It is the 40th anniversary of their arrival in Spain, where they remained until 1991

F-16 fighters based in Spain: the USAF 401st Tactical Fighter Wing at Torrejón Air Base

There was a time, many years ago, when it was common to hear the roar of F-16 fighters near the city of Madrid.

The USAF publishes the images of the deployment of four B-52 bombers in Spain
The atypical repair in Spain of a C-5M Super Galaxy, the largest aircraft in the US Air Force

The Torrejón Air Base, located less than 30 km from the capital of Spain, was built in 1957 and was initially used jointly by the Spanish Air Force and the United States Air Force (USAF). ). On April 27, 1966, the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing (401st TFW) of the USAF was transferred from England AFB, in Louisiana, to that Spanish base. At first I said that its roar could be heard nearby from the city of Madrid, because they were not allowed to fly over the capital of Spain.

This unit was made up of three Tactical Fighter Squadrons: 307 and 353 (which left Spain in 1971) and 613, which continued in Torrejón until 1991. In 1972 two new squadrons, 612 and 614, were assigned to Torrejón to replace the 307 and 353. In 1988 the new F-16C/D Block 30 began to arrive in Torrejón, being replaced first by those of the 612 Squadron. Between the three squadrons, the USAF had 72 F-16s at Torrejón (24 aircraft per squadron).

In February 1983, 40 years ago, the 401st TFW began to change its F-4D Phantom II for the F-16A/B Fighting Falcon. There they initially coincided with the F-4C and RF-4C Phantom II that operated Wing 12, replaced from 1989 by the EF-18A Hornet. For eight years, until the transfer of these fighters to the Aviano base (Italy), the F-16s flew over Spain contributing to its defence. The US National Archives website does not contain many photos from that time, but I have been able to locate some more that show F-16s over Spain.

Before the F-16s, their Avionics Intermediate Shops (AIS) arrived in Spain, which were used to evaluate the new fighters for maintenance tasks. Here we see the discharge of one of them from a USAF C-5A Galaxy at the Torrejón Air Base on December 6, 1982.

Several AIS of the F-16s after their arrival in Torrejón on December 6, 1982 aboard a USAF C-5A Galaxy.

A visit by children to the Torrejón Air Base on April 5, 1983. Next to them we see the dome of the cockpit of one of the USAF F-16s that arrived in February of that year at Torrejon.

Two F-16As of the 401st TFW over the city of Toledo in 1983. Below you can see the famous Alcázar, and to your right is the Tagus River (photo: Leyendas de Toledo).

Two F-16s of the 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the USAF approaching Torrejón Air Base on July 2, 1985 at the end of a training flight. Since 1972, the three squadrons of the 401st TFW had carried the initials TJ, alluding to their Spanish base, as their tail code.

The two F-16s in the previous photo, with the landing gear deployed and about to land at the Torrejón Air Base on July 2, 1985.

The two F-16s in the previous photos, at the end of another training flight on June 5, 1985, making their approach to the Torrejón Air Base.

"El Cazador" (The Hunter) was the Spanish nickname for an F-16A of the 612th Squadron, 81-0758, based in Torrejón. Here we see it in a photo taken by Scott R. Wilson in the first half of the 1980s. This aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on April 1, 1991, 50 miles east of Atlantic City, during a training flight. The body of its pilot, Major Robert Dean Ashenfelter, was never found. He was declared missing and it is presumed that he died in the accident.

F-16A 81-0790, of the 612 Squadron, with a load of Mark-82 bombs and an AN/ALQ-131 ECM pod on its ventral mount, on May 7, 1986, during a training in Konya, Turkey.

Major General Winfield S. Harpe, commander of the USAF 16th Air Force, in the flight uniform of the Major General. In the background we see one of the F-16As of the 401st TFW. The photo was taken on July 9, 1988.

One of the two-seater F-16s of the 401st TFW in Torrejón. The bearded man is not one of the pilots: he is Republican Congressman Robert K. Dornan during a visit to this base on September 20 from 1988.

Four of Torrejón's F-16As in an unidentified location during Operation Desert Storm, in 1991.

Two of Torrejón's F-16Cs (right) deployed on February 23, 1991 in Qatar, during Operation Desert Storm. Next to them we see three French Mirage F1C fighters.

Major Jeffrey "Tico" Tice, 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron, adjusting his flight suit in Torrejón. Major Tice was one of eight USAF pilots shot down and captured by the Iraqis during Operation Desert Storm.

An F-16C of the 614th Tactical Fighter Squadron, number 87-0257, in Torrejón. It was the plane of Major Jeffrey "Tico" Tice (photo: Scott Snell /

The F-16C pictured above, 87-0257, photographed by the Marines in Iraq (photo: Scott Snell). Major Jeffrey "Tico" was shot down on January 20, 1991. After being captured by the Iraqis, he was released on March 6, 1991 (photo: Scott Snell /


Photos: Archivos Nacionales de Estados Unidos / USAF / Scott Snell / / Leyendas de Toledo.

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