This Air Force press release provides only bare-bones information about last week's strike that took out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, so let me fill in a few operational details.
For the record, the F-16 that took out the terrorist lead is a Block 30 jet, assigned to the Alabama Air National Guard's 187th Fighter Wing, normally based at the Montgomery Regional Airport. The Block 30 is one of the tried-and-true variants of the Viper, best known as the first F-16 with a General Electric engine. Block 30 jets have one of the best thrust-to-weight ratios of any of the F-16 variants, since the GE powerplant produces 5,000 pounds more thrust that comparable Pratt and Whitney models. Most of the Block 30s rolled off the General Dynamics assembly line in the late 80s, but will remain in service with the ANG for years to come.
While the jet that dropped those 500-lb bombs came from the Alabama Guard, the pilot in the cockpit on the Zarqawi mission was a member of the Wisconsin ANG's 115th Fighter Wing, located in that liberal mecca, Madison, Wisconsin. A rather delicious irony, wouldn't you say? I wonder if the Madison City Council or University of Wisconsin faculty senate will pass a resolution condemning the "use" of state ANG personnel in "George Bush's illegal war."
Personally, I'm hoping the jet's crew chief paints a little picture of Zarqawi beneath the canopy, in commeration of the F-16's "victory" over the terrorist mastermind.