It’s Burner Friday once again, FighterSweep fans! This week’s installment features a Lockheed-Martin F-16CM Fighting Falcon. This particular jet, powered by the Pratt & Whitney F-100-PW-220E engine, is a Block 42 belonging to the F-16 Division of the United States Air Force Weapons School. Historically, 615 Vipers in the Block 40/42 configuration were sold to the air forces of five nations.
The squadron itself began its life as the 16th Pursuit Squadron in November of 1940. Over the course of the second World War, the unit flew missions over New Guinea, India, and China–initially in the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, followed by the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, and then the North American P-51 Mustang.
With the commencement of hostilities in Korea the 16th, redesignated as a Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, flew combat sorties in both the Lockheed F-80 and North American F-86 Sabre. After the war, the 16th was stationed all over the world, flying missions in the Convair F-106 and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II aircraft.
The 1970s brought the 16th to Hill AFB, Utah, where it received the very first production F-16A Fighting Falcon on 6 January 1979. In the spring of 1983, the squadron was redesignated as a Tactical Fighter Squadron, but went from being the first Viper Formal Training Unit to the task of training F-16 pilots to higher levels of combat readiness. The squadron was shut down in 1986, then reactivated on 3 February 2003 as the 16th Weapons Squadron “Tomahawks.”
The Weapons School’s F-16 Division is composed entirely of Block 42 and 52 Vipers, and responsible for creating the USAF F-16 community’s tactical experts.