A U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron has been given a black color scheme. Inspired by the Chinese stealth jet or something else?
Update: According to Eielson AFB, the one sported by the aircraft is actually a half finished paint scheme. The aircraft will be given a splinter color scheme after RF-A.
The U.S. Air Force has just released some cool shots taken during RED FLAG-Alaska (RF-A) 17-3, underway at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.
Among these, the most interesting one was taken on Jul. 31, 2017 and shows a U.S. Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon aircraft, 86-0295, assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron: the aircraft, previously wearing the “arctic” Aggressors color scheme is now sporting a brand new overall black livery.
F-16C belonging to the 64th and 18th AGRS have been sporting different paint schemes for decades now. As reported last year, when the 64th AGRS unveiled a new “splinter” F-16 the purpose of these liveries is to make the Aggressor jets as similar as possible to the real threats and put the pilots in training against the Red Air in a similar situation to what they would see during an engagement with the opposing combat air forces.
“Exotic” paint jobs have become a distinguishing feature of U.S. Air Force Aggressors to make their fighter jets similar to a Russian 4th and 5th generation aircraft. However, the new, black livery might have been inspired by a Chinese aircraft: the Shenyang J-31 Falcon Eagle (or “FC-31 fifth Generation Multi-Purpose Medium Fighter”), China’s second stealth fighter jet.
Indeed, the first prototype of the aircraft, that performed its maiden flight on Oct 31, 2012, and made a public appearance on Nov. 12, 2014 at Zhuhai Airshow, was painted in a black color scheme somehow similar to the one recently applied to the F-16C of the 18th AGRS. This would probably be the first time the Aggressors give a Chinese-inspired color scheme to one of their aircraft.
Let us know what you think. Inspired by the J-31 or by something else?
H/T to our friennd @aircraftspots for the heads up! Top image credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson.