20th FW flagship receives new tail flash design

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Israel Marrufo, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control specialist, peels paper off a Wild Weasel decal at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 16, 2018.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Israel Marrufo, 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control specialist, peels paper off a Wild Weasel decal at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 16, 2018. Corrosion control Airmen placed Wild Weasel decals onto the 20th Fighter Wing commander’s aircraft to recognize the history of the wing’s mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

The 20th Fighter Wing commander’s F-16CM Fighting Falcon displays a new tail scheme honoring the Wild Weasel mission.

The 20th Fighter Wing commander’s F-16CM Fighting Falcon displays a new tail scheme honoring the Wild Weasel mission. The new tail flash idea followed the removal of the 50th Wild Weasel Anniversary tail painting for the jet’s deployment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control section laugh as they prepare an aircraft for decals at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 16, 2018.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control section laugh as they prepare an aircraft for decals at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 16, 2018. Corrosion control specialists work together to prime, paint and apply decals to F-16 Fighting Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control section sand down an F-16CM Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 15, 2018.

U.S. Airmen assigned to the 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control section sand down an F-16CM Fighting Falcon at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., May 15, 2018. The Airmen were preparing the aircraft tail to be repainted and for new decals to be placed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Destinee Sweeney)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The 20th Equipment Maintenance Squadron corrosion control flight changed the tail flash of the flagship F-16CM Fighting Falcon, May 15-18.

The tail flash, which previously featured a large weasel holding a lightning bolt, was painted back to standard F-16 paint schemes and now once again features a weasel as homage to the 20th Fighter Wing mission.

“A lot of times when people think of Shaw, they think of that aircraft (with the Weasel tail flash),” said Master Sgt. Jonathan Woodle, 20th EMS aircraft structural maintenance section chief. “The fact that we’re carrying that forward is awesome. It’s something that the commander really wanted and we’ve dedicated a lot of time for it. Even though it’s less flashy than it used to be, we wanted to do that for him and we take a lot of pride in our work.”

The new tail flash features the weasel logo along with Air Combat Command’s unit symbol, the 20th FW’s three fighter squadron patterns and standard aircraft markings.

“The image itself is pretty similar,” said Tech. Sgt. Craig Harris, 20th EMS corrosion control assistance noncommissioned officer in charge. “The only difference is it’s in a much smaller size. The last one covered the whole vertical, this one is only 20 inches and it’s a sticker instead of being painted on.”

Weasels are the symbol of the suppression of enemy air defenses mission, the 20th FW’s primary mission.

“The Wild Weasel mission started back in the Vietnam War,” said Woodle. “They would go in and perform the SEAD and destruction of enemy air defenses mission. They were the tip of the spear and would go in and destroy the surface-to-air missile sites to allow the follow-on support and attack aircraft to finish the mission.”

Shaw Weasels prepare and sustain combat-ready F-16 airpower. As the nation’s premier SEAD wing, the 20th FW honors past Wild Weasels who have paved the way for the next fight and continues to add to the mission’s heritage and history.