The aircraft, serial 90-0709, has just returned home from SABCA Charleroi plant.
On Jun. 30, 2020, the first F-16CM of the 31st Fighter Wing, the airframe 90-0709, assigned to the 510th Fighter Squadron “Buzzards”, has landed at Aviano Air Base, in northeastern Italy.
The aircraft has been given the new Have Glass V, or “Have Glass 5th generation”, the evolution of the standard Have Glass program that saw all the F-16s receiving a two-tone grey color scheme made with a special radar-absorbing paint capable to reduce the aircraft Radar Cross Section. Indeed, all “Vipers” are covered with RAM (Radar Absorbent Material) made of microscopic metal grains that can degrade the radar signature of the aircraft. The Have Glass V is the latest version of the special paint, somehow similart to the one of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter that has been applied to U.S. F-16s since at least 2012 when it started to appear on the F-16CM (formerly CJ) Block 50 Fighting Falcon aircraft.
Many Squadrons, including the 64th AGRS (Aggressor Squadron) at Nellis Air Force Base, the South Dakota ANG 175th Fighter Squadron and 85th TES at Eglin AFB, Florida, fly or have flown Vipers painted with the new darker color scheme. Some (as this one from the 149th Fighter Wing, Texas Air National Guard) sport a slightly modified variant of the Have Glass V, with a have a darker radome and the two-letter tail code, serial number and squadron markings black in color, instead of light grey.
The F-16 was given the new paint scheme by SABCA Charleroi plant, Belgium, the company responsible for Depot-level maintenance and upgrade of F-16 aircraft serving with nine different operators around the world. In fact, beside the continuous support to Belgium’s and other European’s F-16 fleets, SABCA ensures the Depot-Level MRO of the USAF F-16 operated in the European theatre.
Aviano AB has hosted its first ever Elephant Walk on Jun. 1, 2020, which included two dozen F-16s belonging to the 510th Fighter Squadron and 555th Fighter Squadron, along with two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters of the 56th Rescue Squadron (plus one acting as a camera ship).