U.S. Air National Guard has reported that the last four F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft assigned to the 134th Fighter Squadron, 158th Fighter Wing, Burlington Air National Guard Base, taken off for the last time from the base during a “Viper Out” ceremony in South Burlington, Vt., on April 6.
The “Viper Out” ceremony commemorated 33 years of flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon at the 158th Fighter Wing. The Vermont Air National Guard is celebrating the heritage of the F-16, which arrived in Vermont in spring of 1986, and has been called to support the nation in several instances including, 122 consecutive days of combat air patrols over New York City after 9/11.
According to a statement, the F-16s are left the Vermont Air National Guard after 33 years of service for other locations ahead of F-35 Lightning IIs arriving later in 2019.
In recognition of merit, the Vermont Air National Guard was selected to receive the F-35 Lightning II stealth aircraft and its arrival is slated for this fall. In preparation for the arrival of support equipment and aircraft, the current flying mission is being divested to other Air National Guard units who will continue flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
The U. S. Air Force selected the 158th Fighter Wing in Burlington, Vermont, as the first Air National Guard unit to fly the Lightning II because of the ideal mixture of infrastructure to support operational training requirements of the jet, airspace and overall cost to the Air Force, according to Timothy Bridges, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Installations in a 2014 interview.
The 18 F-35A’s headed to the VT ANG will replace 18 F-16CM Fighting Falcons assigned to the 158th FW. This exchange will offer joint training opportunities with F-15C Eagles from Barnes Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, and the CF-18 Hornets at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville in Quebec.