Happy (Wild) Weasel Wednesday, FighterSweep Fans! You know we have a very special affinity for this group of specialized aviators, and we cannot stress the importance of their SEAD/DEAD mission enough. Not only that, they’re just a fantastic group of guys and gals and we always have a good time when we’re hanging out and doing our thing. So today, we’re taking time to share with you the most recent deployment of the 13th Fighter Squadron “Panthers,” a Block 50 F-16CJ unit and part of the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base, Japan.
The squadron traces its roots back to 313th Bombardment Squadron (Medium), activated on February 1, 1942, and served as a bomber training unit in the continental United States during the initial stages of World War II. The unit also flew anti-submarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico, and was inactivated in October of 1943.
On May 2, 1966, the 13th Tactical Fighter Squadron was reactivated at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base to perform Wild Weasel missions against Vietnamese surface-to-air missile sites and flying the Republic F-105 Thunderchief. In October of 1967, the squadron relocated to Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, where it flew the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II.
At Udorn, the squadron adopted a panther nicknamed “Eldridge” and subsequently became known as the “Panther Pack.” By the time of its inactivation in June 1975, the 13th scored 11 MiG kills, compiled 21 aerial victories, and flew over 30,000 combat sorties.
On June 1, 1985, the Panthers became part of the first permanently-stationed USAF fighter squadron on mainland Japan since 1972 and transitioned from the Rhino to the Viper. Redesignated the 13th Fighter Squadron on May 31, 1991, the unit was then reassigned to the 35th Fighter Wing and, in 1996, achieved initial operational capability (IOC) in the F-16CJ. At about that same time, the squadron’s tail code changed from “MJ” to “WW,” in recognition of the 35th Fighter Wing’s Wild Weasel heritage.
So that brings us to the present day. What has the Panther Pack been up to of late? Well, although we couldn’t say anything at the time, they were the first Weasel unit in the sky over Syria on night one of what has come to be known as Operation Inherent Resolve. They had been previously deployed to a location we’ll call “Base X” in the Middle East, so they were in exactly the right place at the right time when hostilities ensued.
Thanks to a brother in the unit, the Panthers decided to share their deployment video with all of you. It includes all things awesome about flying the F-16: surface attack, BFM, and ultimately showcases when it became time to load up the live HARMs, JDAMs, LGBs and take the fight to the bad guys. So sit back, crank the volume, and settle in for some Super Weasel awesomeness!
(Featured photo by Jonathan Derden)