Alabama ANG Continues Red Tail Legacy With F-35


F-35 Red Tail
The Red Tail of the new 187th Fighter Wing’s F-35 flagship. (Photo: 187th FW)

The Alabama ANG recently received its first F-35 jets, and the flagship has been applied a red tail honoring the Tuskegee Airmen legacy.

The Alabama Air National Guard’s 187th Fighter Wing applied its traditional red tail on one of the new F-35 aircraft it recently received, honoring the Red Tails legacy of the WW2 Tuskegee Airmen. The unit received its first three F-35s in December, becoming the third Guard unit to transition to the 5th gen aircraft. To date, this is the first time an operational U.S. Air Force F-35 has been applied a colored livery, other than the Aggressors’ F-35s at Nellis AFB.

Dannelly Field, near Montgomery, home of the 187th FW, was selected to get F-35s in 2017, and construction on new facilities began four years later. The wing formally began the conversion process in March 2023, as pilots and maintainers were embedded in other F-35 units around the country to learn to fly and maintain their new aircraft.

Shortly after the arrival of the first aircraft, the unit teased on Facebook what’s going to happen, posting a photo of an airbrush and a can of red paint near the aircraft that was chosen to become the new unit’s flagship. A month later, the 187th FW posted on Facebook photos of the same F-35 with its new red tail and the flagship insignia.

The unit will receive a total of 20 F-35s over the next five years, with the full operational capability planned for 2026. The 187th FW Wing joins the Vermont ANG’s 158th Fighter Wing and Wisconsin ANG’s 115th Fighter Wing as the only Guard units flying the F-35.

Stefano D’Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he’s also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.


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