On June 11th, the US Air Force announced that its F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets, serving with the 64th Aggressor Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, were painted in the new “spooky” “ghost” paint scheme.
It is not specifically “spooky” because it’s called “ghost”, but rather because that’s the paint scheme of the Russian Su-57 fighter jets, and the painted F-16s are being used by an Aggressor Squadron.
An aggressor squadron or adversary squadron is a squadron that is trained to act as an opposing force in military wargames. Aggressor squadrons use enemy tactics, techniques, and procedures to give a realistic simulation of air combat
In this case, Russian Su-57, their capability and tactics.
The paint scheme is intended to replicate an adversary’s fighter jet. United States, allied, and partner-nation aircrews routinely train against accurate and realistic threats including aircraft painted to replicate those pilots might see in aerial combat.
“The paint shop at Nellis did one of these planes last year and asked us to paint this one,” said Jim Gill 576th AMXS production flight chief. “They sent us pictures and gave us the pattern, but there were no instructions. We had to put it together ourselves.”
Paint supervisor Dallas Porter said they laid the stencils on tables and on the shop floor trying to figure out where everything went and sometimes it didn’t match up the way they thought.
“Laying on the flat ground, it was great, but once you get up there with those angles, stuff starts twisting and moving,” Porter said. “It’s tougher to get the angles and 90-degree turns, but something like this gets everybody involved, working as a team.”
The photo shoot depicts the repainting in this painting scheme of the F-16C Block 32D fighter with military number 86-0299.
It is known that earlier in 2019, at least one more F-16C aircraft from the 64th aggressor squadron with military number 84-1220 received such a paint scheme by Nellis airbase, however, they now turned to a specialized unit at Hill Airbase for repainting the fighter aircraft.
For Americans, this paint scheme turned out to be very laborious, it is reported that if applying the standard US Air Force paint scheme to an F-16 fighter takes an average of 11 days, then 12 people from the 576th squadron worked to apply the “ghost” paint scheme three shifts over 18 days.
This paint pattern and its name were actually voted by users on social media.
Novotny let the social media vote on several color schemes, some of those based on existing patterns, others designed by the users, narrowing down the choices and helping them picking the new pattern. After a few rounds of polls, likes and comments, the winner was the pixelated camouflage that appeared in 2018 on the Russian Sukhoi Su-57.
“F-16C belonging to the 64th and 18th AGRS have been sporting different paint schemes for decades now. As reported last year, when the 64th AGRS unveiled a new ‘splinter’ F-16 the purpose of these liveries is to make the Aggressor jets as similar as possible to the real threats and put the pilots in training against the Red Air in a similar situation to what they would see during an engagement with the opposing combat air forces.”
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- Russia Is Testing Unmanned Regime Of Its Su-57 Fifth-Generation Fighter
- Su-57 5th-Generation Stealth Multirole Fighter (Infographics)