A look at the first Air National Guard unit destined to transition from the F-16 to the F-35

Dec 22 2014 - 9 Comments
By Todd Miller

A look at the F-16s of “The Green Mountain Boys”, the first Air National Guard unit destined to receive the F-35.

The 134th Fighter Squadron of the Vermont ANG (Air National Guard) based at Burlington, VT, is well known as ” The Green Mountain Boys.”

This ANG squadron, flying 18 F-16C/D Block 30s is part of the 158th Fighter Wing, and will be the first ANG group to operate the F-35.

The transition, announced about a year ago and not to commence until about 2020, was granted in spite of a local controversy (some were concerned that the 18 incoming F-35s would be significantly louder than the current F-16s). It’s no small honor to be chosen as the first ANG base to transition to the new aircraft, and certainly speaks to the role and past performance of the squadron.

The images in this post depict with the 134th FS F-16C Block 30s on a typical training day carrying a standard load out made of an air-to-air complement for long-range air intercepts with tanks for extended range, as well as a LITENING target pod.

The 158th FW has demonstrated a consistently high degree of professionalism and success, having earned the U.S. Air Force outstanding unit award in 2014, the third time the distinction has been earned in the last 10 years.

F-16 Vermont side

The 134th FS has historically been tasked to support NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) with aircraft in proximity to intercept threats in or approaching in North American airspace.

As such, these Green Mountain Boys might be some of the first aircraft (as well as CF-188s from the Royal Canadian Air Force) to intercept Russian aircraft off the east coast; given Russia’s current posturing this is likely to take place a number of times in the coming year.

Beyond the historical participation in NORAD, the unit is a member of the Air Combat Command (ACC), and most recently is participating in the Air Force Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) structure. The last number of years the unit has seen multiple deployments to the Middle East and has participated in a number of overseas deployments including Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

F-16 VT takeoff

This critical role played by the AEF associated units require a high level of proficiency. To ensure readiness and seamless integration with other military aviation units the 134th FS is scheduled to participate in the first week of Red Flag 15-1 held Jan. 26 – Feb. 13 at Nellis AFB.

Given the positioning of the squadron and the tasking of USAF assets, the unique markings of the Green Mountain Boys may be seen in virtually any global neighborhood.

Todd Miller lives in MD, US where he is an Executive at a Sustainable Cement Technology Company in the USA. When not working, Todd is an avid photographer of military aircraft and content contributor.

 

  • Scott Btron

    I saw two of them a few years ago while camping in Maine not far off the ground going through the mountains, very cool!

  • Wow, I was not expecting to see ANG units receiving the F-35 until much later than 2020.

    • Dave Hilling

      National Guard units do a lot of the air defense patrols over the US… there will probably be a couple others that get them in the years following.

      • Chris Dickinson

        The *Air* National Guard do all the air defense patrols over America.

  • Kevin

    Now I’m curious why the 174th FW was forced to remove their “the boys from Syracuse” title years ago and yet the 134th are still known as “the Green Mountain Boys”

  • oldthudman

    Vermont?……….Why……….Seems the coast line bases should get them first……….I don’t think Canada is going to invade the USA just yet…………..

    • action

      haha New England is so small that even though Burlington its not “coastal” is closer to the ocean than many air bases in coastal states. and it is not the Canadians we are worried about, its the people that will fly over Canada to get to us that we are worried about.

  • action

    And the ANG also has the most experienced aircraft maintenance in the world because the technicians can work on the same aircraft for up to 30 years whereas in active duty most people don’t spend more than 10 years actually touching an aircraft as they move to supervisory roles.