F-16 Reference

125th Fighter Squadron ( USAF ANG)

" Tulsa Vipers"  

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125 FS " Tulsa Vipers" ( USAF ANG)
Version: F-16C/D block 42
Role: Attack
Tailband: Red
Motto: Cave Castorea (Beware of Beavers)
Badge: N/A

Sideways profile for the 125th FS in 2004 with unit markings on the tail.

F-16 History

The squadron started receiving their first F-16s in 1993. These were of the block 42 type, replacing the venerable A-7 in the attack roles. Most of these airframes came from Osan AFB and Shaw AFB, which units’ were trading in these blocks for other block types. The squadron, although an ANG unit – which are mostly tasked with air defense of US mainland – was tasked with a conventional attack mission. This was already the case in the A-7 and even in the F-100 days. The squadron was one of the first Guard units to be equipped with the LANTIRN system to be able to illuminate their own ground targets. At the time of conversion this unit was one of the most advanced within the Air National Guard.

Beginning around February of 2008 the squadron took over the ASA role over Houston from the Texas ANG (which converted to UAVs). The detachment is called 138th FW Det 1 ‘The Tribe’. When the 111th FS disbanded, the Tulsa vipers rotated through Fort Worth, Texas to cover the alert detachment as well.

USAF F-16C block 42 #89-2040 of the 125th FS landing at Tulsa, Oklahoma on March 7th, 2005. [Photo by Ralph Duenas]

One of the more remarkable facts about the unit is the tail scheme these vipers are wearing. The first markings for the 125th FS were a very plain gray tail with an 'OK' tailcode and at the tip of the tail was the text 'Tulsa' stenciled in white letters. These markings were not well liked and when compared to other units of the Air National Guard lead to a desire to apply a more appropriate tail marking. In 1995 a group of pilots approached MSgt. Charles Arroyo to come up with a design for the tails. That night Charles came up with a design that seemed to meet the appreciation of the of the 125th FS. During the summer of 1995, the Wing jet (#89-2138) received the first very colorful Indian head markings. It was intended that these markings only be applied to the Wing Commanders aircraft. Timing could not have been better as during an inspection by the 12th Air Force, the lead inspector suggested that all the squadron aircraft receive the full color markings and the 138th FW Commander, General Ron Turner, agreed. In fact that influence lead to General Turner putting the Indian head markings on the C-130s based out of Rogers, Oklahoma. Thus the Indian head has become a recognized symbol of the entire Oklahoma Air National Guard.

USAF F-16C block 42 #89-2138 from the 125th FS on a clear blue day landing at Tulsa, Oklahoma on September 8th, 2004. [Photo by Ralph Duenas]

Aircraft Markings History

1993 - 1995

The tail consisted of a 'OK' tailcade with the serial underneath. Variation included white lettering at the top of the tail in cursive writing the name 'Tulsa."

1995 - 2007

In 1995 a completely revised scheme was introduced. A red tailband appeared with white 'Tulsa' stencilling inside. The tailcode was still 'OK', but was moved higher to make room for a full color indian head. The serial number was placed on the tail base.

2007 - present

Everything remained the same, albeit the indian head was painted in toned-down markings.

Unit History

  • 1940: Activation of the squadron in Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • 1940: O-38E (part of 68 OG, Post Field, Oklahoma)
  • 1942: O-38E (part of 77 OG, Brownwood, Texas)
  • 1942: O-47
  • 1942: O-52 (part of 76 RG, Abilene, Texas)
  • 1942: O-52 (DeRidder AAB, Louisiana)
  • 1942: O-52 (Abilene, Texas)
  • 1943: L-5 (part of 76 LG, Alamo Field, Texas)
  • 1943: L-5 (Desert Center, California)
  • 1943: L-5 (Thermal, California)
  • 1944: L-5 (Cheltenham [Eng.])
  • 1944: L-5 (Chedworth [Eng.])
  • 1944: L-5 (Erlestoke [Eng.])
  • 1944: L-5 (St. Saveur-Lendelin [Fr.])
  • 1944: L-5 (Rennes [Fr.])
  • 1944: L-5 (Arlon [Bel.])
  • 1944: L-5 (Maastricht [Neth.])
  • 1945: L-5 (Munchen-Gladbach [Ger.])
  • 1945: L-5 (Haltern [Ger.])
  • 1945: L-5 (Gutersloh [Ger.])
  • 1945: L-5 (Brunswick [Ger.])
  • 1945: L-5 (Heidelberg [Ger.])
  • 1945: L-5 (Frankfurt [Ger.])
  • 1945: Deactivated
  • 1946: Activation of the squadron in Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • 1946: P-51D 'Mustang' (part of 138 FBG)
  • 1950: F-84B 'Thunderjet' (part of 137 FBG, Alexandria AFB, Louisiana)
  • 1952: P-51D 'Mustang' (part of 138 FBG, Tulsa IAP, Oklahoma)
  • 1954: F-80C 'Shooting Star'
  • 1957: F-86D/L 'Sabre' (part of 138 FIG)
  • 1960: C-97G 'Stratofreighter' (part of 137 ATG)
  • 1968: C-124C 'Globemaster II'
  • 1973: F-100D/F 'Super Sabre' (part of 138 TFG)
  • 1978: A-7D/K 'Corsair II'
  • 1992: A-7D/K 'Corsair II' (part of 138 FG)
  • 1993: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon'
  • 1995: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 138 FW)


' Northern Watch'
Incirlik AB, Turkey [8 F-16s] (October 9th, 1996 to January 7th, 1997)
Part of a rainbow deployment involving the Air National Guard block 42 squadrons. Each squadron provided eight aircraft to a total of 24 aircraft sent.
' Northern Watch'
Incirlik AB, Turkey (March of 1998 to May of 1998)
This was the second deployment to Turkey to protect the population in northern Iraq. This was again part of a rainbow package of ANG units.
' Southern Watch'
Al Jaber AB, Kuwait (September 11th, 2001 to November of 2001)
The first and only Operation Southern Watch deployment for the 125th FS saw 300 airman deployed, split with 150 for the first half of the deployment and 150 for the second half of the deployment. Included aircraft and members from the 112th and 124th Fighter Squadrons which covered the early part of the deployment starting in July.
' Northern Watch'
Incirlik AB, Turkey (September of 2002 to October of 2002)
This was the final deployment in the series of Northern Watch operations. A total of 150 guardsman were deployed in Turkey to support this mission.
' Iraqi Freedom'
Al Udeid AB, Qatar (May of 2005 to July of 2005)
After a three-year suspension of operations abroad, the 125th was again sent to South East Asia to fly support of the ground troops stationed in Iraq. Rainbow deployment with a mix of Tulsa 125th Fighter Squadron, Des Moines 124th Fighter Squadron and Toledo 112th Fighter Squadron aircraft. Often mistaken for deploying to Balad AB in Iraq.
' Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq [8 F-16s] (May 19th, 2007 to August 16th, 2007)
About 190 members of the 125th FS deployed to Iraq to join the over 100 that had already there. Jets of the 125th FS had already gone with the 112th FS that deployed on May 23rd, 2007. Six F-16s from each squadron were shared, making a total of twelve that were sent. One aircraft was lost along with Lt.Col. Kevin Sonnenberg on June 16th, 2007. Two more 125th FS F-16s were sent on June 25th, 2007 intended to replace the one lost. Members of the 125th FS are replacing the airman of the 112th FS.
' Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq [5 F-16s] (September 18th, 2008 to January 11th, 2009)
Four month deployment involving about 200 airmen from the 138th FW. Ten aircraft, five from each of the 112th and 125th FS left September 18th, 2008 but the Toledo crew didn't arrive till October 5th. It was felt that the deployment was too short to have a patch made, so there is no patch for this deployment.
' New Dawn'
Al Asad AB, Iraq (October 28th, 2011 to February 3rd, 2012)
This was a three month rotation into Iraq as the drawdawn of troops was already in full swing.
' Enduring Freedom'
Kandahar AB, Afghanistan (April 24th, 2013 to December 14th, 2013)
This marked the final mission into Kandahar AB as the next deployment (of the 457th FS) was supposed to go back to Bagram after extensive runway repairs.
' Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR)'
Afghanistan (June 2023 to August 6, 2018)
Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) is the US military's operational name for the international war against the ISIS, Includes operations in Libya, Iraq and Syria running from June 15, 2014 to present.
' Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR)'
Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia (August 2023 to November 28, 2023)
Deployed as the 125th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron with twelve F-16Cs which had recently been upgraded to the APG-83 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar. Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) is the US military's operational name for the international war against the ISIS, Includes operations in Libya, Iraq and Syria running from June 15, 2014 to present. Most operations have concluded in Iraq and Libya by the time the 125th EFS deploye.

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