The 157th TFS was the first ANG squadron to receive F-16s, in fact before some regular air force unit received F-16s. Delivery of the first F-16 was in July of 1983. They were earlier block 1, 5 and 10 airframes that replaced the aging A-7D's. By the mid eighties all these airframes had undergone Pacer Loft modification bringing them up to the same block 10 standard. Although these airframes aren’t adapted to perform in the attack mission and the ANG’s main task is that of national air defense, the 157th FS did practice the conventional attack role with Mk. 82 and Mk. 84 bombs. The quality of the pilots and ammunition/maintenance crew was demonstrated during Gunsmoke '89 held at Nellis AFB from October 1st till October 14th. The 157th TFS took first place out of 15 other teams.
During the build up for war during Operation Desert Shield, the squadron deployed to Saudi Arabia just a year and a half after taking first place at Gunsmoke '89. They flew a total of 1,729 sorties in Desert Storm from their base at Al Kharj. A total mission rate of over 90% was achieved, which was quite a remarkable fact seen the non-adapted airframes they flew with.
USAF F-16A block 10 #79-0299
from the 157th TFS is parked on the tarmac at McEntire ANGB. The airframe was transferred to Israel
in 1994. [Michel Klaver
A new era started in 1995 when the 157th FS became the recipient of brand-new block 52 F-16s coming straight from the Lockheed facility at Fort Worth. It was the first Air National Guard unit to receive these state-of-the-art airframes. The mission profile of the unit changed in the way that they became a multirole squadron being able to perform all kind of missions. More specifically they also received the HARM Targeting System being able to fly anti-radar sorties with the AGM-88 missile. The main mission profile of the squadron therefore changed to that of Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD). The unit is flying this mission since then.
Most often BRAC changes are not that positive for flying units. BRAC 2005 however left the 157th FS in good shape. Starting on November 2nd, 2006 the unit received five F-16C block 52s from the 389th FS. A further five F-16C were transferred from the 389th FS to the squadron on March 29th, 2007 bumping up the squadrons F-16 count by ten. This way the squadron was strengthened to perform its mission in a more profound manner.
Starting in October of 2010 the 157th FS began an Air Sovereignty Alert mission at nearby Shaw AFB. The squadron has gradually taken over the duties of the 20th FW. On May 6th , 2011 the squadron completely took over the roll when a new alert facility was built at McEntire Joint National Guard base.
Although not confirmed it has been talked about that the 157th Fighter Squadron will likely get the F-35 quicker than most units due to it's history of getting the latest equipment.
USAF F-16C block 52 #93-0531
from the 157th FS spotted flying over the coast of South Carolina on August 3rd, 2000. [USAF photo by MSgt. Thomas Menequin]