F-16 Reference

480th Fighter Squadron ( USAFE)

" Warhawks"  

F-16 Units main menu | United States Air Forces in Europe units overview
480 FS " Warhawks" ( USAFE)
Version: F-16C/D block 50
Role: Multirole, SEAD, Strike
Tailband: Red
Motto: First in...last out.
Badge: N/A

Sideview profile for the 480th FS in 2011 with unit markings on the tail.

F-16 History

The history of the F-16 within the 480th FS was quite unique. The squadron was a dedicated Wild Weasel unit flying the venerable F-4E and G versions of the Phantom. They were used in the so-called ‘hunter/killer’ role with the F-4G hunting SAM sites and the F-4E killing them with the AGM-45 Shrike and later AGM-88 Harm missiles. In the late 1980’s the F-4E was in urgent need for replacement. In early 1987 the first small mouth block 30 airframes started to arrive. Although the introduction of the F-16 meant a serious upgrade compared to the old F-4E, this version of the F-16 still wasn’t able to take the SEAD role completely on its own, still relying on the eliminating skills of the F-4G. The incorporation of the SEAD task was only reached with the introduction of the block 50 in 1990.

USAF F-16C block 30 #87-0270 from the 480th TFS is parked on the flightline at Spangdahlem AFB in June of 1991. [Photo by Gary Chambers]

At the end of Operation Desert Storm in 1991 all the F-4G airframes were transferred to the 81st FS with the 480th becoming an all F-16 unit. The SEAD task was also removed from the official duty list at that time with just the air defense mission remaining. With the dwindling down of USAF squadrons after the end of the Cold War, Hahn AFB was closed and its units disbanded. The nuclear strike role therefore needed a new host. The 480th was selected to carry on this task. In 1993 the first brand-new block 50 airframes started to arrive with the squadron once again taking the SEAD task on the record. This wasn’t for long however. Since Spangdahlem AB already hosted the 23rd FS, it was decided that the heritage of the 22nd FS was more worth saving and was more in sequence with the 23rd FS then the 480th. The squadron was disbanded on April 1st, 1994 with the 22nd FS carrying its heraldry.

Due to a further consolidation of fighter units in Europe, the Staff decided to reduce the number of Spangdahlem AB based F-16 fighters to just one unit. Both the 22nd as the 23rd FS were disbanded on August 13th, 2010 with the 480th FS being resurrected in the same move and taking up the same tasks as it had 16 years earlier. The squadron equipped with the block 50 version of the F-16 that the 22nd and 23rd Fighter Squadron had operated.

USAF F-16C block 50 #91-0407 from the 480th FS call sign 'Scald 01' departs from Prestwick Airport heading to RAF Mildenhall on January 12th, 2011. [Photo by Michael Clarke]

Aircraft Markings History

1987 - 1990

On top of the tail was a red tailband. In the center the tailcode 'SP' (from Spangdahlem) with the serial underneath and the 52nd TFW logo above in gray subdued colors.

1990 - 1994

The overall lay-out remained the same, but the subdued 52nd TFW logo was removed from the tail.

2010 - present

On top of the tail was a red tailband. In the center the tailcode 'SP' (from Spangdahlem) with the serial underneath and the 52nd TFW logo above in gray subdued colors was re-introduced.

Unit History

  • 1942: Activation of the squadron in McDill, Florida
  • 1942: B-26 'Marauder' (part of 336 BG)
  • 1942: B-26 'Marauder' (Fort Meyers AAF, Florida)
  • 1942: B-26 'Marauder' (Avon Park, Florida)
  • 1943: B-26 'Marauder' (McDill Field, Florida)
  • 1943: B-26 'Marauder' (Lake Charles AAF, Louisiana)
  • 1944: Disbanded
  • 1951: Activation of the squadron in Mountain Home, Idaho (as 580 ARS)
  • 1951: C-119 'Flying Boxcar' (part of 580 ARC)
  • 1952: C-119 'Flying Boxcar' (Wheelus AFB [Lib.])
  • 1956: Deactivated
  • 1958: Activation of the squadron in England, Louisiana (as 480 TFS)
  • 1958: F-100D/F 'Super Sabre' (part of 366 FBW)
  • 1959: Disbanded
  • 1962: Activation of the squadron in Chaumont [Fr.]
  • 1962: F-84F 'Thunderstreak' (part of 366 TFW)
  • 1962: F-84F 'Thunderstreak' (Phalsbourg AB [Fr.])
  • 1963: F-100D/F 'Super Sabre' (Holloman AFB, New Mexico)
  • 1965: F-4C 'Phantom II'
  • 1966: F-4C 'Phantom II' (Da Nang AFB [S. Vietn.])
  • 1966: F-4C 'Phantom II' (part of 6252 TFW)
  • 1966: F-4C 'Phantom II' (part of 35 TFW)
  • 1966: F-4C 'Phantom II' (part of 366 TFW)
  • 1969: F-4D 'Phantom II' (part of 37 TFW, Phu Cat AFB [S. Vietn.])
  • 1970: F-4D 'Phantom II' (part of 12 TFW)
  • 1971: Disbanded
  • 1976: Activation of the squadron in Spangdahlem [Germ.]
  • 1976: F-4D 'Phantom II' (part of 52 TFW)
  • 1980: F-4E 'Phantom II'
  • 1983: F-4G 'Phantom II' (simultaneous)
  • 1987: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (simultaneous)
  • 1992: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 52 OG)
  • 1994: Disbanded
  • 2010: Activation of the squadron in Spangdahlem [Germ.]
  • 2010: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 52 OG)


' Odyssey Dawn/Unified Protector'
Aviano AB, Italy (March 19th, 2011 to July of 2011)
Deployed to help enforce the no-fly zone over Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn / Operation Unified Protector. A total of 19 aircraft were sent.
' New Dawn'
Balad AB, Iraq (April 2011 to November 2011)
Operation New Dawn replaced Operation Iraqi Freedom on September 1st, 2010 and is the part of the campaign intended to be the withdraw from Iraq. Deployed with 90 maintainers who kept 16 Vipers, flown by 32 pilots. Mission was to provide close-air support for the Army on the ground. The 480th FS pilots flew 9,000 hours during this deployment. In that flight time, they completed 2,259 sorties protecting 11,378 service members and apprehended 121 insurgents. These sorties included convoy, base and task force mission protections.
' Enduring Freedom'
Kandahar AB, Afghanistan (April 24th, 2013 to December 14, 2013)
Eight month deployment to provide air support for the continuing operations in Afghanistan staring in April of 2013.
' Inherent Resolve'
Unknown location (April 7, 2016 to October 12, 2016)
Part of the continuing efforts against ISIS targets within Iraq and Syria. During the deployment, coalition forces regained 10,000 square-kilometers and liberated up to five cities including a supply center that Da'esh terrorists. Airman 1st Class Nathaniel McDavitt, an F-16 tactical aircraft maintainer, who was killed in a weather-related incident April 15, 2016, during the deployment.

F-16 Airframe Inventory


Special Thanks

Henry Cummings
Maj. John J. Szews

Errors and Omissions

Please use this form to add any list any error or omissions you find in the above text.

Note: your comments will be displayed immediately on this page. If you wish to send a private comment to the webmasters, please use the Contact Us link.