Report by : Thierry Letellier
After my trip in Alaska, my main target was to see the very last F-16 A/B in the active inventory of the US Airforce. So i took the direction of Tucson Air National Guard AB. And i was lucky enough to register a good level of activity with all the expected versions of F-16.
The unit’s history dates back to 1956 when the 152nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Arizona Air National Guard flew the Korean War vintage F-86A. The Air National Guard officially redesignated the unit as the 162nd Tactical Fighter Training Group and the 152nd Tactical Fighter Squadron in 1969. The unit’s new job was producing combat-ready pilots for the F-100 aircraft. They graduated their first students in 1970. Shortly afterward, the unit formed the Air National Guard Fighter Weapons School in Tucson. This school taught Air Guard and Reserve fighter pilots from throughout the country to effectively use advanced tactics and weapons technology. In the early 1980s the Group also received the A-7K, a two-seat combat-capable training aircraft. This was the first time an aircraft manufacturer produced a new aircraft specifically designed for Air National Guard use.
In 1985, the unit began a unique dual training mission in the F-16 and A-7 aircraft. . In 1989 the Netherlands and the United States formally agreed to use the 162nd Fighter Group’s first-rate facilities and people to train Dutch fighter pilots in the F-16 aircraft. Now the unit flies the F-16 C/D and the newer F-16E/F “Fighting Falcon” aircraft The wing manages a fleet of more than 70 F-16 C/D and Mid-Life Update (MLU) Fighting Falcons. There are three flying squadrons and numerous maintenance squadrons and flights assigned to the wing. Under the 162nd Operations Group are the 152nd, 195th, and 148th Fighter Squadrons. Supporting these units are the Mission Support Group, the Maintenance Group, the Medical Group and Headquarters Squadron.
The Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Test Center (AATC) is a tenant unit on Tucson Air National Guard Base and is hosted by the 162nd Fighter Wing, Arizona Air National Guard. AATC conducts operational test on behalf of each Air Force major command and possesses seven F-16s (Block 25/32 aircraft) to support the primary mission of F-16 operational flight program (OFP) testing. The notorious presence of older F-16 A/B in action for the 162 FW was noted during this report. It was for me a quasi unique occasion to see to operating in the same wing a good part of the F-16 types As A/B/C/D/E/F. I did not regret those two days spent around Tucson intl / ANGB and i took some informations for the next spotting cessions.