On the first of December 1989 the 111th FIS started receiving block 15 aircraft to replace their F-4Ds. The last F-16 arrived in April of 1990. In 1992, only a few years following the acceptance of their block 15s, they converted to the ADF variant of the block 15. On March 15th, 1992 the 111th FIS was redesignated the 111th FS. Also in 1992 the 111th FS celebrated their 75th anniversary. To commemorate this F-16A ADF #82-1001 was painted in special markings including a big Texas flag panted on the fuselage underside.
During September of 1995, the 111th FS ended it's alert detachment at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. Detachment one started in 1979 in New Orleans with the F-101 Voodoo. In 1985 the detachment was moved to Holloman AFB, New Mexico where it operated the F-4 followed by the F-16.
In late 1996 the 111th started to retire their ADF F-16s to AMARC. To replace these aircraft the squadron received the block 25. Transition started in September of 1996 and was completed by February of 1997. This brought a change in role which officially happened in October of 1998. The role went from air-to-air to an air-to-ground mission. After returning from an Operation Southern Watch mission in 2000, the squadron added Precision Guided Munitions to its arsenal.
On the day of September 11th, 2001 when President Bush boarded Air Force One and flew from Florida to Nebraska, the 111th FS flew air cover for his aircraft. This is notable as President Bush was a 111th FS pilot in the 1970s. Shortly after in December of 2001 the 111th FS deployed to Atlantic City, New Jersey and flew Operation Noble Eagle missions over New York City, Philadelphia and Washington DC, once again guarding the President.
USAF F-16A block 15 #82-0958
from the 111th FS is parked on the flightline at Ellington Field ANGB on January 1st, 1992. [AviaMagazine
photo by Jay Carrell]
During the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, it was recommended that the F-16 block 25s be retired. Texas Governor, Rick Perry, reacted quickly and made sure the unit could remain alive and did so by securing MQ-1 Predator operations. This is an unmanned aircraft and although not exactly what the 111th FS had hoped for, it would keep the unit going well into the future.
Pilots of the 111th FS are very experienced and this was demonstrated when Colonel Jeffrey S. 'CAG' Smiley passed 4,000 hours in the F-16. It was especially noteworthy as it occurred during an Operation Iraqi Freedom combat mission. Colonel Smiley had just passed the 3,000 hour mark only five years earlier. Another milestone was passed during this deployment when F-16C #84-1254 passed 6,000 flight hours earlier on September 4th, 2005, also during an Operation Iraqi Freedom mission.
In October of 2007 the 111th FS painted F-16C #84-1393 (side profile noted above) with special markings to commemorate the squadrons 90 years of history. Markings were chosen to match the color scheme applied to their first aircraft, the JN-4 Jenny which the squadron first flew in 1923. These colors consisted of intense blue and yellow with red, white and blue rudder and flaps. Although these colors are the most eye catching, less noticeable colors and markings were used to represent other eras. World War Two markings were represented with that era's style of stars and bars on the fuselage. The unit emblem that was placed on the tail represents the Korean War years when the squadron flew the F-84. The belly was painted gray to represent the modern aircraft paint schemes.
As was earlier planned in 2005, the 111th FS gave up it's last two F-16s on June 7th, 2008 and F-16 operations drew to a close. The MQ-1 replaced the F-16 and the parent wing was renamed the 147th Reconnaissance Wing that same month.
USAF F-16C block 25 #83-1147
from the 111th FS is landing at NAS
Fort Worth JRB
on November 16th, 2005. [Photo by Frank McCurdy]