The 14TFS has a Primary Aircraft Authorization (PAA) of 24 jets, the normal standard for a tactical fighter squadron at the time. Don’t recall if this number included only the single seat F-16C Vipers or the F-16D self-loading cargo version too.
This number (24) allowed the Samurai the flexibility to train, maintain, and send aircraft off on training exercises away from home station, and keep the whole outfit gainfully employed.
In late 1988, the squadron actually had a high number of 27 aircraft on hand, including the two family models. The F-16C serial numbers assigned to the 14TFS/AMU were:
* The squadron flagship, 85-1414, was lost in a mishap on 2 Sep 1988, in a mountainous area near tiny Kawai Village, 142 miles south of Misawa in Iwate Prefecture. 14TFS Pilot Capt V-doe ejected safely.
** F-16D “Family Model/Tub”
It is a sign of the passage of time, sigh, to see that after serving with other active duty and reserve component units most of these aircraft are now in the boneyard in Arizona. Some never made it that far, as they were lost in mishaps over the years. Several of them are now entering the QF-16 program and will soon be “drone-blown.” In fact, the first QF-16 to arrive at Tyndall was tail number 569 – sigh… The ultimate fate of most of these airframes is yet to unfold.
However, at the time of this writing, (6 Jun 2014, D-Day 70th Anniversary for 14PRS folks), at least one of the original 14TFS Vipers is still in operational service, tail number 556, flying with the 457th Fighter Squadron of the AF Reserve Command, JRB Ft. Worth, Texas.
In early 2014, 556 flew over Afghanistan helping our troops in that difficult place. Note in the picture below how she is loaded with GBU-54 Laser JDAMs, the USAF’s newest 500-lb precision guided weapons combining GPS and laser guidance. The pairs of GBU-54’s are loaded onto BRU-57/A Multiple Carriage “Smart” Bomb Racks on stations 3 and 7, a far cry from the triple Mk 82s on Triple Ejector Racks the 14TFS commonly carried back in the 1980’s! But remember what we said back then, “dumb bombs, smart jet!”
And as 556 taxied out for a combat mission, she carried an American flag for someone, probably as a memento of service in Afghanistan. Our men and women in uniform there deserve our enduring support and utmost respect, as they proudly serve our country far away from home in a very difficult place. Hand salute!
Hopefully those Texans will keep 556 flying and fighting as long as they can – please donate her to the 14TFS Museum when you retire her. Well, ok, until that museum is built, how about getting her to the USAF Museum!
F-16 prepares for mission, 85-1556 images at: http://www.bagram.afcent.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123400527
First Boeing QF-16 Aerial Target Arrives at Tyndall Air Force Base, accessed at: http://www.unmannedsystemstechnology.com/2012/11/first-boeing-qf-16-aerial-target-arrives-at-tyndall-air-force-base/
Joint Direct Attack Munition, entry in Wikipedia, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_Direct_Attack_Munition
GBU-54 description, at: http://www.af.mil/News/Photos.aspx?igphoto=2000319498
BRU-57/A Multiple Carriage “Smart” Bomb Rack information at: http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/ac/equip/bru-57.htm