In order to keep up with qualifying enough pilots to match the production of F-16s coming out of Fort Worth, new training squadrons needed to be formed. In the mid 1980s there was a real rush at Luke AFB to get these new squadrons operational. To add to the confusion, the latest F-16s were of the new C/D models which required a different training sylabus. In late 1984 the 312th TFTS was formed mostly with F-16C/D block 25s that were coming off the assembly line. On December 7th, 1984 the first aircraft was received, #83-1121, carrying special markings on the fuselage stating it was F-16C No 1. Truthfully the first F-16C was the first production model F-16C #83-1118 which was also received by the 312th TFTS and was also marked with F-16C No1. The squadrons' first commander, Lt. Col. Steve Plummer, and the 314th Operations Officer went for training at the Fort Worth plant from the General Dynamics pilots. When they returned an F-16A to F-16C model conversion syllabus was written. The 312th TFTS was the first unit to receive operational F-16Cs in the form of block 25s.
A majority of the squadrons pilots had just returned from Kunsan which resulted in a tight knit group with close to a dozen former 35th TFS and a few 80th TFS guys.
First couple of years were spent flying the CX course. This consisted of six or more flights teaching A model Viper pilots the C model differences which also included using the F-16D version.
First production model of the F-16D #83-1174
of the 312th TFTS at Luke AFB, Arizona. After many years with other squadrons, it returned to Luke AFB, but now with the 62nd FS
. [Photo by Mike Kopack]
In the late 1980s the 312th TFTS began instructing FMS students in CX-I courses. Teaching pilots from countries such as Korea, Egypt and many other nations the CX and then straight into an Instructor course. The following is a quote from a 312th pilot who talked about early training days with the RoKAF and delivery of some of their Vipers:
Not all bad...got to deliver the first two RoKAF F-16Ds to Kunsan with Wolfman Cary. Flew the pond with the two RoKAF guys in the backseat. Not a bad way to travel...Maj. Ko would wake me up for the refuelings. The hop from Hickam to Kunsan was 10.3 hours. Compounded that by having to hang around the EOR after landing for 45 minutes while the ROKs changed the USAF markings to RoKAF so we could taxi in and present the jets to the ROK Chief of Staff. Got presented some RoKAF pilot wings and ate all the snails rolled in peanuts, kimchi, and garlic we could stand.
In late 1989 the squadron began to receive factory fresh F-16C/D block 42s. Unfortunately the 312th TFTS did not last long with the block 42 and disbanded in January of 1991.
USAF F-16C block 25 #84-1255
of the 312th TFTS parked on the flightline. This aircraft was written off on June 27th, 1997. [Photo by Frank Ertl]