170th Fighter Squadron

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170th Fighter Squadron
170th Fighter Squadron General Dynamics F-16A Block 15L Fighting Falcon 82-0947.jpg
F-16A block 15 #82-0947 from the 170th TFS is strolling past the camera at Quincy AP in 1991. Aircraft was retired to AMARC as FG0269 Oct 28, 1994. Still on AMARC inventory 15 Jan 2008
Active 22 July 1942-30 September 2008
Country  United States
Allegiance  Illinois
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Squadron
Role Fighter (Inactivated)
Part of Illinois Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Capital Airport Air National Guard Station, Springfield, Illinois
Tail Code Blue tail stripe "Illinois" in white letters
Engagements World War II
170th Fighter Squadron emblem 170th Fighter Squadron emblem.jpg

The 170th Fighter Squadron (170 FS) is an inactive unit of the Illinois Air National Guard. It was last assigned to the 183d Fighter Wing located at Capital Airport Air National Guard Station, Springfield, Illinois. The 170th FS last flew the Block 30 F-16C/D Fighting Falcon. It was inactivated on 30 September 2008.


World War II[edit]

Activated by Third Air Force as the 305th Fighter Squadron. It was a fighter Operational Training Unit (OTU) during World War II. Its mission was to train newly trained pilots and provide combat training prior to their overseas deployment. Initially equipped with the P-39 Aircobra, later using P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs when they became available. By the end of 1943, the USAAF had created all of new combat units required but a constant flow of new pilots was needed to replace those captured, killed in action, or rotated back to United States. The 305th Fighter Squadron discontinued OTU training and switched their training emphasis to Replacement Training of individual pilots.

Inactivated 1944, personnel and aircraft re designated Squadron "A" 335th Army Air Force Base Unit (Replacement Training Unit, Fighter).

Illinois Air National Guard[edit]

The wartime 305th Fighter Squadron was re-constituted and re-designated as the 170th Fighter Squadron on 24 May 1946. It was allotted to the Illinois Air National Guard, being organized at Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport, Springfield, and was extended federal recognition on 30 September 1948. The 170th Fighter Squadron was bestowed the history, honors, and colors of the 305th Fighter Squadron. The squadron was equipped with the F-51D Mustang and was assigned to the Illinois ANG 126th Bombardment Group (Light), at Chicago Municipal Airport.

Korean War mobilization[edit]

On 1 March 1951 the 170th was federalized and brought to active-duty due to the Korean War. It was initially assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC) and transferred to Bergstrom AFB, Texas and assigned to the Federalized Missouri ANG 131st Fighter-Bomber Group. The 131st FBG was composed of the 170th FS, the 192d Fighter Squadron (Nevada ANG), the 110th Composite Squadron (Missouri ANG), and the 178th Fighter Squadron (North Dakota ANG). At Berstrom, its mission was a filler replacement for the 27th Fighter-Escort Group which was deployed to Japan as part of SAC's commitment to the Korean War.

The unit was a Bergstrom until November when it was transferred to Tactical Air Command (TAC) and moved to George AFB, California. At George, the unit was scheduled to be re-equipped with F-84D Thunderjets and was programmed for deployment to Japan, however the F-84s were instead sent to France and the 131st Fighter-Bomber Wing remained in California and flew its F-51 Mustangs for the remainder of its federal service. The 170th Fighter-Bomber Squadron was released from active duty and returned to Illinois state control on 15 October 1952.

Cold War[edit]

170th FBS F-84F-25-RE Thunderstreak 51-1706 in natural aluminum finish, about 1959

After returning to Springfield, the 169th was re-equipped with the F-86E Sabre. However, only about half-dozen Sabres were received before the squadron began receiving F-84F Thunderstreaks, the first F-84F arriving in February, 1955. In November 1957, the squadron's mission was changed from that of a Tactical Fighter Squadron to a Special Delivery squadron, and the 170th began training on the tactical delivery of nuclear weapons.

On 1 October 1961, as a result of the 1961 Berlin Crisis, the 170th was again federalized and assigned to the mobilized Missouri Air National Guard (ANG) 131st Tactical Fighter Wing. Due to budget restrictions, the 170th remained at Springfield, while the 131st TFW deployed to Toul-Rosières Air Base, France as the 7131st Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional). The designation 7131st was used as the Wing, although composed of three federalized ANG squadrons, only deployed the 110th Tactical Fighter Squadron to France. The 170th TFS, however, rotated personnel to Toul during their period of activation, however only one squadron's worth of aircraft and personnel were at Toul at any one time.

170th TFS Republic F-84F-40-RE Thunderstreak 52-6631, in Vietnam War camouflage motif

While in France, the Guardsmen assumed regular commitments on a training basis with the U.S. 7th Army as well as maintaining a 24-hour alert status. The 7131st exchanged both air and ground crews with the Royal Danish Air Force's 730th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Skydstrup Air Station, Denmark, during May 1962. As the Berlin situation subsided, all activated ANG units were ordered to be returned to the United States and released from active duty. The 7131st TFW was inactivated in place in France on 19 July 1962 leaving its aircraft and equipment to USAFE.

The 170th re-formed in the Illinois ANG in the fall of 1962, retaining its F-84F Thunderstreaks. On 15 October 1962, the 170th Tactical Fighter Squadron was authorized to expand to a group level, and the 183d Tactical Fighter Group was established by the National Guard Bureau. The 170th TFS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 183d Headquarters, 183d Material Squadron (Maintenance), 183d Combat Support Squadron, and the 183d USAF Dispensary.

170th Tactical Fighter Squadron McDonnell F-4D-31-MC Phantom 66-7701, about 1982. Aircraft was retired to AMARC as FP0146 Aug 2, 1988

It continued to fly the F-84F aircraft throughout the 1960s. The squadron was not activated for service during the Vietnam War, although during 1968–1971 many of its personnel were activated and some saw service in Southeast Asia. All F-84Fs were grounded in November 1971, after a 170th pilot was killed when his plane lost a wing during exercises at the Hardwood Gunnery range in Findley, Wisconsin. The accident was caused by the "milkbone" joining bolt in the main wing was weakened by years of flying and failed in-flight. Inspections of other F-84Fs in the Air National Guard found the same issue affected many other aircraft. The problem was deemed too-widespread to justify the economic repair of the aircraft, and it was decided to retire the ANG's fleet of F-84Fs and replace them with more modern aircraft. All F-84s were retired to AMARC at Davis-Monthan AFB, the 170th having the distinction of flying the F-84F longer than any other USAF/ANG squadron.

In 1972, the 183d Fighter Group was the first Air National Guard unit to receive the F-4C Phantom II, with its aircraft being Vietnam War aircraft that were returning from Southeast Asia. Along with the F-4C, a flight of RF-4C Phantom II Reconnaissance aircraft were received. In 1981, the F-4Cs were exchanged for the F-4D Phantom II.

Post Cold War era[edit]

The 170th saw its first F-16A Fighting Falcon on 7 June 1989 when two landed at Capital Airport to replace the aging F-4D Phantom II. By 5 May 1990 the 170th TFS was operational with the F-16A/B. Its mission at the time was fighter attack and was provided the block 15 for this job. On 15 March 1992 the squadron changed designation from the 170th Tactical Fighter Squadron to the 170th Fighter Squadron when its parent 183d Fighter Group adopted the new Air Force Objective organization plan.

During early 1994 the 170th FS started to exchange their block 15 F-15A/B for block 30 F-16C/D Fighting Falcon with the big inlet design. Most of the block 15's were retired straight to AMARC. During the 1990s, the unit conducted numerous overseas deployments, including six to Southwest Asia, two to Denmark, one to Panama, one to Curaçao, and one to Thailand.

Global War on Terrorism[edit]

170th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron F-16C 87-0294 at Balad AB, Iraq, takes off on an Operation Iraqi Freedom mission on July 21, 2006

After the 9/11 attack, the 170th FS increased its capability by obtaining AN/AAQ-28(V) LITENING targeting pods in October 2001. Training with the new pod started immediately and included some internal personnel as some were trained on use of the pod as well as training from the Wisconsin ANG. Purpose of the training was to get ready for deployment in March 2002 for Operation Enduring Freedom.

Starting in January 2002 the 170th FS deployed for two weeks to Tucson ANGB, Arizona for final training with the LITENING pod. Initially the deployment in March 2002 was to be with two other ANG units but this changed due to Operation Noble Eagle air defense commitments. As a result the 170th FS deployed by itself as the 170th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron (170 EFS). When the 170th EFS arrived it replaced the 18th EFS which was normally based at Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska. On top of duties over Afghanistan, the 170th FS also had to perform air interdiction missions over Iraq in support of Operation Southern Watch.

In the very early morning on 17 April 2002 while on deployment in Afghanistan a pilot in a two-ship formation from the 170th FS mistakenly bombed a Canadian force which was practicing live firing of its weapons near Kandahar, Afghanistan. Four soldiers were killed and eight were injured. This tragedy dogged the 170th FS for years and a trial against the pilots began in Springfield.

After more than two consecutive years with deploying overseas the 170th FS participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom when they deployed to the region in October 2004.

BRAC 2005 and Inactivation[edit]

170th Fighter Squadron - 60th Anniversary F-16. USAF F-16C block 30 #87-0296 from the 170th FS is leaving Springfield IAP for its final training flight in September 2008 before the units inactivation.

The BRAC 2005 committee report recommended the retirement of the Block 30 F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the inactivation of the 170th Fighter Squadron. Despite challenges by the Governor of Illinois in Federal Court, the aircraft began to be retired, and ultimately the US District Judge stated that there was not enough evidence to support that the region would suffer major harm by the closure of the unit. The last F-16 departed on 23 September 2008, marking the end of the flying mission for the 183d Fighter Wing.

Due to the outstanding quality of work historically exhibited by the 183d Fighter Wing, the new mission outlined by the BRAC commission recommended the facilities and notable skill sets of personnel assigned be realigned into a Centralized Intermediate Repair Facility (CIRF).


  • Constituted 305th Fighter Squadron on 15 July 1942
Activated on 22 Jul 1942
Disbanded on 4 May 1944; replaced by "Squadron A", 335th Army Air Force Base Unit (Replacement Training Unit, Fighter)
  • Re-constituted and re-designated 170th Fighter Squadron, and allotted to Illinois ANG, on 24 May 1946
Extended federal recognition on 30 Sep 1948
Ordered to active service on 1 Apr 1951
Re-designated: 170th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 1 July 1952
Re-designated: 170th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 1 December 1952
Relieved from active duty and returned to Illinois state control. 1 January 1953
Re-designated: 170th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 1 Jul 1955
Re-designated: 170th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 10 Nov 1958
Federalized and placed on active duty, 1 October 1961
Released from active duty and returned to Illinois state control, 31 August 1962
Re-designated: 170th Fighter Squadron on 15 Mar 1992
Designated: 170th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron when elements deployed to United States Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF)
Inactivated on 30 September 2008


Attached to: 7123d Tactical Wing (USAFE), 1 October 1961-31 August 1962


Operated from: Bordeaux-Mérignac AB, France, 1 November 1951 – 25 May 1952
Operated from: Laon-Couvron AB, France, 25 May 1952 – 31 December 1952
Elements operated from: Toul-Rosieres AB, France, 1 October 1961-31 August 1962
Designated: Capital Airport Air National Guard Station, Illinois, 1991-2008
  • 170th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron deployments:
Operated from: Ahmed Al Jaber AB, Kuwait, March–May 1996 (Operation Southern Watch)
Operated from: Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia, June–August 1997 (Operation Southern Watch)
Operated from: Ahmed Al Jaber AB, Kuwait, March–June 2002 (Operation Southern Watch/Operation Enduring Freedom)
Operated from: Al Udeid AB, Qatar, October–December 2004; May–August 2006 (Operation Iraqi Freedom)



 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Rene' J Francillon - Airograph 2 The Air Guard-1983 Aerofax Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 83-070743 ISBN 0-942548-03-5 Softcover/0-942548-02-7 Hardcover
  • David R. McLaren - Republic F-84-1998 Schiffer Military History Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 97-80165 ISBN 0-7643-0444-5
  • Rogers, B (2006 United States Air Force Unit Designations since 1978. ISBN 1-85780-197-0
  • Air Force Personnel Center Awards Search (Post-1991)

External links[edit]