New F-16C Aggressor Color Livery (Dubbed “BDU Splinter”) Unveiled at Eielson Air Force Base

Oct 08 2017 - 11 Comments
By Tom Demerly

F-16C Block 30 from 18th Aggressor Squadron Debuts in New Splinter-Euro/Southeast Asia Style Camo.

A photo shared on the Eielson Air Force Base official Facebook page early on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 showed a recently repainted F-16C Block 30 belonging to the 18th Aggressor Squadron with a new and unusual paint scheme.

The new paint scheme mimics colors seen in both the “European One” and older Southeast Asia camouflage schemes. There appear to be either four or three colors on the aircraft. Possibly either one or two shades of green, a tan shade and flat black. The aircraft is dubbed “BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) Splinter”, a type of camouflage used on combat trousers and jackets.

Colors for the new F-16 aggressor seem to be inspired by both the European One paint scheme and the older Vietnam-era Southeast Asian camouflage but with the new square-edged “splinter” pattern. (Photo: USAF/TheAviationist.com)

The pattern is interesting since it is not a rounded or feathered transition from color to color like the older Southeast Asia camouflage seen in the Vietnam era or the Cold War, but a splinter pattern seen on recent Russian aircraft. The Aggressors often mimic Russian adversaries in training with U.S. and other western aircraft.

The new paint scheme of this 18th Aggressor F-16 debuted in this group photo with the Air Force Academy ice hockey team during a visit to Alaska. (Image: USAF)

Airman Eric M. Fisher of the 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office wrote in August that, “Eielson houses more than 20 F-16s. These aircraft are used by the 18th Aggressor Squadron to provide critical combat training to pilots around the globe. Due to their goal of threat replication, the 18th AGRS aircraft are painted to match that of possible enemy fighter aircraft.”

Airman Fisher went on to say the 18th AGRS has been flying opposing forces (OPFOR) simulation for over 20 years. It is worth noting that, as with this new F-16 paint scheme, the color schemes on the Eielson aggressors have changed as actual threat color schemes have changed in the real world.

The newly painted aircraft was shown in photos with the U.S. Air Force Academy Hockey Team as they visited Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks, Alaska to play the UAF Nanooks hockey team. Little was mentioned of the aircraft or its new paint scheme in the social media post.

The aircraft became famous thanks to a photo taken on Jul. 31, 2017 and showing the aircraft, serial 86-0295, assigned to the 18th Aggressor Squadron with a brand new overall black livery. Even though it initially seemed that the 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 it was almost immediately explained that the F-16 was a half-finished paint scheme, rushed into service to take part in Red Flag Alaska.

The F-16C in its previous, temporary, overall black color scheme. (USAF)

Hopefully more photos of this new paint scheme surface soon and we will see aircraft profile artists like Ugo Crisponi, Mads Bangso and Ryan Dorling among others making color profile prints of this new Alaska Aggressor.

Thank you to Pierpaolo Maglio for providing additional details about the BDU Splinter.

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  • leroy

    Cool looking paint scheme no doubt, but you wouldn’t want it because black absorbs heat from the Sun, which would help it light up infra-red tracking systems like Russian aircraft’ IRST or perhaps even infrared homing seekers found on various A-A missiles. You want to keep your IR signature as low as possible.

    • Tom Demerly

      Hmmm. Valid point. Good observation.

      • vantguard

        Exhaust gas temp. at nozzle= 1000 to 1200 c°.
        Sunlighted aircraft= 50 to 60 c°.

  • BehindEL

    Sweet livery. Although the all black pre-coat looked pretty sinister!

  • leroy

    Night or high-fliers . But if I’m below, say, 5K feet, I want my paint scheme to provide camouflage but also keep my IR signature as low as possible. Would patches of black kill a plane? I don’t think it helps, and there are lots of better color schemes.

    Obviously the lighter the pigment the lower the heat absorption. I don’t know – maybe unless you are operating in far Northern latitudes with lots of snow it might be useable. Or like I said – night or high altitude.

    The reason BDUs were axed btw was because the black blotches in them gave soldiers positions away to infrared scopes.

    • El Kabong

      Or flying at night…. Like say, the F-16C-40/42’s do…. ;-)

    • vantguard

      ” I don’t know – “. Just stop here.

      • leroy

        Black absorbs all the colors in the spectrum, thus, a black colored object will have higher heat absorption. Given the increasing sensitivity (as evidenced by greater detection ranges) or IRST systems, DAS, do you really think it makes good tactical sense to have any part of a fighter colored black?

        Maybe it doesn’t make a difference, but I’d say better to keep the color less heat absorbent. But hey, if I’m totally off-base, show me any work (with a citation please) that says so.

    • El Kabong

      Like the F-16C/D-40/42’s that are tasked for night attack? ;-)

      The BDU’s were visible on NVG’s.
      The pixellation is what helps.
      There’s black in the USMC MARPAT.

      • leroy

        That’s right – night vision goggles. For some reason I couldn’t remember that term (NVG). Or as we commonly called it in the military – I had a brain fart. Thankfully, for me, they’re rare! : )

        Yes on the MARPAT, but it’s less pronounced than the BDUs. BTW – I loved the look of BDUs. I still have all mine, but they must’a shrunk because the waist on ’em is a little tight. : (

  • James Goodwin

    I would love to see in the Udvar Hazy a F-16C painted in black with red lettering! Equally nice would be for the AF to donate a T-38C painted in black with red lettering from Langley AFB.