Aggressor squadrons are airborne units used by both the USAF and the U.S. Navy to play the role of the enemy in war games. The idea behind all this is that pilots should become better at their jobs if opposed by real humans flying equally-advanced airplanes, instead of stationary or imaginary targets.
Over the years, these units used both American-made aircraft, but also ones made by enemy nations, including Russia’s MiGs. More recently though, most of the aggressor planes are American and mostly F-16s in the case of the USAF.
You see one of them in the main photo of this piece, locked and loaded as it flew during exercise Black Flag 22-1 held at the Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada back in mid-May.
This particular bird is assigned to the 64th Aggressor Squadron, and aside from the rockets and drop tank it carries, it also boasts hues and blue and white often seen in various patterns on Russian jets.
The 64th Aggressor Squadron was set up in 1941 as a pursuit squadron and started off by using P-40 Warhawks. 30 Fighting Falcons of the F-16C/M variety are flown by this unit, “providing realistic, threat-representative, near-peer adversary air for high-end US and coalition training.”