First F-16 delivery to the squadron was on July 1st, 1988 and the formal acceptance of the F-16 happened on October 15th, 1988. On March 15th, 1992 the 184th dropped the Tactical name from the squadron.
In early 2001 the 184th FS began to retire its F-16A/B block 15s to AMARC in exchange for F-16C block 32s. They never received any D-models. Because the squadron flew the rarely seen block 32, the squadron became a source for spare F-16s for the USAF Thunderbirds flight demonstration team. In the end the 184th FS never had to give up any of their aircraft as the Thunderbirds took needed aircraft from home based 57th Fighter Wing.
In early 2005 the 184th FS was preparing to take the TARS pod to Iraq but requested that they be able to carry the TARS pod in conjunction with a targeting pod. This combination had not been certified and the tight deadline that this needed to be completed by forced Air Force Material Command to find a way to get this done quickly. The 40th Test Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida was tasked with the job. As there were three possible configurations, LANTIRN, LITENING and Sniper, it was decided to choose the pod that would be the most troublesome and only test fly that one. Lockheed Martin was consulted and in the end the LANTIRN pod was chosen for the test. The 40th TS was to facilitate the test flight but equipment availability caused the 40th TS to look at the 107th FS who use the TARS pod operationally. Members of the 40th TS traveled to Selfridge to use both aircraft and pods of the 107th FS. A flight test sortie was quickly put together. When the aircraft returned to Selfridge a quick external examination was done on the TARS pod and all appeared okay. Closer inspection showed that the ECS scoop, located immediately in-line to the LANTIRN pod, was damaged and insulation torn. An exact cause of the problem could not be determined and the time limit required for the 184th FS to meet its deployment date. The short-term solution was put forward to keep airspeed below 0.95 Mach in this configuration and warn that scoop failure could still reoccur. A second flight in a 107th FS aircraft was successful under the above mentioned restriction and the certification of the TARS with targeting pod was made. The 184th FS was able to obtain its request for capability in enough time for the deployment.
USAF F-16A #82-0980
of the 184th TFS is waiting with stabs down and canopy open. [Photo by Mike Kopack]
Many units were effected by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure panel and the 184th FS was no exception. Initially it was decided that the squadron would loose all aircraft and shut down. With a great deal of effort by Arkansas' leaders caused the BRAC panel to change its decision on the 184th FS and give it a new mission. The squadron would still loose its F-16s but in their place would get a total of eighteen A-10s. One of the deciding factors was Fort Smiths location near Fort Chaffee, a former National Guard training post. This location is a perfect spot for the A-10 to practice its low-flying air-to-ground mission. On October 18th, 2006 the 184th FS began giving up F-16s when two departed for the 194th FS located in California. By April of 2007 the 184th FS had already begun to receive the A-10 and pilots had already commenced cross training back in October. On April 14th, 2007 the 184th FS marked the day with a celebration 'Viper Out/Warthog In' day. The 184th FS took the opportunity to display their new A-10 paint scheme and to still fly the F-16 but the 184th FS at this point was officially an A-10 unit. The A-10s themselves came from the Massachusetts ANG. The last vipers, #86-0238 and #86-0285 departed on April 28th, 2007.
Although the unit is loosing its F-16s the squadron is very happy to still be in the flying business. The A-10 nicknamed 'Warthog' will fit in well with the 184th FS and even fits the squadrons mascot perfectly.
USAF F-16C block 32 #87-0297
from the 184th FS is shooting some flares during an aerial photo shoot. [Photo by Don Logan]