F-16 FIGHTING FALCON UNITS OF OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
The F-16, called the Viper by its pilots, has been the most prolific fighter in US and Coalition operations in the Middle East for over a decade. Since the 1991 Gulf War, it has been the workhorse of the UN-sanctioned operations in the region, working in ‘Wild Weasel’, ground attack and air superiority roles. Operations Southern Watch and Northern Watch required daily and continuous combat patrols over Iraqi territory for over a decade – a task that was made simpler by the bountiful supply of F-16s in USAF service, and the fact that the jet has always been able to assume multiple roles and uses. When US President George W Bush ordered his forces into Iraq in March 2003, the F-16CJ was the second aircraft to enter enemy airspace-proper, sweeping the skies for electrons in a bid to find, identify and kill Iraq’s comprehensive air defence system. With the mission fulfilled, hordes of other Coalition fighters followed, including F-16CGs, which were used with great success to strike numerous targets.