161 Filo was the first squadron in Bandirma to receive the new F-16. Like most squadrons within the Turkish Air Force, these are of the block 40 version. The F-16 replaced the F-104G Starfighter, as in most European NATO countries. The mission of the squadron thus was conventional attack as primary role, with a secondary air defence role. This did not change with the introduction of the F-16. It was just replacing an obsolete aircraft with a newer one with more capabilities.
With the block 40 came new capabilities, resulting in the possibility to conduct night-time operations. In the first years of operating the F-16, this was not easy since the Turkish Air Force didn’t order targeting pods together with the aircraft. An order for LANTIRN pods was placed when the first aircraft were leaving the production line. 161 Filo had to wait until 1994 to receive their first pods. This however, marked a dramatic change in missions that could be flown. From 1994 onwards the squadron was fully operational on the type with all mission profiles to be flown.
TuAF F-16C block 40 #90-0019
from 161 Filo is photographed coming into land at Konya AB on October 4th, 2004 during Anatolian Eagle. [161 Filo photo]
Since a number of years, all F-16s squadrons within the Turkish Air Force are multi-role. This means they can handle all missions, but are specialised in one. With the CCIP program – which will start in 2009 – the aircraft will get an upgrade which will prolong their service life and introduce a completely new block 50 cockpit and advanced electronics.