163rd Fighter Squadron (USAF ANG)


163 FS "Blacksnakes" (USAF ANG)
Version: F-16C/D block 30 (big mouth)
Role:Air Defense, Attack
Tailband: Blue & Gold
Motto: N/A
Badge: N/A
Converted to the A-10C in September of 2010. Possibly back to Vipers again in 2018.

Sideways profile for the 163rd FS in 2006 with unit markings on the tail.

F-16 History

The squadron started receiving their first F-16s in 1991. These were of the block 25 type, replacing the venerable F-4 in the air defense and attack roles. The transition process was quite fast since the first F-16s arrived in October of 1991 and the last F-4 flight was on January 21st, 1992. Most of these airframes came from other regular air force units which were trading in these blocks for more modern types. The squadron, although an ANG unit – which are mostly tasked with air defense of US mainland – was tasked with air defense and a conventional attack mission. This was already the case in the F-4 and even in the F-100 days. In the early days of F-16 operations the emphasis was more on air defense than on the attack role. With the absence of modern targeting pods the deployment of air-to-ground weapons was somewhat hampered since other units had to be called upon to perform the target designation.

In 1997 the name of the squadron was changed from Marksmen to Blacksnakes. This was purely a political initiated change. The word ‘Marksmen’ somehow reflected an aggressive undertone which some found offensive. Although this wasn’t the case at all, the squadron decided to change its name into ‘Blacksnakes’. The tailscheme of the aircraft was changed accordingly.

USAF F-16C block 25 #84-1244 from the 163rd FS is coming in for landing at Fort Wayne IAP in June of 2005 loaded with a LANTIRN pod and a AGM-65 missile. [Photo by Jake Melampy]

In 2005 the squadron introduced a reconnaissance asset with the Theatre Airborne Reconnaissance System (TARS) coming available to the unit. The 163rd FS was one of a few ANG units to fly with this recce pod.

After having flown for 17 years with the block 25 airframes, a number of those came to the end of their operational lifespan. It was therefore decided that the airframes of the 163rd FS were to be replaced with more modern examples. More modern is quite relative since the airframes they received were of the block 30 type. These big mouth models were mainly coming from the 107th FS which was transitioning to the A-10 at the time. The in service time of this type with the Blacksnakes was short-lived as in 2009 – the year the unit honored its predecessor unit – the 358th FG – with an heritage jet – it was decided that the squadron was to join their brothers of the 107th FS as an A-10 unit. The conversion happened in 2010.

A specially painted USAF F-16C block 25 #84-1264 from the 163rd FS pulls away from the boom following an aerial refueling with a Grissom KC-135R Stratotanker on November 13th, 2008. The F-16 is designated as a 'Heritage Bird'. [USAF photo by TSgt. Doug Hays]

Aircraft Markings History

1991 - 1997

The tail consists of a toned down tailband with 'Indiana' markings inside. The 'FW' tailcode is in the center of the tail with the serial number underneath. A rifle with 'Marksmen' title is displayed on the tailbase.

1997 - 2009

The tailband was changed to dark blue with yellow 'Indiana' titles included. The tailcode and serial remained the same, but on top of the tailcode a white flash with a black Cobra snake was added. The title on the tailbase was also changed to 'Blacksnakes'. The name change was more a political move since 'Marksmen' was seemed a little too agressive.

2009 - 2010

A modification in tail code from 'FW' to 'IN' happened, but only a few F-16s ended up wearing this tail flash. They included F-16Cs #85-1504 and #85-1487 and F-16D #85-1573.

Unit History

  • 1942: Activation of the squadron in Richmond, Virginia (as 365 FS)
  • 1942: P-40 'Warhawk' (part of 358 FG)
  • 1943: P-40 'Warhawk' (Baltimore Field, Maryland)
  • 1943: P-40 'Warhawk' (Millville Field, New Jersey)
  • 1943: P-40 'Warhawk' (Camp Springs, Maryland)
  • 1943: P-40 'Warhawk' (Richmond AAB, Virginia)
  • 1943: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (Goxhill [Eng.])
  • 1943: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (Leiston [Eng.])
  • 1944: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (Raydon [Eng.])
  • 1944: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (High Halden [Eng.])
  • 1944: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (Cretteville [Fr.])
  • 1944: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (Pontorson [Fr.])
  • 1944: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (Vitry-en-Artois [Fr.])
  • 1944: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (St. Dizier [Fr.])
  • 1944: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (Mourmelon-le-Grand [Fr.])
  • 1944: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (Toul-Croix De Metz [Fr.])
  • 1945: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (Mannheim [Ger.])
  • 1945: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (Reims [Fr.])
  • 1945: P-47D/N 'Thunderbolt' (La Junta Field, Colorado)
  • 1945: Deactivated
  • 1946: Activation of the squadron in Stout, Indiana (as 163 FS)
  • 1946: P-51D 'Mustang' (part of 122 FG)
  • 1951: P-51D 'Mustang' (part of 122 FIG)
  • 1954: F-80C 'Shooting Star' (part of 122 TFG, Fort Wayne IAP, Indiana)
  • 1956: F-86A 'Sabre'
  • 1958: F-84F 'Thunderstreak'
  • 1962: RF-84F 'Thunderflash'
  • 1964: F-84F 'Thunderstreak'
  • 1971: F-100D/F 'Super Sabre'
  • 1979: F-4C 'Phantom II'
  • 1986: F-4E 'Phantom II'
  • 1991: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon'
  • 1992: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 122 FG)
  • 1995: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 122 FW)
  • 2010: Converted


'Southern Watch'
Ahmed Al Jaber AB, Kuwait (April 30th, 1997 to June 15th, 1997)
Operation Southern Watch was an operation which was responsible for enforcing the United Nations mandated no-fly zone below the 32nd parallel in Iraq. This mission was initiated mainly to cover for attacks of Iraqi forces on the Iraqi Shi’ite Muslims.
'Iraqi Freedom'
Al Udeid AB, Qatar (September of 2004 to November of 2004)
Around 300 members deployed for Air Expeditionary Force 9/10, a regularly scheduled deployment. Mostly tasked with close-air-support in an urban setting.
'Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq (February of 2006 to April of 2006)
Deployed with the TARS pod, something that the squadron just received before departing in the fall of 2005.
'Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq (August 17th, 2007 to January 12th, 2008)
A rainbow deployment which included a large amount of Air National Guard squadrons; the 119th, 120th, 134th, 163rd, 186th and 188th FS. The 163rd FS was the first to deploy and may have actually departed on August 7th, 2007 for Iraq.

F-16 Airframe Inventory


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