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148th Fighter Wing will get new jets

By Master Sgt. Jason Rolfe | Minnesota National Guar | March 3, 2010

DULUTH, Minn., - The 148th Fighter Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard will receive Block 50 F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft from Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany between mid-April to late-May 2010, Guard officials announced today.

The F-16s will be transferred to the 148th making the Duluth-based fighter wing the first Air National Guard Wing to convert to the Block 50 aircraft from active duty Air Force.

The newer F-16s provide newer technologies that will provide ready capabilities beyond 2020. This aircraft also boasts an improved engine with more thrust as well as enhancements to the aircraft structure. It also includes a greater computer capacity for future upgrades and improvements.

This conversion will take about 18-24 months after the Block 50 aircraft arrive in Duluth. Pilots, engine mechanics and other aircraft maintenance personnel will attend technical training. They will also require extensive on-the-job training to become proficient at flying and maintaining the new aircraft.

"I'm excited about the conversion," said Col. Frank Stokes, the 148th commander. "Receiving these aircraft validates the hard work and dedication of our wing members and the continued support of our community leaders and elected officials. We are looking forward to continuing the Bulldog's proud tradition."