Red Tails over Alabama: always ready, always there!

At Dannelly Field, Montgomery, Alabama, the 187th Fighter Wing trains with its F-16C/Ds to deliver what the National Guard’s motto promises: ‘Always Ready, Always There’. The unit also carries on the proud Red Tail Heritage of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black fighter pilots within the United States Armed Forces.

100th and 377th Fighter Squadron
The only fighter squadron in the wing, the 100th Fighter Squadron (FS) plays an important part in fulfilling the mission statement. The unit’s F-16s are not solely manned by pilots from the 100th FS. The unit has the 377th FS, a Total Force Initiative (TFI) squadron, embedded into the 187th FW, that is made up of Active Duty Air Force personnel. The primary mission of the 100th Fighter Squadron is Close Air Support (CAS), performing air strikes against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces.

Tuskegee Airman
The history of the 100th FS goes back to 1942 when it was activated at Tuskegee Army Airfield, about 40 miles east of Montgomery, Alabama. Its mission was to train African-American flight cadets in combat flying and preparing them for battle missions during World War II. These first black fighter pilots within the United States Armed Forces became known as the Tuskegee Airmen. Their aircraft were recognizable by a characteristic red tail. Against the backdrop of a racially divided nation, a small group of African-American men trained to become pilots at Moton Field, in Tuskegee, Alabama. During World War II, many lauded their successes in the skies over North Africa and Europe. These men conquered the racial barriers of the time, and the 100th FS is honored to carry on that legacy today. To keep the Red Tail history alive, four F-16s of the 100th FS have a fully red tail, while all other jets have a red banner across the top of the tail. All the tails of the current F-16s also wear names of cities in Alabama.

Preparing for the arrival of the F-35
While still being busy with business as usual with the F-16, the unit is already preparing for its next fighter, the F-35 Lightning II, that should arrive in early 2024. The unit is ready to continue to carry on the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen with the Red Tails flying the most advanced fighter in the Air Force inventory. They stand ready to deliver combat airpower anywhere at any time.

Our article about the 187th Fighter Wing was published in the June 2020 issue of Combat Aircraft Monthly.