Ladies and gents, boys and girls, welcome back to everyone’s favorite day of the week: Burner Friday! This week’s edition is brought to you by the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing, and their tenant 179th Fighter Squadron.
The Bulldogs reside in Duluth–at the far western tip of Lake Superior, and trace their roots back to 1948 when the 179 FS was formed and flying North American P-51 Mustangs. They saw their first combat when activated during the Korean War, and entered the jet age in 1954 when their F-94 Starfires arrived.
Though the Bulldogs have undergone several changes in mission and aircraft type over the years, they recently received the Block 50 F-16CJ, most of them coming from Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany as the 52nd Fighter Wing was reduced from two down to one squadron of Wild Weasels.
Along with the arrival of the Block 50 Vipers, the Bulldogs picked up the Weasel mission, joining the South Carolina’s 169th Fighter Wing as the only two dedicated SEAD/DEAD units in the Air National Guard.
Visiting Savannah’s Air Dominance Center for the Sentry Savannah exercise back in February, the Bulldogs were in town to check a bunch of containers and find some much-needed relief from the harsh Minnesota winter.
Although a number of their jets have been repainted into a dark gray finish – looking much like an F-35-style paint scheme – there are still a few Vipers that have yet to undergo the repaint. Our example today still sports the more traditional suit of clothes, and carries quite a loadout while hustling out of Savannah.
Along with a pair of inert GBU-12 Paveway II 500-pound laser-guided bombs, the jet is rocking two external fuel tanks, 2 dummy AIM-120 AMRAAMs, an AIM-9X Sidewinder, ACMI pod, as well as the ALQ-184 Electronic Countermeasures Pod. The jet also sports both the Sniper and HARM Targeting System pods.
This Bulldogs Viper is fully configured to be a lethal strike fighter – just as CW Lemoine says – able to fight its way in, deliver bombs on target, and then fight its way out. The squadron is currently deployed to Eielson AFB for a Red Flag-Alaska exercise, and we at FighterSweep certainly wish we could be there with them!