F-16 Reference

79th Fighter Squadron ( USAF ACC)

" Tigers"  

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79 FS " Tigers" ( USAF ACC)
Version: F-16C/D block 50
Role: Multirole, SEAD
Tailband: Orange (with black tiger stripes)
Motto: Tiger, Tiger... all for freedom.
Badge: N/A

Sideways profile for the 79th FS in 2005 with the special Tiger markings on the tail.

F-16 History

The 79th FS started receiving the first F-16s in 1994 after departing RAF Upper Heyford in October of 1993. The reason behind the reactivation was to keep the history alive of the 20th FW and its resident squadrons over those of the 363rd FW which deactivated and its squadrons as well. Along with the number change to both wing and squadrons at Shaw AFB there was also a block change for the F-16s with the introduction of the block 50. The newly activating squadrons at Shaw, which included the 77th, 78th and 79th FS (the 55th FS became an F-16 squadron in 1997) were all receiving block 50s for the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) mission. This was a completely new mission for Shaw AFB.

For the SEAD mission the aircraft are equipped with the HARM Targeting System (HTS) and the AGM-88 HARM missile. With the development of more advanced targeting pods it became possible to deploy these airframes in the so-called Destruction of Enemy Air Defense (DEAD) mission. This improves the output of each mission dramatically with the aircraft being able to detect and destroy radar systems and also being able to destroy other dedicated targets.

Lt. Col. Don Butler, commander of the 79th FS, flies F-16C block 50 #91-0379 on February 23rd, 2007 in support of Col. James W. Hyatt's final flight as a wing commander at Shaw AFB. [USAF photo by SSgt. Sarayuth Pinthong]

Aircraft Markings History

1994 - present

The tail consists of a yellow tailband with black tiger stripes. The 'SW' tailcode (for Shaw) is in the center of the tail with the Air Combat Command logo in between them. The serial is situated on the base of the tail.

Unit History

  • 1918: Activation of the squadron in Waco, Texas
  • 1918: JN-4
  • 1918: JN-4 (Taliaferro Field, Texas)
  • 1918: Disbanded
  • 1933: Activation of the squadron in Barksdale, Louisiana
  • 1933: P-12E (part of 20 PG)
  • 1935: P-26 'Peashooter'
  • 1938: P-36 'Hawk'
  • 1939: P-36 'Hawk' (part of 20 FG, Moffett Field, California)
  • 1940: P-40 'Warhawk' (Hamilton Field, California)
  • 1942: P-40 'Warhawk' (Wilmington, North Carolina)
  • 1942: P-40 'Warhawk' (Morris Field, North Carolina)
  • 1942: P-39D 'Airacobra' (Paine Field, Washington)
  • 1943: P-39D 'Airacobra' (March Field, California)
  • 1943: P-38H/J 'Lightning' (Kings Cliffe [Eng.])
  • 1944: P-51C 'Mustang'
  • 1945: P-51D 'Mustang' (Camp Kilmer, New Jersey)
  • 1945: Deactivated
  • 1946: Activation of the squadron in Biggs, Texas
  • 1946: P-51K 'Mustang' (part of 20 FG)
  • 1946: P-51K 'Mustang' (Shaw Field, South Carolina)
  • 1948: F-84D 'Thunderjet' (part of 20 FBG)
  • 1951: F-84G 'Thunderjet' (Langley AFB, Virginia)
  • 1952: F-84G 'Thunderjet' (Woodbridge [Eng.])
  • 1955: F-84F 'Thunderstreak'
  • 1957: F-100D 'Super Sabre'
  • 1958: F-100D 'Super Sabre' (part of 20 TFW)
  • 1970: F-111E 'Aardvark' (Upper Heyford [Eng.])
  • 1991: F-111E 'Aardvark' (part of 20 FW)
  • 1992: F-111E 'Aardvark' (part of 20 OG)
  • 1993: Deactivated
  • 1994: Activation of the squadron in Shaw, South Carolina
  • 1994: F-16C/D 'Fighting Falcon' (part of 20 OG)


' Southern Watch'
Dhahran AB, Saudi Arabia (May of 1994 to August of 1994)
This marked the first deployment into theatre.
' Southern Watch'
Dhahran AB, Saudi Arabia (March of 1995 to June of 1995)
This marked the second consecutive deployment to the Middle East for an Operation Southern Watch mission. The squadron deployed over 220 airmen.
' Southern Watch'
Dhahran AB, Saudi Arabia (March of 1996 to June of 1995)
This marked the third consecutive deployment to the Middle East for an Operation Southern Watch mission. The squadron deployed over 180 airmen. It was relieved by the colleagues of the 77th FS afterwards.
' Desert Fox'
Ahmed Al Jaber AB, Kuwait (December 16th, 1998 to December 19th, 1998)
Operation Desert Fox was a four day operation against the Iraqi military to take out so-called weapons of mass destruction production sites. Mostly night missions were flown by the squadron.
' Allied Force'
Aviano AB, Italy (March 24th, 1999 to June 10th, 1999)
Operation 'Allied Force' was the codename for the almost three month long air strikes against Serbia. The 79th FS had a supporting contribution to this operation. The squadron also moved to Bandirma AB, Turkey in May during this operation.
' Southern Watch'
Shaikh Isa AB, Bahrain (July of 2000 to October of 2000)
In the year 2000 it was again an Operation Southern Watch deployment that got the 79th FS going. They followed their sister squadron - the 77th FS in this deployment. Over 200 airmen were deployed once again.
' Northern Watch'
Incirlik AB, Turkey (June of 2001 to September 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. They once again relieve the colleagues of the 77th FS.
' Iraqi Freedom'
Shaikh Isa AB, Bahrain (February of 2003 to May of 2003)
The 79th FS was in the front line during the invasion of Iraq in early 2003. The squadron performed non-stop air cover over Iraq during the advances of the ground troops. This entailed day and night time intercept and CAS missions.
' Iraqi Freedom'
Balad AB, Iraq (April of 2005 to July of 2005)
The 79th FS is put in the regular USAF rotation effort to fly units in and out to Iraq. This time the squadron deployed a total of 270 airmen and flew over 1,400 sorties.
' Enduring Freedom'
Bagram AB, Afghanistan (October 9th, 2009 to January 22nd, 2010)
Over 200 Air Force personnel from the Shaw AFB, South Carolina deployed in support of the 79th Expeditionary FIghter Squadron. This was their first deployment to Afghanistan.
' Enduring Freedom'
Bagram AB, Afghanistan (October of 2010 to January 23rd, 2011)
During November 19th, 2010 members of the 79th FS were called on to patrol skies over the Afghan capital of Kabul during President Hamid Karzai's inauguration. Typical flights were 6 hour missions on station to provide close-air-support. When the 79th returned back home to Shaw AFB, they were replaced by the 34th Fighter Squadron.
' New Dawn'
Balad AB, Iraq [18 F-16s] (June 2nd, 2011 to October 27th, 2011)
As the 79th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, with 18 aircraft, they flew air cover missions over Iraq.
' New Dawn'
Ahmed Al Jaber AB, Kuwait (February 3rd, 2012 to May 19th, 2012)
The 79th performed the last manned combat mission over Iraq. This brought to end 21 years of air cover over Iraq.
' Enduring Freedom'
Kandahar AB, Afghanistan (October 26th, 2012 to April 23rd, 2013)
This marked the squadrons final mission in this operation. A 6-month rotation together with its sister squadron, the 77th FS.
' Operation Freedom’s Sentinel '
Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan (October 21, 2016 to May 2017)
Afghanistan deployment with 18 aircraft.

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