Hill AFB—The accomplishments of both the F-16 aircraft and the airmen that piloted them were celebrated on Sept. 8, in a ceremony recognizing the fighter’s 38 years at the base.
Dubbed the “viper” because of its appearance at take-off, the F-16s will now be assigned primarily to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico, to make room for the F-35A at Hill.
According to information from the Air Force, the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill was the first unit in the Air Force to receive a combat-operational F-16, in January 1979.
Since that time, F-16s have supported every military operation the country has been involved in, from Operation Desert Storm to Operation Iraqi Freedom, to Operations Freedom Sentinel and Inherent Resolve and more.
Gov. Gary Herbert praised the airmen who have flown and maintained the F-16 for nearly four decades, saying they were among the best in the world. He declared Sept. 8, 2017 Fighting Falcon Appreciation Day.
While operational F-16s are departing the base, according to the release, Hill’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex will continue to perform depot modifications and maintenance on the F-16, so they may still be seen over Utah on occasion.
Three operational ready fighter squadrons with 78 F-35 Lightning IIs will be based at Hill by the close of 2019.
“We are leaving behind a proud heritage with the F-16,” said Col. David Smith, 419 Fighter Wing commander, “but we are bringing on a great, new mission with the F-35 that will hopefully be here for at least 38 more years.”