September 21, 2008 (by Asif Shamim) - The final F-16 #87-0296 from the 183rd Fighter Wing will depart Springfield, Illinois this Tuesday, one week before the the unit marks its 60th anniversary.
USAF F-16C block 30 #87-0296 from the 170th FS is parked on the tarmac at Springfield IAP on March 20th, 2008 adorned with the USAF 60th anniversary scheme. [USAF photo]
Illinois Air National Guard officials say they will continue to search for new flying missions for the 183rd. In the mean time personnel at the base will concentrate on there new mission as a regional Centralized Intermediate Repair Facility for General Electric engine used in the F-16. The new role has taken affect as of September 15th.
$6 million renovation at the base will be required. This will include construction of maintenance bays in a hangar where the engines can be serviced. Units from as far away as South Dakota and Texas will be shipping jet engines to Springfield by truck to be repaired.
Brig. Gen. John Sheedy, the Air Guard’s assistant adjutant general was quoted to have said “Our adjutant general is committed to seeking a new flying mission for the 183rd. He’s working hard on that, as we all are. We also have to keep in mind that we have to do the missions that we know we have.”
The 183rd history of operation at Springfield dates back to September 30, 1948, when it flew the P-51 Mustang fighters. The unit has flown F-16s since 1989, but lost that role after a review by the Base Realignment and Closure commission in 2005.
The unit had 17 jets, which started leaving Springfield a few at a time this summer to bases elsewhere, including Texas, Vermont and Indiana. Only one of the 183rd’s F-16s remains at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport as of Sunday.