Sinister Black Aggressor Livery Won in Social Media Vote, Ready for Aviation Nation.
The newest aggressor F-16 in the 57th Fighter Wing at Nellis AFB outside Las Vegas, Nevada, was unveiled on Tuesday, Oct. 29, by the 57th Fighter Wing Commander and on the official Nellis AFB Facebook page.
The aircraft and its paint scheme are unique for a number of reasons. The final choice of the all-black with red adversary markings was selected from a voting process done on the Facebook page of USAF Brig. Gen. Robert G. Novotny, commander of the 57th Wing at Nellis. Brig. Gen. Novotny effectively leveraged social media to promote the voting between several different paint schemes and to build excitement about the project that included many USAF personnel at Nellis AFB.
The final paint scheme was named “WRAITH” after a, “ghostlike image of someone, especially one seen shortly before or after their death” according to yesterday’s reveal video.
The aircraft painted in the new “Wraith” aggressor paint scheme was aircraft number 48, an F-16C Block 42. This F-16 was already in Air Force inventory, but is new to the 57th Wing’s 57th Adversary Tactics Group (57th ATG). The 57th ATG contains the 64th Aggressor Squadron, to which the new “Wraith” F-16C Block 42 is attached.
While social media and voting played the predominant role in selecting the aircraft’s new paint scheme under the guidance of Brig. Gen. Robert G. Novotny, it’s reasonable to suggest that at least some of the interesting new livery was influenced by Russian aircraft.
Photos of a Russian two-seat MiG-29 in an all-black livery wearing bort (nose) number “139” have been circulating on the internet since late 2018 after the aircraft was spotted at Zhukovsky Air Field southwest of Moscow. The photos began surfacing most prominently on the website, “Russian Planes.net” and appear to be taken from a popular spotting location atop a berm outside the perimeter fence at Zhukovsky or from the popular “heat pipes” photography location at Zhukovsky.
The all-black, two seat MiG-29/35 was possibly a testbed or complete rebuild to MiG-35 standard. Although this specific MiG-29/35 in the all-black paint scheme was missing from this year’s MAKS Aviasalon Airshow, another MiG-35 (or perhaps the same airframe, just repainted for the show) in a promotional black and blue livery was used to promote the aircraft for export sales. During the show, Russian President Vladimir Putin was seen showing Turkish President Recep Erdoğan the new MiG-35 as a possible alternative to his previous proposed purchase of U.S. built F-35s. Since the black livery super-MiG is being promoted for export it makes the painting of the new 57th Adversary Tactics Group F-16 even more relevant.
The new WRAITH F-16C Block 42 will be on display at the upcoming Aviation Nation 2019 Airshow at Nellis AFB on November 16 & 17 just outside Las Vegas. The show is one of the most dynamic and unique military airshows in the world, featuring an unrivaled air power demonstration with both air-to-air and air-to-ground elements. There have also been rumors of the new WRAITH F-16C racing against a Lamborghini sports car as part of the aircraft’s demonstration during the airshow.