‘MiG Killer’ F-16D Has Been Given A New Retro Camouflage Color Scheme

Seen on landing at Luke AFB, the F-16D 90-0778 with the new paint scheme (All images: Thomas "Taj" Backus)

The aircraft that scored the first aerial victory by an American F-16 as well as the first kill for the AIM-120 AMRAAM, now sports a desert brown color scheme.

The F-16D Block 42 #90-0778 is a pretty famous aircraft: on Dec. 27, 1992, during Operation Southern Watch (OSW), using callsign “BENJI 41” and flown by Capt. Gary “Nordo” North, this two-seater Fighting Falcon assigned to the 19th FS (Fighter Squadron) but on loan to the 33rd FS deployed to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, from Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, shot down an Iraqi MiG-25 Foxbat E jet that had flown south of the 33rd parallel, entering the NFZ (No Fly Zone) enforced following the United Nations Security Council Resolution 688, adopted on Apr. 5, 1991.

That kill marked the first by a U.S. F-16 as well as the first achieved using an AIM-120 AMRAAM (Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile) “Slammer”.

A MiG-25 kill marking was placed on the left side just below the canopy frame of #90-0778 that sported the traditional two-tone gray color scheme of all the U.S. Air Force “Vipers” (the F-16’s nickname) at the time of the aerial engagement.

The very same aircraft, currently in service with the 310th FS at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, has recently been given a completely new paint scheme as the photos in this article, sent us by our friend Thomas “Taj” Backus, show. The new livery seems to be based on the “chocolate chip cookie” pattern, a type of experimental desert color scheme that was applied to the F-16C Block 25 #84-1212 in December 1990, during Operation Desert Shield, as the aircraft, assigned to the 33rd TFS (Tactical Fighter Squadron), from Shaw AFB, and deployed to Al Dhafra AB, UAE.

F-16D MiG-killer on final at Luke AFB on Jun. 9, 2022.
Another shot of the MiG-killer

According to some sources, the F-16C flew with the experimental color scheme for just one week: the desert livery made the jet difficult to spot, increasing the risk of mid-airs and resembled the one used by the Israeli Air Force Vipers. For these reasons, it was quickly dropped. Until today: the old experimental camouflage has been “revived” and used on a MiG-killer airframe with markings that celebrate the Dec. 27, 1992 downing during Operation Southern Watch.

F-16D 90-0778 landing at Luke AFB.
For comparison, this is 90-0778 with the previous paint scheme.


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.