Another USAF F-16C receives “ghost” paint scheme

A second USAF-operated Lockheed Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon has rolled out of the paint shop, sporting the now-popular ‘ghost' paint scheme.

The aircraft – serial 86-0299 (c/n 5C-405) – belongs to the 64th Aggressor Squadron (AGRS), based at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), Nevada. It is the second aircraft to receive the scheme, joining F-16C – serial 84-1220 (c/n 5C-57) – which is also operated by the same unit.

F-16C-32 Ghost Scheme [USAF/R Nial Bradshaw] #1
Lockheed Martin F-16C-32 Fighting Falcon - serial 86-0299 (c/n 5C-405) - departs Hill AFB, Utah, for Nellis AFB, Nevada, on June 3. USAF/R Nial Bradshaw

The new livery was applied by the 576th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS) at Hill AFB, Utah. It marked the first time the unit had painted a jet with a scheme that emerged via a crowdsourcing competition, which was held on social media last year.

Jim Gill, production flight chief with the 576th AMXS, said: “The paint shop at Nellis did one of these planes last year and asked us to paint this one… They sent us pictures and gave us the pattern, but there were no instructions. We had to put it together ourselves.”

F-16C-32 Ghost Scheme [USAF/R Nial Bradshaw] #2
Up close with the USAF's second 'ghost' schemed F-16C. USAF/R Nial Bradshaw

USAF aggressor units feature elaborate paint schemes which are intended to replicate and adversary fighter aircraft. Aircrews from the US and partner nations routinely train against accurate and realistic threats and these jets are painted to replicate what serving pilots may see in real-life aerial combat.

According to the press release from Hill AFB, the “paint shop can apply a new coat of [grey] paint to an F-16 in 11 days. The timeline to get a ghost F-16 aggressor was 18 days. Twelve people worked 18 days on three different shifts to apply blue, black, two different [greys] and red paint to the normally solid [grey] aircraft.”