US 163rd FS A 10C credit USAF 640Indiana's Thunderbolt II sunset

While A-10C Thunderbolt II aircraft from Indiana Air National Guard's 163rd Fighter Squadron are flown during the exercise Guardian Blitz right now, the unit has been officially approved for conversion to the F-16C/D Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft under passage of the National Defense Authorisation Act.

Currently some ten IN coded A-10Cs and more than 100 crewmembers perform most of their training at the Avon Park Air Force Range (FL). The exercise Guardian Blitz, mostly carried out at the Avon bombing range, in combination with the Florida facilities at MacDill AFB and Moody AFB, this could well be the last large exercise with their Thunderbolt IIs.

According to the latest NDAA, some twenty A-10Cs will be phased out. Those aircraft will eventually come from different units. The 163rd Fighter Squadron Blacksnakes, part of the 122nd Fighter Wing, at Fort Wayne Air National Guard Base (IN) has been chosen to convert to the F-16C/D.

US 163rd FS Blacksnakes patch 320This is not the first time Fighting Falcons will be stationed at Fort Wayne. The unit flew the F-16 for nearly two decades, including multiple overseas and combat deployments.

They were a familiar sight in the skies above Indiana from 1991 to 2010. While the Blacksnakes will be converting to the F-16, it is expected that some of the oldest A-10Cs will be retired and some will be transferred to other units.

Photo via USAF

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