Cold War Samurai – The 14th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 1987 – 1991

This site's the panther's roar! Photo of 549 courtesy of Mr. Akira Watanabe of nabe3saviation.web.fc2.com

14TFS Order of Battle

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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:

85-1414*
85-1545
85-1547
85-1548
85-1549
85-1550
85-1551
85-1553
85-1554
85-1555
85-1556
85-1557
85-1558
85-1559
85-1560
85-1561
85-1562
85-1563
85-1564
85-1565
85-1566
85-1567
85-1568
85-1569
85-1570
85-1571**
85-1573**

* 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”

14TFS F-16D 85-1573 with self-loading cargo aboard.  Note color decal markings for 14TFS and PACAF emblems, as well as original location of yellow and black checkered band on tail.  The unique 432TFW low vis emblem has not been applied yet, suggesting this is a view of the aircraft shortly after its arrival at Misawa in 1987. (14TFS web log)

14TFS F-16D 85-1573 with self-loading cargo aboard. Note color decal markings for 14TFS and PACAF emblems, as well as original location of yellow and black checkered band on tail. The unique 432TFW low vis emblem has not been applied yet aft of the cockpit, suggesting this is a view of the aircraft shortly after its arrival at Misawa in 1987. (14TFS web log)

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.

Circa November 2012, the first Boeing QF-16 aerial target training system, 85-1569 (sigh) arrived at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, in preparation for U.S. Air Force developmental testing. (Courtesy Unmanned Systems Technology)

Circa Nov 2012, the first Boeing QF-16 aerial target training system, ex-14TFS 85-1569, arrived at Tyndall AFB, Florida, in preparation for U.S. Air Force developmental testing. (Courtesy Unmanned Systems Technology)

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.

F-16C 85-1566 in the big blue sky with three other Vipers all from the 457FS, 30 August 2012.

F-16C 85-1556 (at left) in the big blue sky with three other Vipers, all with the 457FS, 30 Aug 2012.

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!”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Walker, F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, prepares to fly an F-16 Fighting Falcon at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 18 Feb 2014. Walker is the 495th Fighter Group detachment 93 commander from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Walker, fighter pilot, prepares to fly F-16C 85-1556 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 18 Feb 2014. Walker is the 495th Fighter Group detachment 93 commander from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman/Released)

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!

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Walker, fighter pilot, prepares to take-off in F-16C 85-1556 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 18 Feb 2014.  Walker is the 495th Fighter Group detachment 93 commander from Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Walker, fighter pilot, prepares to take-off in F-16C 85-1556 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, 18 Feb 2014. Walker is the 495th Fighter Group detachment 93 commander from Homestead Air Reserve Base, FL. Note the aircraft serial number on the canopy, forward.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman/Released)

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!

References
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

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