The F-16 with the new special-colored tail has flown for the first time from Aviano Air Base.
The 510th Fighter Squadron of the 31st Fighter Wing, based at Aviano AB, Italy, has a new flagship aircraft: the F-16CM #89-2030 sports a new special tail that celebrates the 80th anniversary of the “Buzzards”. The aircraft flew for the first time with the new livery for a local sortie on Mar. 20, 2023.
The tail is adorned with motto (“Buzzards rule”), colors (purple and black) and mascot of the unit (Buzz), along with the text “510th FS” and “est. 1943”. Interestingly, the special tail also features other elements that are part of the unit’s emblem, as the three lightning bolts and the globe, that indicate the capability of powerful attacks worldwide.
Currently flying air and space control and force application roles of counterair, strategic attack, and counterland including interdiction and close-air support with 21 F-16CMs, the 510th Fighter Squadron was originally formed as the 625th Bombardment Squadron (Dive), 405th Bombardment Group, at Drew Field, Fla., in 1943, flying the Douglas A-24 Banshee. On Aug. 15, 1943, the 625th was renamed the 510th Fighter-Bomber Squadron.
Throughout its history, the squadron has operated from Walterboro Army Air Field, South Carolina, Christchurch, England, Picauville and St Dizier, France; Ophoven, Belgium; Kitzingen, Germany, Camp Kilmer, New Jersey; Godman AFB, Ky; Langley AFB, Va.; Clark AB, Philippines; England AFB, La.; Bien Hoa AB, Vietnam; RAF Bentwaters, England; Spangdahlem AB, Germany; and finally, from 1994, Aviano Air Base.
Since 1943, the 510th has flown the A–24 (1943); P–39 (1943); P–47 (1943–1945); F–84 (1953–1956); F–100 (1956–1958); F–100 (1959–1969); A–10 (1979–1994) and the F-16 since 1994.
According to the unit fact sheet, during 1993-1994, the 510th flew more than 1,700 combat sorties from Aviano AB, Italy, in support of Operation Deny Flight. In the skies over Bosnia-Herzegovina, the squadron became the infamous “Bosnia Buzzards”.
The 510th was inactivated in April 1994 and reactivated at Aviano AB, Italy, on July 1, 1994 as the 510th FS “Bosnia Buzzards” flying the General Dynamics/Lockheed F-16CG Viper. The Bosnia Buzzards, during Operation Deliberate Force, were the first F-16 Block 40 squadron to drop a Laser Guided Bomb. The unit was the first to use Night Vision Goggles in combat in an F-16 during Operation Deliberate Guard. The Bosnia Buzzards led the way by being one of the first F-16 units to become Forward Air Controllers (FAC-A), and were the first to employ as FAC-A’s in combat in the F-16.
In Operation Allied Force, the Buzzards flew more combat missions than any other F-16 squadron. Subsequently the “Balkan Buzzards” have expanded into an Expeditionary Air Force, the worldwide “Fightin’ Buzzards” and were the first Aviano fighter squadron to deploy to Operation Southern Watch in June 2000 and to Operation Northern Watch in June and December of 2001. In September to December 2002, the Buzzards returned to Operation Southern Watch and dropped 136,508 pounds of ordinance over Iraq to include the first GBU-31A JDAM in F-16 CG combat history.
The 510th FS has carried out multiple deployments to Afghanistan and in, 2011, has also taken part in the Air War over Libya. More recently, after the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014 and later of Ukraine in 2022 the Buzzards have often been involved in operations over Eastern Europe, deploying to Poland and Romania, and supporting NATO enhanced Air Policing.