115th Fighter Wing
|115th Fighter Wing|
F-16C block 30s #87-0349, #87-0261 & #87-0262 from the 176th FS on a routine training mission in the skies over Wisconsin on 16 October 2008
|Active||15 April 1956-Present|
|Branch||Air National Guard|
|Part of||Wisconsin Air National Guard|
|Garrison/HQ||Truax Field Air National Guard Base, Madison, Wisconsin|
|Tail Code||Red tail stripe "Wisconsin" in white letters, "WI"|
|Colonel Jeffrey Wiegand|
|115th Fighter Wing emblem|
The 115th Fighter Wing (115 FW) is a unit of the Wisconsin Air National Guard, which is stationed at Truax Field Air National Guard Base, Madison, Wisconsin. If activated to federal service, the Wing is gained by the United States Air Force Air Combat Command.
The 115th Fighter Wing provides multi-role fighter support including air-to-air, close air support and precision guided bombing. The wing currently operates the latest generation of munitions such as the JDAM series bombs and the AIM-9X air-to-air missile.
As an Air National Guard unit, it is normally under the command of the Governor, but has a federal role as well. Currently the wing has personnel and/or aircraft assigned to Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Jump Start and regularly serves with the Air Expeditionary Force in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 115th Fighter Wing consists of the following units:
- 115th Operations Group
- 115th Mission Support Group
- 115th Maintenance Group
- 115th Medical Group
On 15 April 1956, the Wisconsin Air National Guard 176th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron was authorized to expand to a group level, and the 115th Fighter-Interceptor Group was established by the National Guard Bureau. The 176th FIS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 115th Headquarters, 115th Material Squadron (Maintenance), 115th Combat Support Squadron, and the 115th USAF Dispensary. The 115th FIG was assigned to the Air Defense Command, assuming the mission, personnel and equipment of the 176th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.
The group trained for its air defense mission with summer activities moved to Volk Field from 1956 to 1962. Beginning in 1963, it moved to "year-around" training. In January 1960, F-89 crews were put on active duty status and the unit was assigned an around-the-clock runway alert commitment of two armed aircraft. With this undertaking came the F-89J with an armament platform that included the AIR-2 Genie. The AIR-2A was the first US air-to-air missile with a nuclear warhead. The 176th FIS exchanged their F-89s for the F-102 Delta Dagger in early 1966.
In May 1966, the 176th FIS replaced their F-89s with the Convair F-102 Delta Dagger. After a period of re-training in the new supersonic interceptors, the 176th FIS resumed its air defense "runway alert" mission in the spring of 1967. One year later in June 1969, the unit airlifted to Gulfport, Mississippi for summer training, ending six years of "year around" alerts at their home base.
In September 1972, the 176th FIS won the "William Tell Competition" in the F-102 category. The event, held at Tyndall Air Force Base, included top Air National Guard, Canadian Air Force and active US Air Force units worldwide. The competition included 12 teams of 48 aircraft, each team scored on aerial marksmanship, weapons control, weapons loading and maintenance.
Forward air control
In November 1974, the 115th Fighter-Interceptor Group was transferred from Air Defense Command to Tactical Air Command(TAC). In addition, the 115th's status was elevated from a group to a Wing, its designation being changed to the 128th Tactical Air Support Wing in a re-alignment by the Wisconsin National Guard Bureau.
With the realignment to TAC, in December 1974, the unit's F-102s were replaced by the Cessna O-2A Skymaster Forward Air Control (FAC) aircraft. The O-2 was the military version of the Cessna 337 Skymaster, a high wing, twin-boom aircraft with a unique centerline pusher/tractor twin engine configuration. The O-2A version, used by the 176th TASS, was used in forward air control, (FAC), missions, often in conjunction with a ground FAC and ROMAD (radio operator, maintenance, and driver) team.
In November 1979, the O-2s were replaced by the OA-37B Dragonfly Forward Air Control aircraft. It was developed from the A-37 light attack plane which was used extensively in the Vietnam War as a counter-insurgency aircraft, with the surviving planes either being sold to the South Vietnamese Air Force or returned to the United States. The OA-37s were received from ANG units in Maryland and New York.
With most of the pilots and maintenance crews having prior jet aircraft experience with the F-102s, the unit was able to transition the OA-37 to C-1 status, (full combat ready), in less than six months. Awards during the OA-37 era included an overall rating of "Excellent" in the unit's Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI), the Distinguished Flying Award and their first Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.
Close air support
On 1 October 1981, the group was re-designated the 128th Tactical Fighter Wing (TFS). Along with the mission change came a new aircraft, the A-10 Thunderbolt II, nicknamed the "Warthog". The OA-37s were sent to other ANG units; survivability made the A-10 an excellent weapons delivery system for ground targets. The A-10's most dominant feature is its seven-barrel GAU-8/A 30 mm cannon, capable of firing at up to 70 "tank busting" rounds per second.
During the A-10 era, the unit received two "Outstanding Unit" Awards, three Air Force Flight Safety Awards, and in 1991 an "Outstanding" in its Unit Effectiveness Inspection (UEI). Deployments with the A-10 included Operation Coronet Cove to Panama, and "Checkered Flag" missions to NATO bases in West Germany and England.
With the end of the Cold War, the early 1990s marked several changes. On 16 March 1992, the 128th Tactical Fighter Wing became the 128th Fighter Wing. The 128th FW implemented the Air Force Objective Organization, which established the 128th Operations Group to which the 176th FS was assigned. Also occurring at this time was a command change from the Air Force's Tactical Air Command (TAC) to the newly created Air Combat Command (ACC).
In 1993, the wing began transitioning from the A-10A to the F-16C/D block 30 Fighting Falcon airframes with the enlarged inlet, the A-10s were transferred to other ANG units. The first F-16s arrived at Truax ANGB on 1 April 1993. The current role of the 176th FS is air-interdiction and close air support (CAS). This was the same task as when they flew the A-10, although the transition to the F-16 meant a huge change in the overall execution of this mission when comparing the A-10 with the F-16.
On 11 October 1995, the 128th Fighter Wing was renamed back to the 115th by the Wisconsin National Guard Bureau. The 128th designation was causing confusion with the 128th Air Refueling Wing at General Mitchell ANGB, another Wisconsin Air National Guard unit.
Operations participated in by the 115th Fighter Wing include: Operation Coronet Chariot, Karup AS, Denmark 1994, Operation Northern Watch, Incirlik AB, Turkey 1997, Operation Southern Watch, Al Jaber AB, Kuwait 1997-98, Operation Southern Watch, Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia 1999, Operation Coronet Nighthawk, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles 2001, Operation Enduring Freedom, Al Udeid AB, Qatar 2004–05, Balad AB, Iraq, 2006, 08, & 09, Africa, 2013 and Operation Noble Eagle, from 11 September 2001 to the present.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, the DoD recommended to close Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico. As a result, it would distribute the 27th Fighter Wing's F-16s to the 115th Fighter Wing, (three aircraft) and several other installations.
The 176th Fighter Squadron celebrated its 60th anniversary in October 2008.
- Designated 115th Fighter-Interceptor Group, and allotted to Wisconsin ANG, 1956
- Extended federal recognition and activated, 15 April 1956
- Re-designated: the 115th Tactical Air Support Group, 9 November 1974
- Status changed from Group to Wing, 9 November 1974
- Re-designated: the 128th Tactical Air Support Wing, 9 November 1974
- Re-designated: the 128th Tactical Fighter Wing, 15 November 1981
- Re-designated: the 128th Fighter Wing, 15 March 1992
- Re-designated: the 115th Fighter Wing, 11 October 1995
- Wisconsin Air National Guard, 15 April 1956 – Present
- Gained by: Air Defense Command
- Gained by: Tactical Air Command, 9 November 1974
- Gained by: Air Combat Command, 1 June 1992-Present
- 128th Operations Group, 15 March 1992
- Re-designated 115th Operations Group, 11 October 1995-Present
- 176th Fighter-Interceptor (later Tactical Air Support, Tactical Fighter, Fighter) Squadron, 15 April 1956 – Present
- Assigned to Group element, 15 March 1992-Present
- Truax Field, Wisconsin, 15 March 1992
- Designated: Truax Field Air National Guard Base, Wisconsin, 1991 – present
- 115th Fighter Wing website history
- 115th Fighter Wing@globalsecurity.org
- Rogers, B. (2006). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. ISBN 1-85780-197-0
- Cornett, Lloyd H. and Johnson, Mildred W., A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization 1946 - 1980, Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center, Peterson AFB, CO (1980).