F16 fighter jet flying upside down, blue sky. The F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter aircraft developed by General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin in the United States. Designed as a lightweight fighter, it evolved into a successful multirole aircraft. The Thunderbirds are the Air Demonstration Squadron of the United States Air Force. As such, they tour the United States and much of the world, performing aerobatic formation and solo flying in specially-marked USAF jet aircraft.
Officers serve a two-year assignment with the squadron, while enlisted personnel serve three to four. Replacements must be trained for about half of the team each year, providing a constant mix of experience.
The squadron performs no more than 88 air demonstrations each year and has never canceled a demonstration due to maintenance difficulty. In addition to their air demonstration responsibilities, the Thunderbirds are part of the USAF combat force and a component of the 57th Wing. If required, the team's personnel and aircraft can be rapidly integrated into a fighter unit at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada