F-16 Reference

188th Fighter Squadron ( USAF ANG)

" Tacos"  

F-16 Units main menu | USAF Air National Guard units overview
188 FS " Tacos" ( USAF ANG)
Version: F-16C/D block 30 (big mouth & small mouth)
Role: Attack, Testing
Tailband: Yellow
Motto: We Don't Fuck Around
Badge: A Taco Zia symbol with an F-16.
Disbanded in September of 2010.

Sideways profile for the 188th FS in 2007.

F-16 History

The ‘Tacos’ flew A-7D's for twenty years before converting to the F-16. On May 11th, 1992 the 188th FS received their first F-16C - a block 40 - and their last A-7D left on September 28th, 1992. With this event the A-7D was almost phased out completely as the 188th FS was one of the last Guard units to fly the venerable type. Instead of converting to older A/B models, the squadron received relatively new block 40 airframes. This type has the LANTIRN system on board for advanced navigation and targeting by day and night. The unit was the first within the Air National Guard to have this capacity.

As an odd move the squadron gave up its block 40 airframes in June of 2003, receiving older block 30 airframes in its place. At that time these airframes were receiving the so-called CCIP upgrade which made them practically identical to the former block 40 airframes, although they lack some of the more advanced electronics as the former block type.

USAF F-16C block 30 #87-0334 from the 188th FS is recovering to Nellis AFB on October 26th, 2009 after a mission during a 2 week deployment. [Photo by EOR]

An out of the ordinary organizational setup was also at hand in the 188th FS. Within the squadron was another flight – being the 150th DSE (Defense System Evaluation) – which flew small mouth block 30 airframes. It typically had about five on hand. Even during the time frame when the 188th FS was flying block 40's the DSE had small mouth F-16 block 30's. Big mouth F-16s were flown by the 188th FS after their conversion to the type in 2003. The 150th DSE flew evaluation missions for a variety of services and countries. Typically testing for the army and various navies around the world. With the USAF, the 150th DSE was selected to do all the flight tests for the F/A-22 before they leave the Marietta factory in Georgia. Tests usually involve avionics, radar systems and more. The would deployed two jets to Georgia for a six week period for each test. But for the most part any other tests were done over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The 150th DSE was disbanded in 2007 with many jets departing during the year prior.

Although rated a number 1 facility in the 2005 BRAC plan, the USAF decided to close down the flying unit and convert Kirtland AFB to a special ops base. This meant the 188th FS lost its airframes in the course of 2010, with the final F-16 departing in September of the same year. Conversion to their new mission is still at hand at this moment (2012).

USAF F-16C block 30 #85-1567 is carrying two AQM-37c air to ship missiles while testing (150th DSE) with the U.S. Navy. [USAF photo]

Aircraft Markings History

1992 - 2003

The tail consisted of a high yellow tailband with a thin red trim and the state flag symbol. The tail code 'NM' - standing for New Maxico - is in the center of the tail with the serial beneath it. In small letters on the base of the tail are the words 'The Tacos' which remained through all markings over the years.

1995 - 2005

Beginning in 1995 the 150th FW added the 150th DSE test unit and vipers flown by the DSE used these shown markings on their block 30's. The tailband was black with a then yellow trim and markings of the New Mexico flag symbol and road runner within. The 'NM' tail code remained on the aircraft. In small letters on the base of the tail are the words 'The Tacos' which remained through all markings over the years.

2003 - 2010

These years marked the flashiest markings for the 188th FS who emblazoned the tails of their aircraft with large road runners. During this time period the 'NM' tailcode was dropped. The tailband reverted back to the original style but made smaller to make more room for the road runner. In small letters on the base of the tail are the words 'The Tacos' which remained through all markings over the years.

Unit History

  • 1943: Activation of the squadron in Key Field, Mississippi (as 621 BS)
  • 1943: A-24A 'Dauntless' (part of 404 BG)
  • 1943: A-24A 'Dauntless' (part of 404 FBG, as 507 FBS)
  • 1943: P-39 'Airacobra' (part of 404 FBG, as 507 FBS)
  • 1943: P-39 'Airacobra' (Boxted [Eng.])
  • 1943: P-39 'Airacobra' (Greenham Common [Eng.])
  • 1944: P-39 'Airacobra' (Ibsley [Eng.])
  • 1944: P-39 'Airacobra' (Lashenden [Eng.])
  • 1944: P-39 'Airacobra' (part of 404 FG)
  • 1944: P-39 'Airacobra' (Cricqueville [Fr.])
  • 1944: P-39 'Airacobra' (Saint-Pierre Eglise [Fr.])
  • 1944: P-39 'Airacobra' (Rennes [Fr.])
  • 1944: P-39 'Airacobra' (Le Mans [Fr.])
  • 1944: P-39 'Airacobra' (St-Dizier [Fr.])
  • 1944: P-39 'Airacobra' (Metz AP [Fr.])
  • 1945: P-39 'Airacobra' (Königstein [Ger.])
  • 1945: P-39 'Airacobra' (Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina)
  • 1945: Deactivated
  • 1946: Activation of the squadron in Kirtland, New Mexico (as 188 FS)
  • 1946: A-26 'Invader' (part of 4 AF)
  • 1947: P-51D 'Mustang'
  • 1948: P-51D 'Mustang' (part of 81 FW)
  • 1950: P-51D 'Mustang' (part of 81 FIW)
  • 1951: P-51D 'Mustang' (part of 1 FIW, Long Beach AP, California)
  • 1952: P-51D 'Mustang' (part of 4705 DW)
  • 1952: P-51D 'Mustang' (part of 27 AD)
  • 1952: P-51D 'Mustang' (part of 34 AD, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico)
  • 1953: P-80C 'Shooting Star'
  • 1957: P-80C 'Shooting Star' (part of 150 TFG)
  • 1958: F-100A 'Super Sabre'
  • 1964: F-100C/F 'Super Sabre'
  • 1973: A-7D 'Corsair II'
  • 1992: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 150 FG)
  • 1995: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 150 FW)
  • 2010: Disbanded


' Deliberate Force'
Aviano AB, Italy (February of 1995 to June of 1995)
This operation only lasted for a couple of weeks. It was to show force to the Serbian authorities. It continued with Operation Deny Flight afterwards.
' Southern Watch'
Al Jaber AB, Kuwait [6 F-16s] (April of 1998 to July of 1998)
Operation Southern Watch was an operation which was responsible for enforcing the United Nations mandated no-fly zone below the 32nd parallel in Iraq. This mission was initiated mainly to cover for attacks of Iraqi forces on the Iraqi Shi’ite Muslims.
' Northern Watch'
Incirlik AB, Turkey (March of 2001 to June of 2001)
Operation Northern Watch was a US European Command Combined Task Force (CTF) who was responsible for enforcing the United Nations mandated no-fly zone above the 36th parallel in Iraq. This mission was a successor to Operation Provide Comfort which also entailed support for the Iraqi Kurds.
' Enduring Freedom'
Bagram AB, Afghanistan (February of 2002 to May of 2002)
Operation 'Enduring Freedom' was initiated after the 9/11 attacks on the US. In Afghanistan this operation is aimed at fighting the remains of the Taliban which are still present in-country.
' Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq (May of 2004 to September of 2004)
The 188th was the third squadron to be stationed at Balad AB in Iraq. This was their first deployment for an Operation Iraqi Freedom rotation.
' Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq [6 F-16s] (October 29th, 2007 to January 12th, 2007)
Rainbow deployment AEF 9/10 (Cycle 6) which included a large amount of Air National Guard squadrons; the 119th, 120th, 134th, 163rd, 186th and 188th FS. Cycle started in September and the 188th FS sent six aircraft with two spares that returned stateside immediately.
' Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq [6 F-16s] (May 10th, 2009 to September 8th, 2009)
This also was a rainbow deployment together with F-16s of the 100th and 120th FS.

F-16 Airframe Inventory


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.