In the mid eighties the USAF decided to re-equip the Air National Guard units with more modern equipment. In the earlier decades the ANG always had to be thankful to receive older USAF jets. With the introduction of the F-16 this changed. The first models of the 134th FS were of the block 15 version – although also some block 1 and 10 models were flown for a brief time. These aircraft came from regular USAF squadrons who transitioned to newer C/D models, but still these airframes were no older than a mere 5 years.
Traditionally these ANG units were mainly tasked with defense of national airspace. The location of the Vermont ANG was much more specific in their relation to NORAD that they were tasked with this defense as a primary role. Therefore the block 15 lacked the Beyond Visual Range capability. However, this changed in the course of 1990 with the upgrade of their airframes to the block 15 ADF (Air Defense Fighter) version. This featured the addition of a CWI module on the APG-66 radar, more adapted communication equipment and the possibility to fire AIM-7 or the later AIM-120 missiles. This meant a serious leap in performance and capability of this squadron in their defensive role. As a result the Vermont ANG has one of the highest rates of interceptions of Russian bombers that were coming in over the North Pole, except for some Alaskan USAF units.
USAF F-16A block 15 #81-0740
from the 134th FIS is parked on the tarmac in the late 1980s before being converted to ADF standard. [Er-Ning Chang collection]
In 1994 the scope of the squadron was again enlarged with the introduction of the block 25 version of the F-16. The 134th FS was one of the first ANG units to receive the C/D models of the viper. At first the mission of the squadron remained relatively the same. But with the introduction of these airframes a more multirole mission profile became possible with the squadron being tasked to undertake deployments to the Middle East. In 1998 the squadron was one of five ANG squadrons to be equipped with the Theatre Airborne Reconnaissance System (TARS). This way the squadrons mission became somewhat specific in the USAF, since only these five ANG units posses a tactical reconnaissance capacity. They are therefore regularly asked to perform this mission for the entire organization.
On March 5th, 2008 - still in 186th FS markings - the 134th FS received its first F-16 block 30 (#87-0332) as the 186th FS converted to the F-15. This conversion is not only an engine change from the Pratt & Whitney to the General Electric but also to the big inlet viper. Before the end of 2008 the 134th FS had completed its conversion to the block 30. The block 25s were sent to the 179th FS, Edwards AFB and some went to AMARC for retirement in the 'boneyard.' IOC on the block 30 was reached in 2009 with the squadron being ready for combat.
USAF F-16C block 25 #83-1142
from the 134th FS in a clean configuration taxiing back after a local flight on July 22nd, 2008. [Photo by Philippe Colin