Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Anthony Graulus, Pierre Taquet & Archives as mentioned - Translation: Marc Arys
© sbap 2019
 

From 01 till 12 April, and this in parallel with the exercise EART (European Air Refueling Training), the well-known exercise "Frisian Flag" was held, as every year, under the auspices of the 322 TACTES at the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (KLU) airbase of Leeuwarden.
The Dutch authorities were not too positive about the organization of this 2019 edition, as the KLU is in full transition to their new fighter aircraft, the F-35A Lightning II.
The number of country was limited and the variety of aircraft held to F-16's, Typhoon, Mirage 2000D and F/A-18.
Moreover, the Swiss participation was quite timid, as the Hornets of the Troupes d'Aviation did not take part in every mission.
So the Dutch Air Force was the most representative, followed by the delegations of Poland, Germany and France.
But once again, also since for a couple of years, the United States of America were going viral with the participation of the 148 Fighter Wing, with their F-16C block 50 from the 179 Fighter Squadron "Bulldogs". Was also announced, but cancelled a few weeks before the start of the exercise, a delegation from the Wisconsin ANG.
So no less than ten F-16C with the low viz US roundels flew in from Duluth (Minnesota) to Northern Europe. We will come back to this prestigious unit a little further in our report.

 

The goals of "Frisian Flag" are:

- To provide a realistic training to the crews and ground personnel in a modern aerial combat environment
- To plan, execute and report on big scale missions
- To work out various responses to hefty threats
- To integrate ground troops
- To promote leadership, initiative and self-discipline
- To improve the evaluation, validation and development of various tactics
- To establish multinational relationships between the air forces

To achieve these goals, the missions flown during "Frisian Flag" are:

- Defensive protection of the ground elements, troops, slow moving or big tactical assets vehicles

Aerial defense systems:

- planned offensive strikes (Interdiction Strikes), Aerial Superiority (Sweep / Escort)
- Suppression of the enemy air defenses (SEAD) and dynamic targeting through joint tactical air controllers (JTAC) or a mix of both.

 Holding airspace of 180 NM x 120 NM, off the Western Dutch coast, each mission receives, in turn, a designated mission commander of each unit to plan, elaborate and executes the specific mission profile.
The planning of these missions takes about six hours, the flight commanders executing the initial planning within the frame of their specific tasks and resulting in a mass briefing.
The debriefing is also an important phase of the missions and allows emphasizing on the strong points and highlighting the gaps which are to be improved or altered.
 
EHLW Operations
 
The day rises on the Friesland
(Serge Van Heertum©)
With simply magical colors
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Runway clean-up
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Hunt the intruders
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Air traffic control...before action
(Serge Van Heertum©)
In case of
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Last chance point
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Follow the light
(Serge Van Heertum©)
All is ready...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...even the birds...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...and also the big boss
(Serge Van Heertum©)
A first morning flight...
(Serge Van Heertum©)
...for a weather check up
(Anthony Graulus©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Anthony Graulus©)
The ideal light
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Some support aircraft: PZL M-28B-PT "Bryza" from Polish Air Force
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Beechcraft 1900D from the Swiss Air Force
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
Participating aircraft
J-001 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (No markings)
J-002 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (No markings)
J-003 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (No markings)
J-008 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (313 Sqn)
J-017 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (322 TACTESS)
J-020 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (322 TACTESS)
J-060 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (322 TACTESS)
J-061 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (322 TACTESS)
J-063 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (313 Sqn)
J-065 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16BM (322 TACTESS)
J-144 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (322 TACTESS)
J-197 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (313 Sqn)
J-201 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (322 TACTESS)
J-362 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (322 TACTESS)
J-512 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (No markings)
J-616 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (313 Sqn)
J-624 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (No markings)
J-631 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (322 TACTESS)
J-646 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (No markings)
J-871 Koninklijke Luchtmacht Lockheed - Martin F-16AM (322 TACTESS)

3-AS  French Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000D (EC03.003)
3-JT  French Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000D (EC02.003)
3-XM  French Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000D (EC03.003)
30-XG French Air Force Dassault Mirage 2000D (EC03.003)

J-5003 Swiss Air Force Boeing F/A-18C-48MC Hornet (11 Staffel)
J-5007 Swiss Air Force Boeing F/A-18C-48MC Hornet (11 Staffel)
J-5011 Swiss Air Force Boeing F/A-18C-49MC Hornet (11 Staffel)
J-5026 Swiss Air Force Boeing F/A-18C-49MC Hornet (11 Staffel)
30+70 German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 (TLG74)
30+74 German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 (TLG74)
30+82 German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 (TLG71)
30+98 German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 (TLG31)
31+05 German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 (TLG31)
31+28 German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000T (TLG31)
31+33 German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 (TLG31)
31+41 German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 (TLG31)
31+45 German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 (TLG31)
31+46 German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000 (TLG31)

4040 Polish Air Force Lockheed - Martin F-16C-52CF (31.BLT / 3 & 6.elt)
4051 Polish Air Force Lockheed - Martin F-16C-52CF (31.BLT / 3 & 6.elt)
4053 Polish Air Force Lockheed - Martin F-16C-52CF (31.BLT / 3 & 6.elt)
4054 Polish Air Force Lockheed - Martin F-16C-52CF (31.BLT / 3 & 6.elt)
4056 Polish Air Force Lockheed - Martin F-16C-52CF (31.BLT / 3 & 6.elt)
4061 Polish Air Force Lockheed - Martin F-16C-52CF (31.BLT / 3 & 6.elt)
4073 Polish Air Force Lockheed - Martin F-16C-52CF (31.BLT / 3 & 6.elt)
4076 Polish Air Force Lockheed - Martin F-16D-52CF (31.BLT / 3 & 6.elt)

AF90-831 USAF Minn ANG Lockheed - Martin F-16CM-50CF (148FW / 179FS)
AF91-341 USAF Minn ANG Lockheed - Martin F-16CM-50CF (148FW / 179FS)
AF91-349 USAF Minn ANG Lockheed - Martin F-16CM-50CF (148FW / 179FS)
AF91-405 USAF Minn ANG Lockheed - Martin F-16CM-50CF (148FW / 179FS)
AF91-406 USAF Minn ANG Lockheed - Martin F-16CM-50CF (148FW / 179FS)
AF91-408 USAF Minn ANG Lockheed - Martin F-16CM-50CF (148FW / 179FS)
AF91-409 USAF Minn ANG Lockheed - Martin F-16CM-50CF (148FW / 179FS)
AF91-410 USAF Minn ANG Lockheed - Martin F-16CM-50CF (148FW / 179FS)
AF96-081 USAF Minn ANG Lockheed - Martin F-16CM-50CF (148FW / 179FS)
AF96-082 USAF Minn ANG Lockheed - Martin F-16CM-50CF (148FW / 179FS)
 
 
(Anthony Graulus©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
Dassault Falcon 20DC from Cobham Aviation Services. Note the AN/AAQ-188 Electronic Attack Training Pod
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
(Anthony Graulus©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Anthony Graulus©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Anthony Graulus©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) Note the special markings on the back of the fuel tanks
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Anthony Graulus©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
Quite amazing, but no squadron markings
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Pierre Taquet©)
 
(Anthony Graulus©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Anthony Graulus©) (Anthony Graulus©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Anthony Graulus©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
Roaaaaaaaaaaar...  Same in Polish language
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
 
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(via Google Earth)
 

148th Fighter Wing

The Duluth Air National Guard Base is currently home to the 148th Fighter Wing. This Fighter Wing is one of the most decorated Air National Guard fighter units in the U.S., winning many awards for outstanding performances, such as:
Winston P. Wilson award in 1957
Ricks Trophy for excellence in 1967
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in 1979, 1988, 1999, 2008, and 2009.
Raytheon Trophy (Formerly the Hughes Trophy) also in 2009 which is given to the best fighter units in the U.S. Air Force, becoming the only fourth National Guard unit ever to win the award, and the second F-16 unit to receive the honor.
The 148th Fighter Wing contains a flying squadron named the 179th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron "Bulldogs" which was the first Air National Guard Unit in the Minnesota area.
The unit was formed in 1948 with most of the original 50 men came from the 393rd Fighter Squadron that was deactivated at the end of World War II. The new 179 squadron took on the history, honors and colors of the 393rd until 1960, when the 148th Fighter Wing was formed.

179 Fighter Squadron History

World War II

The squadron was first organized as the 393rd Fighter Squadron at Hamilton Field, California, on 15 July 15th, 1943, as one of the original squadrons of the 367th Fighter Group. Several members of its initial cadre were former Flying Tigers with prior combat experience. It was not until late August, however, that the group received its first Bell P-39 Airacobra. After building up its strength, the squadron moved in October to Santa Rosa Army Air Field, California. In December group headquarters and the squadron moved to Oakland Municipal Airport, while the other squadrons of the group were at other locations in northern California. The squadron moved temporarily to Tonopah Army Air Field, Nevada, where it performed dive bombing and gunnery training. Training accidents with the Bell P-39 Airacobra cost several pilots their lives. In January 1944, as it prepared for overseas movement, the 393rd was beefed up with personnel from the 328th and 368th Fighter Groups. The squadron staged through Camp Shanks, and sailed for England aboard the SS Duchess of Bedford. The "Drunken Duchess" docked at Greenock, Scotland on April 3rd and the group was transported by train to its airfield at RAF Stoney Cross, England.
Having trained on single engine aircraft, the squadron's pilots were surprised to find Lockheed P-38J Lightning's sitting on Stoney Cross's dispersal pads. Only members of the advance party had any experience flying the Lightning. These pilots had flown combat sorties with the 55th Fighter Group. The change from single engine to twin engine aircraft required considerable retraining for both pilots and ground crew. Although some pilots entered combat with as little as eight hours of flying time on the P-38J, in late April the squadron was reinforced by pilots who had trained on the Lightning in the States and were more experienced on the type. However, the lack of instrument training in the P-38J took its toll on the 393rd as weather, not enemy action, caused the loss of pilots and airplanes.
On May 9th, 1944, the squadron flew its first combat mission, a fighter sweep over Alençon. The unit flew fighter sweeps, bomber escort and dive bombing, missions and suffered its first combat losses.
On D-Day and the next three days the squadron flew missions maintaining air cover over shipping carrying invasion troops. These missions continued for the next three days. The 393rd and other P-38 units stationed in United Kingdom were selected for these missions with the expectation that the distinctive silhouette of the Lightning would prevent potential friendly fire incidents by anti-aircraft gunners mistaking them for enemy fighters. Shortly after the Normandy invasion, on June 12th, the 367th Group was selected to test the ability of the P-38 to carry a 2.000 lbs bomb under each wing. The selected target was a railroad yard, and results were mixed. However, on this mission, the squadron scored its first air-to-air victory when Lt James Pinkerton and Lt James Mason teamed up to shoot down a Messerschmitt Me 410 flying near the assigned target.
By mid-June German ground forces had withdrawn to defend a perimeter around Cherbourg, a major port whose capture had become more important to the allies, with the destruction of Mulberry A, one of the artificial harbors constructed near the Normandy beachhead. An attack by VII Corps on June 22nd was to be preceded by low level bombing and strafing attack by IX Fighter Command. Briefed by intelligence to expect a "milk run" The 394th flew at low altitude through what turned out to be a heavily defended area. Within two to three minutes after beginning the attack the squadron lost five pilots. Seven group pilots were killed in action. Nearly all surviving aircraft received battle damage and the entire 367th Group was out of action for several days.
The 9th Air Force moved its medium bomber forces to bases closer to the Continent in July, so they would be able to strike targets near the expanding front in France. The 387th Bombardment Group was moved to Stoney Cross, forcing the 393rd to vacate their station and move the short distance to RAF Ibsley. From Ibsley the group struck railroads, marshaling yards, and trains to prevent enemy reinforcements from reaching the front during Operation Cobra, the Allied breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July 1944.
Starting on July 19th the 367th Group's forward echelon crossed the English Channel to take up stations in Normandy. Group headquarters shared Beuzeville Airfield with the 371st Fighter Group, while the 393rd Squadron was at Cricqueville Airfield, advanced landing grounds made from pierced steel planking (PSP). After the breakout of ground forces in the Saint-Lô area, the squadron concentrated on close air support of General Patton's Third Army. In late August, the squadron attacked German Seventh Army convoys which, to prevent being surrounded, were withdrawing eastward from the Falaise pocket. Five convoys and 100 Tiger Tanks were destroyed on one day.
On August 22nd, the group attacked three Luftwaffe airfields near Laon. The 392nd Fighter Squadron dive bombed and destroyed two hangars on one airfield but, were jumped by twelve Focke-Wulf Fw 190s as they completed their attack. Eighteen Messerschmitt Me 109s and Fw 190s engaged the 393rd as it reformed from its dive bomb run. After bombing its target, the 394th Fighter Squadron turned to reinforce the 392nd. The squadrons of the 367th Group claimed fourteen enemy aircraft in total against a loss of one Lightning.
The 393rd received a Distinguished Unit Citation when it returned to the Laon area three days later. That day, the 367th Group attacked Luftwaffe airfields at Clastres, Péronne and Rosières-en-Haye through an intense flak barrage. The group then engaged more than thirty Focke-Wulf 190 fighters that had just taken off. Group claims were 25 enemy aircraft destroyed, one probably destroyed and 17 damaged against the loss of 6 group aircraft. Then, despite a low fuel supply, the unit strafed a train and convoy after leaving the scene of battle. Captain Larry Blumer of the 393rd destroyed five enemy aircraft becoming an ace on one mission. In the afternoon the squadron conducted a long range fighter sweep of more than 800 miles to airfields in the Dijon-Bordeaux area.
As Allied forces moved forward across France the squadron began leap-frogging to new bases. In early September they relocated at Peray Airfield, but moved again a week later to Clastres Airfield. From Clastres, tThe 393rd supported Operation Market-Garden by escorting troop carrier aircraft and attacking flak positions. For its attacks that fall, the squadron was cited in the Order of the Day by the Belgium Army.
In late October, as 9th Air Force brought its medium bombers to bases in France, the 393rd was bumped from its station for the second time by the 387th Bomber Group, when it moved to Juvincourt Airfield, north of Reims. Juvincourt was a former Luftwaffe base with permanent facilities, in contrast to the advanced landing grounds where the squadron had been based since moving to France. The squadron attacked German strong points to aid the Allied push against the Siegfried Line throughout the fall of 1944.
The German Ardennes Offensive occurred as the holidays approached. A planned move to a field in Belgium was canceled. During the Battle of the Bulge, the 394th, after escorting C-47s on a resupply drop to encircled troops at Bastogne, conducted an armed reconnaissance of the Trier area. The group was engaged by Fw 190s and a 40 minutes air battle ensued in which the group claimed eight destroyed, two probably destroyed and nine damaged enemy planes.
Early in 1945 a desire to standardize the fighter-bombers in 9th Air Force, the squadron transitioned into Republic P-47D Thunderbolts. Pilots flew Lightings on combat missions while training at the same time with the Thunderbolt. The 393rd was the first squadron of the 367th Group to fly combat missions with the P-47s. Using the Thunderbolt the squadron was again cited in a Belgium Army Order of the Day, earning the "Belgian Fourragere".
The 393rd received a second Distinguished Unit Citation for action on March 19th, 1945. The 367th Group's target was the headquarters of Field Marshal Kesselring, the German Commander-ln-Chief, West, at Ziegenburg near Bad Nauheim, Germany. Aircraft of the leading 394th Fighter Squadron would attack at low level to achieve surprise, carrying a 1.000 Lbs bomb under each wing. The P-47s of the 392nd Fighter Squadron would be similarly armed, but would dive bomb from a higher altitude. The bombs were equipped with time-delay fuses intended to crack the concrete roofs of the bunker. The 393rd carried napalm intended to seep into the bunkers and burn what remained. The attack was scheduled for a time that intelligence reports indicated would find senior staff and commanders at lunch, the only time they would not be in the reinforced tunnels underneath the castle that housed the headquarters. The target was located in mountainous terrain well defended by antiaircraft artillery. Moreover, to avoid alerting the Germans to the pending attack, photographic reconnaissance aircraft had avoided the area, so detailed target photography was not available. The day of the attack the castle was concealed by ground haze which caused the 394th Fighter Squadron to stray off course at the last minute, preventing them from executing the attack as planned and reducing the element of surprise. Although senior German officers reached the underground bunkers and survived the attack, the group reduced the military complex to ruins, disrupting communications and the flow of intelligence at a critical time.
The squadron struck tanks, trucks, flak positions, and other objectives in support of the assault across the Rhine late in March and the final allied operations in Germany. It was commended by the commanding generals of XII Corps and the 11th Armored Division for the close air support the unit provided for their commands. On April 10th, 1945 the squadron moved to Eschborn Airfield on the northwest side of Frankfurt, Germany. The 393rd flew its last combat mission, a defensive patrol, one year after entering combat on 8 May. During its combat tour, the squadron was credited with 22.5 air-to-air victories over enemy aircraft.

 
Bell P-39 Airacobra 1943-1944
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
Lockheed P-38J Lightning 1944-1945
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
 
Return to the United States

All hostilities ceased the following day, exactly one year after the squadron became operational. On June 4th, the 367th Group led a flyby for General Weyland. On July 1st, 1945 it was announced the 393rd was to redeploy to the Pacific Theater after it was re-equipped with and trained with long range P-47N model in preparation for Operation Downfall, the invasion of Japan. The squadron moved to Camp Detroit in France then to a staging area near Marseille. Here it boarded two ships, the USS General C. G. Morton, and the USNS John Ericsson. When Japan surrendered, the Morton was diverted to Newport News, Virginia, while the Ericcson sailed for Staten Island, New York. Following leave for everyone, the few personnel that remained in the squadron after transfers and discharges reassembled at Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina, on November 2nd and the 393rd was inactivated there on November 7th, 1945.

Minnesota Air National Guard

The wartime 393rd Fighter Squadron was re-designated as 179th Fighter Squadron (FS) and was allotted to the National Guard on May 24th, 1946. It was organized at Duluth Municipal Airport and was extended federal recognition on September 17th, 1948. The squadron was equipped with North American F-51D Mustangs and was assigned to the 133rd Fighter Group at Wold-Chamberlain Field, Minneapolis.

Korean War activation

On March 1st, 1951 the 179th was federalized and brought to active duty due to the Korean War. Shortly after activation it was re-designated the 179th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS) and became part of Air Defense Command. On active duty it assumed an air defense mission and initially remained assigned to the 133rd Fighter Interceptor Group at Duluth Municipal Airport. In February 1952 the 133rd Group was inactivated and the squadron was reassigned to the 31st Air Division mostly for organizational difficulties. The squadron was inactivated and returned to the control of the State of Minnesota on December 1st, 1952.

 
Republic P-47N Thunderbolt 1945
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
North American F-51D Mustang 1948-1954
(Coll Denis Eusicom)
 
Cold War era

The unit was organized by January 1st, 1953 and ADC became its gaining command upon call to active duty. It resumed its peacetime training mission. The squadron upgraded in 1954 to the radar equipped Lockheed F-94 Starfire all-weather interceptor, armed with 20 millimeter gun. With this new aircraft, the 179th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron became an all-weather interceptor unit. In 1957 the 179th again upgraded to the improved Northrop F-89C Scorpion then in 1959, the unit converted to the F-89J model of the Scorpion, which was not only equipped with data link for interception control through the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment system, but which carried the nuclear armed AIR-2 Genie.
On July 1st, 1960, the 179th was authorized to expand to a group level, and the 148th Fighter Group (Air Defense) was established along with supporting squadrons. The 179th became the new group's flying squadron. The same day, the squadron assumed a 24/24 - 7/7 air defense alert status at Duluth alongside the regular Air Force 11th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.
After this transition, some bunkers were built to house and store 140 Air-to-Air Genie missiles, only eight of which did not have active nuclear warheads for training weapons. Combined, those missiles contained 220 kilotons of nuclear explosive material, equivalent to approximately fourteen times that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
The year of 1962 nearly spelled disaster for the United States, in the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis, as a nuclear war nearly broke out. This fact had its origins right in the Duluth Air National Guard Base. During the crisis, the Air Force was put on DEFCON 3, and dispersed 161 interceptors carrying nuclear weapons to small airfields across the country. On October 25th, 1962, a guard at the Duluth Air National Guard Base noticed a shadowy figure climbing the fence. Due to high tensions, the guard assumed something may have been sabotaged, and shot at the intruder before sounding the sabotage alarm. The alarm system was wired to any nearby airfields that had the nuclear weapon interceptors. At Volk Field, located in Alpena, Michigan, the alarm was received; however, the wrong alarm went off. Pilots scrambled to their fighters, and readied for takeoff to search for Russian bombers coming from Siberia. A few interceptors with armed nuclear warheads were in line to be scrambled as well. Luckily, the planes were grounded, and the pilots notified of the incorrect alarm. The intruder that the guard saw at the Duluth Air National Guard Base turned out to be a black bear!
In 1967, the supersonic Convair F-102A Delta Dagger replaced the squadron's F-89J. The McDonnell F-101B Voodoo came aboard in April 1971 and remained until January 1976 when the unit was re-designated, becoming the 179th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron with McDonnell RF-4C Phantom II Mach-2 unarmed reconnaissance aircraft. Its new mission entailed all weather, high or low altitude, day or night, reconnaissance. This mission also required the unit to have the capability to deploy to a wide variety of operating locations. In October 1983, the mission changed again and the 179th returned to air defense becoming the 179th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. The return to alert and air defense was accompanied by the Mc Donnell F-4D Phantom II tactical fighter, most of the unit's aircraft being veterans of the Vietnam War.

 
Lockheed F-94B Starfire 1954-1957
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / DR)
Northrop F-89J Scorpion 1959-1966
(Coll Denis Eusicom / DR)
Convair F-102A Delta Dagger 1966-1971
(Coll Denis Eusicom / DR)
Mc Donnell F-101B Voodoo 1971-1976
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / DR)
Mc Donnell RF-4C Phantom II 1976-1983
(Coll Denis Eusicom / DR)
Mc Donnell F-4D Phantom II 1983-1990
(Coll Serge Van Heertum / DR)
 
Modern era

On March 10th, 1990 the 179th Squadron received the first variants of the General Dynamics F-16A Fighting Falcon air defense fighter to take over for the F-4D. The early F-16 markings included "Duluth" on a tail stripe as well as an image of the Big Dipper constellation. On March 17th, 1992 the 179th was renamed as 179th Fighter Squadron. A few years later, in October 1995, the unit was tasked with maintaining a detachment (Detachment 1, 148th Fighter Wing), which maintained alert status at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida.
To fit the needs of a shrinking air force, the squadron dropped the air superiority role and became a general purpose tactical fighter squadron. Already proficient in the air-to-air mission, the 179th had to be brought up to speed with both using guided and unguided bombs. Live bombs were dropped for the first time in March 2000 during a training exercise. Due to the role change, the squadron's base facilities also had to be renovated.
On September 11th, 2001, the squadron became very busy as a result of the attack on the two World Trade Center towers in New York City. As an immediate aftermath, the 148th was again tasked with air defense, providing combat air patrols U.S. capital and New York City, and with deploying personnel and aircraft back to its detached alert facility at Tyndall.
Towards the end of 2003 the "Bulldogs" began conversion to the F-16C/D block 25. Most F-16A/Bs was retired straight to the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center. During the course of the conversion, Detachment 1 at Tyndall was discontinued. With the newer Fighting Falcons, the squadron began combat deployments, sometimes operating as an expeditionary fighter squadron. As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 179th was one of the first F-16 units to be based in Balad Air Base, Iraq. The 179th deployed more than 200 personnel between April and June 2005. The squadron was tasked with both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations. Another deployment to Balad was set up between September and December 2008.
Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General Norton Schwartz announced that the 179th Fighter Squadron was the winner of the 2008 Raytheon Trophy for its accomplishments in fiscal year 2008.
The Raytheon Trophy, formerly known as the Hughes Trophy is awarded for outstanding performance to an Air Force or Air National Guard fighter unit with a mission in air defense or air superiority. Units are judged on performance in the air defense or air superiority mission, exercise participation, inspection results, squadron and/or individual accomplishments.
In addition to an "Excellent" Phase II Operational Readiness Inspection and "Mission Ready" Alert Force Evaluation rating, the 148th deployed in support of Operation "Noble Eagle" and "Iraqi Freedom" reason for the procurement of this prestigious trophy.
On 27 April 2010 the squadron began another conversion being the first Air National Guard unit to operate the block 50 F-16C/D when five aircraft arrived from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany when 22nd and 23rd Fighter Squadrons at Spangdahlem were replaced by the 480th Fighter Squadron, with the surplus aircraft going to the 179th FS. The majority of the blocks 25's were sent to retirement at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
Shortly after the training was completed on the new Block 50, the 148th was called to their fourth deployment since the beginning of 2005. This was the first deployment to Afghanistan for the unit. Between August 13th, 2012 to October 25th, 2012 300 airmen were able to achieve 100% mission success again.
In 2014 the 179 FS deployed to Europe for multinational exercises.
The squadron participated in 2015 to different large exercises like "Sentry Savannah", "Combat Hammer" and "Red Flag-Alaska" permitting to say that the "Bulldogs" are always ready to take the fight downrange whenever called upon.
The 147 FW / 179 FS continue to be deployed in different countries as an expeditionary unit; the last deployment was performed between March 29th and April 15th at Leeuwarden air base in the Netherland for the multinational exercise "Frisian Flag".
Over the years, the men and women who have called the Duluth Air National Guard base their home, have proudly served their country with outstanding success, and will continue to be a huge influence on the military history of the upper Great Lakes area.
Cave Canum! (Beware of the Dog!)

 
General Dynamics F-16A/B Fighting Falcon 1990-2002
(Coll Denis Eusicom / DR)
Note the marking changes from the Stars to the MN code 
between the A model and the C block 25 model
(courtesy 148 FW / 179 FS ©)
Lockheed-Martin General Dynamics F-16C/D Block 25 Fighting Falcon 2002-2010
(courtesy 148 FW / 179 FS ©)
"Iraqi Freedom" from April 2005 to June 2005
(courtesy 148 FW / 179 FS ©)
 
War Deployments:

"Iraqi Freedom" Balad AB, Iraq (April 2005 to June 2005)
The 179th was one of the first F-16 unit to be based in Balad. The 179th deployed more than 200 personnel over those three months. The squadron was mainly tasked with air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations.

"Iraqi Freedom" Balad AB, Iraq (January 19th, 2007 to May 18th, 2007)
This was a rainbow deployment with F-16's from both the 111th and 127th FS also participating in this mission.

"Iraqi Freedom" Balad AB, Iraq (September 18th, 2008 to January 11th, 2009)
Another deployment to Balad AB was set up in 2008. The task was the same, conducting air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operations against insurgents

"Enduring Freedom" Kandahar AB, Afghanistan (August 13th, 2012 to October 25th, 2012)
This marked the first mission since the squadron reached IOC on their "new" block 50 airframes.

 
 During a deployment with the F-22 of Elmendorf AFB in 2008
(Courtesy USAF Lt. Col. Kevin Peterson ©)
"Iraqi Freedom" in 2008
(courtesy 148 FW / 179 FS ©)
In 2010, the block 50's were delivered to the 179 FS
from former Spangdalhem squadrons
(courtesy 148 FW / 179 FS ©)
Lockheed-Martin General Dynamics F-16C/D Block 50 Fighting Falcon 2010-Today
(courtesy 148 FW / 179 FS ©)
 
Aircraft Tail Markings:

1990 - 2003

In the early "Falcon" days with the A/B-models flown the tail markings consisted of a blue tail band with "Duluth" titles in white stenciling. Seven blue stars adorned the middle of the tail section with the serial beneath it. The seven stars in fact represented "Ursa Minor", but this is actually better known as the "Little Dipper". The top star represents Polaris, better known as the North Star. This constellation on the tail represented Minnesota's nickname, "The North Star State".

2003 - 2007

Together with the introduction of the C/D block 25 models the tail code standard was introduced with "MN" for Minnesota, replacing the "Little Dipper" stars on the tail. The tail band, serial and logo remained the same.

2007 - Today

As from 2007 onwards the design was altered to incorporate the units' mascot, the Bulldog. This replaced the "MN" tail code. The blue tail band with "Duluth" stenciling is still present as well is the serial. It took up to 2009 before all jets were repainted. The 179 FS wears now the "Have Glass V" paint. The "Have Glass V" covered RAM treatment of the inlet duct and on other elements of the airframe, addition of a metalized gold canopy and foam behind the radar antenna.

Have Glass consisted of:
Pacer Mud radar signature reduction; included creation of FMS-3049 RAM.
Pacer Gem infrared signature reduction; created FMS-2026 top coat paint.
The RAM covers about 60% of the F-16's structure in 10-12 millimeter thickness adding around 100kg to aircraft weight.

 
"Have Glass V" above the clouds
(courtesy 148 FW / 179 FS ©)
 
Important dates:

26/03/1943 393rd Fighter Squadron constitution
15/07/1943 393rd Fighter Squadron activation
07/11/1945 393rd Fighter Squadron deactivation
24/05/1946 Redesigned 179th Fighter Squadron and allotted to the National Guard
17/09/1948 Extended to the federal recognition
01/03/1951 Federalized and placed on active duty (Korean War)0
23/03/1951 Redesigned 179th Fighter Interceptor Squadron
01/12/1952 Inactivated and returned to Minnesota state control
01/01/1953 Reactivated as Minnesota ANG
10/01/1976 Redesigned 179th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
15/11/1983 Redesigned 179th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
17/03/1992 Redesigned 179th Fighter Squadron

Aircraft:

Bell P-39 Airacobra 1943-1944
Lockheed P-38J Lightning 1944-1945
Republic P-47N Thunderbolt 1945
North American F-51D Mustang 1948-1954
Lockheed F-94B Starfire 1954-1957
Northrop F-89C Scorpion 1957-1959
Northrop F-89J Scorpion 1959-1966
Convair F-102A Delta Dagger 1966-1971
Mc Donnell F-101B Voodoo 1971-1976
Mc Donnell RF-4C Phantom II 1976-1983
Mc Donnell F-4D Phantom II 1983-1990
General Dynamics F-16A/B Fighting Falcon 1990-2002
Lockheed-Martin F-16C/D Block 25 Fighting Falcon 2002-2010
Lockheed-Martin F-16C/D Block 50 Fighting Falcon 2010-Today

Airbases:
Hamilton Field, California USA 15/07/1943
Santa Rosa Army Air Field, California USA 11/10/1943
Oakland Municipal Airport, California USA 10/12/1943 until 08/03/1944
RAF Stoney Cross (AAF-452) UK 05/04/1944
RAF Ibsley (AAF-347) UK 06/07/1944
Beuzeville Airfield (A-6) FR 22/07/1944
Cricqueville Airfield (A-2) FR 14/08/1944
Peray Airfield (A-44) FR 04/09/1944
Clastres Airfield (A-71) FR 08/09/1944
Juvincourt Airfield (A-68) FR 28/10/1944
Saint-Dizier Airfield (A-64) FR 01/02/1945
Conflans Airfield (A-94) FR 14/03/1945
Eschborn Airfield (Y-74) GE 20/04/1945 until July 1945
Seymour Johnson Field, North Carolina USA 02/11/1945 until 07/11/1945
Duluth Municipal Airport Minnesota USA 17/09/1948 until today

 
 
 
91-391 is shown loaded for a SEAD mission with a pair of AGM-88's and an AN/ASQ-213 HTS pod in addition to an AN/ALQ-184 long pod for electronic self-protection, a 3 x AIM-120C 1 x AIM-9X air-to-air missile loadout for Defensive Counter Air, and a pair of 370 gallon external tanks in addition to her internal 20mm cannon and standard Chaff/Flare dispensers. (Drawing via web / DR)
 
(Pierre Taquet©) (Raytheon media©)
 
The AN/ALQ-184 Electronic Attack Pod provides self-protection for the F-16 combat aircraft and crew in a complex radar guided threat environment. Built by Raytheon E-Systems for the Air Force, the AN/ALQ-184 protects aircraft against radio frequency threats by selectively directing high power jamming against multiple emitters. In 1995 Raytheon's Goleta, California, electronic warfare operation, which builds the AN/ALQ-184, was combined with the company's E-Systems division.
Between 1989 and 1996 Raytheon delivered more than 850 pods to the US Air Force, including a 1993 award for 78 pods. During 1996 the US Air Force awarded contracts totaling $28 million to upgrade and improve the AN/ALQ-184 electronic countermeasures pod, bringing total value of that program since its inception to more than $1.2 billion. In April 1996 the US Air Force awarded Raytheon E-Systems a $5.2 million contract for the ALQ-184(V)9 Pod Program, under which Raytheon will modify ten pods to incorporate two previously stand-alone self- protection systems. This integrated system will be produced by installing the AN/ALE-50 Towed RF Decoy into the AN/ALQ-184 ECM Pod. Additional modifications will enhance the combined performance of the pod and decoy. The modification provides the US Air Force with the most capable full-band self-defense suite available today. The system can be installed on nearly all tactical aircraft, with no changes to the airplane and will add a measure of effectiveness not available elsewhere. The ALQ-184(V9) production program continues the integration of the ALE-50 towed decoy system in a 3-band ALQ-184(V9) ECM pod. The ALE-50 towed decoy system cannot be carried on F-16 Block 25/30 aircraft without this modification.
 
 
Leeuwarden 2019
 







AF91-341 & AF91-410 were missing during our report
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
(179 FS via FB) (Anthony Graulus©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (USAFE 100 ARW© via FB))
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Anthony Graulus©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Anthony Graulus©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 

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