On 27th September 2022, a F-16 Fighting Falcon Block 50 fighter aircraft, currently being based at Misawa Air Base, reached a milestone of 10,000 flying hours. The Viper from Misawa was the second Block 50 jet to achieve that impressive accomplishment, and the third overall F-16 in the United States Air Force.
The aircraft that clocked over the 10,000 flying hours last week, was the ´913´, currently assigned to the 13th Fighter Squadron, 35th Operations Group of the 35th Fighter Wing. The milestone flight was performed by Lt. Col. Jordan Kahn, commander of the 13th FS.
Airfield in Misawa, located in the northern part of Honshu Island, is a joint air base of the Japan Air Self-Defence Force, the USAF and the US Navy. The base includes the Pacific Air Forces facilities and is the home of the 35th Fighter Wing and its two fighter squadrons, equipped with the F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.
The 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron was activated on 2nd May 1966, then being a part of the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing and equipped with F-105 Thunderchief and F-4D Phantom II aircraft. Shortly after achieving the combat ready status, the Squadron took part in the Vietnam War.
In 1971, the 13th Squadron adopted a panther as its mascot, nicknamed ´Eldridge´, after one of its pilots. On 15th August 1985, with its approval by the USAF, the black panther became the official emblem of the unit. According to the Squadron´s statement, the panther symbolizes the lightning quick reaction to aggression, while the number 13 honours members of the squadron who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.
The 13th Squadron is operating from Misawa air base since June of 1985. Over the next years, the unit was many times deployed for combat missions, including Afghanistan, Iraq and Jordan. In 1996 the tail code of the Squadron was changed from ´MJ´ to ´WW´, honouring the unit´s contribution in the Vietnam War and the ´Wild Weasel´ combat missions performed by the 13th Squadron during that conflict.
Cover photo: A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon assigned to the 13th Fighter Squadron (FS) gets inspected on the flight line before taking off to reach its 10,000 flight hour milestone at Misawa Air Base, Japan, Sept. 27, 2022. (USAF photo by Sr. Airman Leon Redfern). All photos © U.S. Department of Defence (DoD). DoD information materials were used, in compliance with Public Domain licence. The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement.