U.S. Airmen with the Indiana Air National Guard load a GBU-38 bomb onto an A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft during an Integrated Combat Turn (ICT) maneuver July 13, 2022. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Kathleen LaCorte)
The 122nd Fighter Wing in Fort Wayne has been officially approved for conversion to the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft under passage of the National Defense Authorization Act.
The move sets events in motion to replace the 122nd FW’s 21 A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft with the F-16, a news release said.
“We look forward to transitioning to the F-16 aircraft at the 122nd Fighter Wing. This newer more versatile aircraft will provide for an increase in combat capability against growing threats. The men and women of the 122nd Fighter Wing are experts at supporting, maintaining and operating fighter aircraft,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Stohler, commander of the Indiana Air National Guard. “This transition will provide them with longevity and the high probability to later upgrade to the future generation of fighter aircraft.”
“Conversion to the F-16 will allow the 122nd to build upon past successes and continue to pass the trials of the national defense strategy in new ways, long into the future,” said Col. Joshua C. Waggoner, 122nd Fighter Wing Commander. “Since conversion to the F-16 was first proposed more than five years ago the 122nd has continuously worked to be poised and ready when given the opportunity. There will be a lot of changes and challenges, but our professional Airmen are prepared.”
It isn’t the first time F-16’s come to Fort Wayne. The 122nd Fighter Wing flew the F-16 Fighting Falcon for nearly two decades, including multiple overseas and combat deployments. They were a familiar sight at the Fort Wayne Air National Guard base and in the skies above Fort Wayne from 1991 to 2010.
“The F-16 will increase the combat capability for the Blacksnakes of the 122nd, ensure that we stay in the fight further into the future and give our Airmen the knowledge, skills, and capabilities for an easier transition to the more complex missions and weapons systems needed to dominate modern threats,” said Waggoner. “The A-10 had unrivaled capabilities for the wars of the last 40 years and our record as Blacksnakes proves that point. To win future conflicts, we need new aircraft that provide different effects on the battlefield. The F-16 will prepare the men and women of the 122nd to find the same success in the future that we established as our standard in the past.”
The A-10 Thunderbolt II has played an important role in the long-standing Blacksnake tradition of keeping “Fighters in the Fort” and they will not be soon forgotten as the 122nd FW passes the torch to other units where they will continue to support national defense initiatives.
“Although some of the oldest planes will be retired, most of our A-10s will be transferred to other units and continue to provide decisive fire power to combatant commanders around the globe,” said Waggoner.
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