After 18 months of restoration, an F-16C that formerly performed with the Air Force’s Thunderbirds flight demonstration squadron now sits on permanent display outside the Thunderbirds Museum at Nellis AFB, Nev. The retired aircraft, tail number 87-0323, carries the Thunderbirds’ paint scheme as it appeared for the 1992 show season—this F-16’s first season in the squadron. It flew with the unit through 2008. Maintainers at Nellis spent 360 man hours preparing the F-16 for display, removing some $5 million in reusable parts, in addition to restoration and paint work. Since the Thunderbirds are away from Nellis much of the year, the static display will allow visitors to the team’s hangar and museum the opportunity to view a Thunderbirds aircraft year-round. The Thunderbirds transitioned from the F-16A/B in 1991 to the F-16C/D for their 1992 season, according to Nellis officials. (Nellis release)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.