The 161st FS was the first F-16 squadron within the Korean Air Force. They started receiving their block 32 airframes in 1986 after deliveries of the Peace Bridge I contract had begun. At this time the squadron was part of the 11th FW based at Daegu AB. In 1992 the squadron moved to Chungju AB to become a part of the newly formed 19th FW.
The squadron is mainly tasked with air defence. It therefore deploys both AIM-9 and AIM-120 missiles. Since they lack the more advanced equipment of the later block 52 airframes, they don’t have a secondary air-to-ground mission. However, the squadron does have a secondary training task to perform. Pilots who are to fly on the F-16 have to pass this squadron either for a full OCU course, or for a limited conversion course if they already have a certain amount of flying hours on other fighter types. With the creation of a dedicated training squadron in 1998 – the 191st TDTS – this task was moved to that unit.
What the future brings for these older block 32 airframes is yet unknown. The latest rumours are that with the phasing out of the RF-4C reconnaissance airframes and the introduction of more advanced types to take over the air defence mission, these F-16s could be converted into reconnaissance platforms. However, a decision about this hasn’t been taken as of today.
RoKAF F-16C block 32 #87-659
from the 19th FW is banking to the left with it's brakes opened right before getting onto finals. [RoKAF photo]