Code One, Volume 11, Number 1, January 1998 Page: 18
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"I've included some local press cover-
age of our NVG capability as well,"
notes Capt. Mike Stohler, as he hands
over the binder. Stohler is an instructor
pilot for NVG flying at Indiana's 163rd
Fighter Squadron at Fort Wayne. The
163rd Blacksnakes, part of the 122nd
Fighter Wing, are leading the charge
into night multirole operations for the
Air National Guard. Those living in the
Fort Wayne area know about the unit's
transition to night operations because
they've read about it on the front page of
the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel. The
transition, though, may be news to
other F-16 operators.
"The Guard has been using NVGs in
its F-16 air defense units for several
years," Stohler says. "But we are the
first Guard unit to employ NVGs in both
air-to-air and air-to-ground opera-
tions. We are also the first ANG F-16
unit to receive the Night Vision Imaging
System, or NVIS, modification."
At about $60,000 per aircraft for the
cockpit and external lighting modifica-
tions associated with NVIS and another
$7,000 for a set of NVGs, the ANG is
paying a relatively small fee for admis-
sion into the big league of night fighter
operations. Col. Dave Brubaker, who
oversees F-16 upgrades for the ANG
(a former Blacksnake himself), is on
record as saying that low cost is a basic
requirement for upgrading the ANG's
F-16 fleet to a level of capability that
matches active-duty USAF fighters.
Night capability is one of several funda-
mental improvements underlying the efforts of the
Guard and the Air Force Reserve to remain viable
warfighters into the next century.
"We're going to be flying these Block 25 F-16s for a
long time," says Capt. J.D. Brown, the project leader
for NVGs at Fort Wayne. "In the past, we upgraded our
capabilities through airframes. With the F-4, for exam-
ple, we could anticipate the capabilities of the F-16. It
may be a long time before the Guard ever sees a Joint
Strike Fighter. So, we have to work with what we have.
Fortunately for us, the F-16 provides a lot of potential
to work with."
NVIS and NVGs have opened up the night for
Indiana's F-16s. "We are still a general-purpose Block
25 airplane," Stohler acknowledges, "but now we can
operate effectively twenty-four hours a day. We still
have to place the pipper on the target. And we still drop
Capts. J. Brown (left) and Mike Stohler are qualifying
other Fort Wayne pilots to fly with night vision goggles.
dumb bombs, which are not as accurate as laser-
guided munitions. But we can drop them at night." A
software upgrade will soon allow ANG aircraft to carry
targeting pods and drop laser-guided munitions. For
now, the Maverick missile is Fort Wayne's only preci-
Stohler and Brown are two of five pilots at Fort
Wayne who are fully qualified to fly with NVGs. Five
other pilots are in various stages of training as of
December 1997. The unit, which has been flying with
NVGs since July 1997, expects to have all of its pilots
qualified by the end of 1998.
"It takes a year to eighteen months for a unit to get
checked out with NVGs," Stohler says. "In six months,
Here’s what’s next.
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Lockheed Martin Astronautics (Firm). Code One, Volume 11, Number 1, January 1998, periodical, January 1998; Fort Worth, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth1023905/m1/20/: accessed April 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, Fort Worth.