Happy Saturday, FighterSweep Faithful!
We wanted to start the weekend off right with a little Viper love, courtesy of the 310 FS “Tophats,” whose home station is Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Arizona. The Tophats are a Formal Training Unit, or “B-Course” squadron, equipped with the Block 42 variant of the Lockheed-Martin F-16C Fighting Falcon.
Originally constituted on 21 January, 1942, the 310th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) was activated 9 February, 1942, at Harding Field, Louisiana. The were originally equipped with the Bell P-39 Airacobra and Curtiss P-40 Warhawk aircraft. From November 1943 until March 1962, the 310th served throughout the Pacific theater of operations, supporting Allied units in World War II and Korea.
During that period of time, the squadron employed the P-47 Thunderbolt, F-84 Thunderjet, and F-86 Sabre. Inactivated at Osan Air Base in March of 1962, the unit was re-designated the 310th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron on 1 December, 1969, it was reactivated Luke Air Force Base. The 310 TFTS flew the A-7D Corsair until it transitioned to the mighty F-4 Phantom II in 1971, and then to the F-16 in 1982.
The unit took on its “Tophat” moniker in September of 1987, and converted to the new LANTIRN (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night) F-16CG, Block 42 aircraft in May of 1989. As the Air Force’s first and only full-up F-16 LANTIRN squadron, the 310th FS started formal course training in the new aircraft in July of 1989 and received its current 310th Fighter Squadron designation on 1 November 1991. In 1997, the Tophats were chosen to begin the USAF’s first F-16 Forward Air Controller-Airborne (FAC-A) curriculum, as well as training on Night Vision Goggles.

A Block 42 Lockheed-Martin F-16CM from the 310 FS "Tophats" takes off at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.
A Block 42 Lockheed-Martin F-16CM from the 310 FS “Tophats” takes off at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona.

To date, the squadron has earned two Distinguished Unit Citations, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Korea Presidential Citation and nine Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards.

We’ve seen a lot of these graduation videos and while all of them are pretty good, this one is rather exceptional and we think you’re going to enjoy it and share it around. We give our sincere congratulations to the Air Force’s 15 newest Viper Drivers! We have no doubt the graduates of Class 15 ABG will do great things in the Combat Air Forces and wish them the very best.
Tophats Rule! Dressed To Kill!
(Featured photo by Scott Wolff)