The departure of US Air Force (USAF) F-16C Fighting Falcon (serial 87-0346 ‘WI’) from Dane County Regional Airport, Madison-Truax Field, Wisconsin, on October 5 marked the end of F-16 operations by the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s (ANG’s) 115th Fighter Wing/176th Fighter Squadron ‘Badgers’ after three decades flying the type.
The active duty associate 495th Fighter Group/378th Fighter Squadron shared responsibility for operation of the F-16s. The aircraft was the Badgers’ eighth primary jet fighter type since its inception on May 26, 1946 and was an integral part of multiple worldwide (combat) deployments over the last 30 years. The 176th operated the following jets: F-80A Shooting Star (1949-1952); F-86A Sabre (1953-1954); F-89C/D/H/J Scorpion (1954-1966); F-102 Delta Dagger (1966-1974); OA-37B Dragonfly (1979-1981); A-10A Thunderbolt II (1981-1993); and the F-16A/B/C/D Fighting Falcon (1992-2022).
The last of the unit’s 25 aircraft were flown to bases in Arizona, Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey and Texas, for assignment to other squadrons. Viper pilots from other US units will deploy to Truax in support of the Guard’s Aerospace Control Alert mission while the 115th prepares to fly the F-35A, the first of which is due in spring 2023.