in support of Operation Noble Eagle during March and the squadron also participated in Commando Sling during October.
A KC-135R Stratotanker flies in formation with two F-16C block 40s #90-0718
from the 18th FS on May 29th, 2007. The aircraft are assigned to Eielson AFB flew in formation for the last time due to the deactivation of the 18 FS. [USAF photo by MSgt. Rob Wieland]
During the 2005 BRAC proceedings, it was announced that the 18th FS would be disbanded. However, one of the early changes to a BRAC decision came as the realization of how succesful Red Flag - Alaska actually was. Previously the exercise held in Alaska was Cope Thunder, but will be rebranded as 'Red Flag - Alaska'. Instead of in the past, deploying a detachment of 64th FS (and before this the 414th CTS), the 18th FS would instead convert to an Aggressor Squadron. The block 40s would be sent to Kunsan AB for the 80th FS making the 8th FW an all block 40 wing. The 80th FS block 30s would be sent to the 18th AGRS. Officially the squadron stood down on June 23rd, 2007 to become the 18th Aggressor Squadron on August 24th, 2007. Aircraft were painted in Kunsan but didn't arrive at Eielson AFB till very early 2008. But before the block 30s arrive all the block 40s were sent to the 80th FS the week of January 14th to 18th 2008. Out of the 18th Aggressor Squadron came a unique artic aggressor scheme which uses black, white and grey. About three or four aircraft wear this scheme while the rest wear the standard aggressor schemes.
USAF F-16D block 40 #89-2172
from the 18th FS takes off from Eielson AFB on February 8th, 2007. [USAF photo by SSgt. Joshua Strang]