The 170th Tactical Fighter Squadron saw their first F-16s on June 7th, 1989 when two landed at Capital Airport to replace the aging F-4D Phantom II. By May 5th, 1990 the 170th TFS was operational with the Viper. Its mission at the time was fighter attack and was provided the block 15 for this job. On March 15th, 1992 the squadron changed designation fromthe 170th Tactical Fighter Squadron to the 170th Fighter Squadron.
During early 1994 the 170th FS started to exchange their block 15's for block 30's with the big inlet design. This also meant an engine change from P&W to the GE engines. Most of the block 15's were retired straight to AMARC.
In 1997 the 170th FS painted the tail of F-16C #86-0371 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the USAF.
The 170th FS increased its capability by obtaining LITENING targeting pods in October of 2001. Training with the new pod started immediately and included some internal personel as some were trained on use of the pod as well as training from the Wisconsin ANG. Purpose of the training was to get ready for deployment in March of 2002 for Operation Enduring Freedom. Starting in January of 2002 the 170th FS deployed for two weeks to Tuscon, Arizona for final training with the LITENING pod. Initally the deployement in March of 2002 was to be with two other ANG units but this changed due to Operation Noble Eagle commitments. As a result the 170th FS deployed by itself as the 170th EFS. When the 170th EFS arrived it replaced the 18th EFS which is normally based in Alaska. On top of duties over Afghanistan, the 170th FS also had to preform air interdiction missions over Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch.
USAF F-16C block 30 #87-0265
of the 170th FS has its ladder already attached while resting under a 'fluffy' sky. [Photo by Mike Kopack]
In the very early morning on April 17th, 2002 while on deployment in Afghanistan a pilot in a two-ship formation from the 170th FS mistakenly bombed a Canadian outfit which was practicing live firing of its weapons. Four soldiers were killed and eight were injured. This tragidy has dogged the 170th FS for years and a trial against the pilots back home dragged.
After more then two consecutive years with deploying overseas the 170th FS participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom when they deployed to the region in October of 2004.
In early June of 2008 the last attempt by Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich to save the 170th FS and its parent wing failed. It was highly unlikely as many F-16s had already departed and the US District Judge, Richard Mills stated that there was not enough evidence to support that the region would suffer major harm by the closure of the unit.
After nearly 20 years of Viper operations with the 170th FS the unit was disbanded in late 2008 with the last F-16 leaving on September 23rd.
USAF F-16C block 30 #87-0320
from the 170th FS is flaring for landing at Lakenheath AB on June 16th, 2005. [Airsceneuk
photo by Matthew Clements]