Fighter Jet News

F-16 Fighting Falcon News

Morris ANGB receives initial delivery of Slovak F-16 Blk 70s

July 2, 2024 (by SrA Guadalupe Beltran) - The Morris ANGB is home to the Air National Guard’s premier F-16 fighter pilot training unit, the 162nd Wing, providing training for coalition war-fighting partners for the United States Air Force and international allies, which is why the Department of the Air Force selected Morris ANGB to receive up to nine Slovak-owned F-16 Block 70s. The first Block 70 aircraft arrived on June 13.

Lt. Col. Joseph Markowski, Chief of Stan/Eval assigned to the 162 AW, arrives with the first Slovak-owned F-16 Block 70 at Morris ANGB on June 13, 2024. The Department of the Air Force selected Morris ANGB to receive up to nine Slovak-owned F-16 Block 70s. [ANG photo by SrA Guadalupe Beltran]

"As the Slovakian air force prepares its air bases to receive their newly acquired F-16 Block 70s, it was determined that the most advantageous location to base their first aircraft was Morris ANGB," said Col. Thomas Obrochta, 162nd Operations Group commander. "This will enable the first Slovakian F-16 pilots to train on their aircraft before delivering them to their home nation."

Beyond this initial delivery of Slovak F-16s to Morris ANGB for training, two additional jets will arrive in Slovakia later this summer to begin in-country operations—the First F-16s with Block 70 capabilities to operate in Europe.

The Slovakia Republic Minister of Defense established an intensive commission on selecting the aircraft to replace the obsolete MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters.

"The process of selecting new fighter aircraft began in 2015," said Col. Adolf Ulicny, Slovakia's Foreign Liaison Officer. "The fifth generation F-16 Block 70 aircraft fulfilled all our ideas and the entire spectrum of our tasks."

The F-16 is a compact, multi-role fighter aircraft, and has proven itself in air-to-air combat and air-to-surface attack. The latest version F-16 Block 70 offers unparalleled capabilities.

"The F-16 Block 70 is the latest edition of one of the most combat-proven fighter jets of all time," said Obrochta. "It includes an advanced APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array [AESA] fire control radar, a high-resolution Center Pedestal Display, which provides critical tactical imagery to pilots and allows them to take full advantage of AESA and targeting pod data, advanced weapons integration, and an extended structural life of 12,000 hours-- more than 50 percent beyond that of previous production F-16 aircraft."

The initial cadre of Slovakian F-16 pilots has been training at Morris ANGB for the last two years.

"The cadre of Slovakian F-16 pilots underwent an initial basic course covering air-to-air and air-to-ground tactics," said Lt. Col. Matthew Hodges, squadron commander when Slovakian cadre of pilots started. "After they completed the basic course, they then seasoned and built the hours required for the Flight Lead upgrade and some continuing to season for the instructor pilot upgrade to be able to go back to Slovakia and start their own F-16 operations."

According to Obrochta, the 162nd Wing is committed to providing the highest quality training to international military personnel instilled with sound piloting skills.

"Training with the Block 70 at the 162nd Wing enables Slovakian pilots to gain proficiency in their aircraft while integrating with other U.S. fighter and support aircraft," said Obrochta. "It also provides 162nd instructor pilots critical experience in Block 70 so that they are better prepared to teach future international students."

The Slovakia Air Force modernization acquisition of the F-16 Block 70 aircraft aims to bolster Slovakia's defence capability, capacity and competence, strengthen bilateral defence operations, and increase interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces.

"So far, 11 pilots have been trained for the F-16 Block 70", said Ulicny. "Pilots in the training program at other air bases in the U.S. must all come to the 162nd Wing to retrain for the highest type of aircraft, the F-16 Block 70."

Some Slovak-owned F-16 Block 70s will be temporarily stationed in the United States through fiscal year 2026 at the 162nd Wing, with others beginning operations in Slovakia later this year.

"It has been a pleasure to watch them grow in their tactics, understanding and realization that they are the ones who will be working together to safeguard Slovakia," said Hodges.

Courtesy of 162nd Wing

Additional images:

Members of the 162nd AW gather to inspect the Slovak-owned F-16 Block 70 at Morris ANGB on June 13, 2024. The Slovak-owned F-16s with Block 70 capabilities will be the first to operate in Europe. [ANG photo by SrA Guadalupe Beltran]
Related articles:
Forum discussion: