The first F-16s under the Peace Delta contract were delivered in November of 1983. Although an initial batch of 6 aircraft (3 A and 3 B models) was delivered immediately, the remainder of the order was finalised in 1985. The main purpose in 1984 was training a number of pilots on the type so it could be made operational.
Esc. 162 was formed as second squadron within Caza 16 at El Libertador AB. Although both squadrons exist on paper, no unit markings were ever used on the aircraft. The F-16s have been pooled between both squadrons from the start, probably making Venezuela the first country to setup a system of pooled fighter resources.
FAV F-16A block 15 #3260
at Puerto Ordaz Airport, Venezuela on May 25th, 2004. [Photo by Iván Peña Nesbit]
In the mid nineties a number of upgrades were performed with help from Israel. The aircraft have been spotted with Raphael Litening pods under the intake adding a day and night-time precision attack capability. A number of Precision Guided Munitions is believed to be delivered by Israel as well, although specific type or numbers aren’t available. With this upgrade process the F-16s were also spotted with the Python IV missile which boosts the aircraft’s air defence capacity.
With the delivery of more modern Su-30 aircraft in recent years a change of tasks has occurred with Esc. 162. The squadron isn’t performing as much air defence missions as in the past and is concentrating more on conventional attack missions. The future of the F-16s within the FAV remains to be seen in light of running out on available service life, unless an upgrade program can be initiated in the near future.
FAV F-16A block 15 #4226
from grupo 16 seen at Anapolis AB in Brazil on August 23rd, 2006 during the international exercise Cruzex. [Photo by Rob Schleiffert]