Lt. Col. Brian Burger, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot and the 188th Fighter Wing operations group commander, Fort Smith Air National Guard banks into a high angle firing position during a training exercise on Razorback Range located at Fort Chaffee maneuver training center June 4, 2012.
|Branch||Air National Guard|
|Part of||Arkansas Air National Guard|
|Garrison/HQ||Fort Smith Air National Guard Station, Arkansas|
|Motto||"To See Is To Know"|
|Tail Code||Red tail stripe "Arkansas" "FS"|
|188th Fighter Wing emblem|
The 188th Wing (188 FW) is a unit of the Arkansas Air National Guard, stationed at Fort Smith Air National Guard Station, Fort Smith, Arkansas. If activated to federal service, the Wing is gained by the United States Air Force Air Combat Command.
The 188th Wing is a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (MQ-9 Reaper), Space Focused Targeting, and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Unit based in Fort Smith, Ark. The men and women of the 188th are able to rapidly deploy and support ground forces all over the world.
The 188th Wing consists of the following units:
- 188th Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group
- 123d Intelligence Squadron
- 184th Attack Squadron
- 223d Intelligence Support Squadron
- 288th Operations Support Squadron
- 188th Mission Support Group
- 188th Medical Group
- 188th Security forces Squadron
On 22 August 1962, the Arkansas Air National Guard 184th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was authorized to expand to a group level, and the 188th Tactical Reconnaissance Group was established by the National Guard Bureau. The 184th TRS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 188th Headquarters, 188th Material Squadron (Maintenance), 188th Combat Support Squadron, and the 188th USAF Dispensary. The 184th TRS was equipped with the RF-84F Thunderstreak.
In 1970 with the winding-down of the Vietnam War, the 184th began receiving McDonnell RF-101C Voodoos, replacing the RF-84Fs the unit had been flying for over a decade. The USAF had, however, planned for the RF-101C to be gradually phased out of USAF service in favor of the McDonnell RF-4C Phantom II and the aircraft remained with the 184th TRS for only a brief period of time, and in 1970 was retired.
Following their withdrawal from the Vietnam War, numerous USAF F-100D Super Sabres were turned over to the Air National Guard. Tactical Air Command realigned the 151st into a Tactical Fighter Group in 1972, and equipping the unit with Vietnam Veteran F-100D and twin-seat F-100F Trainers. In 1979, the Super Sabre was being retired and the 184th TFS began receiving F-4C Phantom IIs to be used in an air defense role. In 1988, as part of the retirement of the Phantom II, the squadron began receiving Block 15 F-16A Fighting Falcons. The first F-16 delivery to the squadron was on 1 July 1988 and the formal acceptance of the F-16 happened on 15 October. On 15 March 1992 the 184th dropped the Tactical name from the squadron as the parent 184th converted to the USAF Objective organization.
In early 2001 the 184th FS began to retire its F-16A/B block 15s to AMARC in exchange for F-16C block 32s. They never received any D-models. Because the squadron flew the rarely seen block 32, the squadron became a source for spare F-16s for the USAF Thunderbirds flight demonstration team. In the end the 184th FS never had to give up any of their aircraft as the Thunderbirds took needed aircraft from home based Nellis 57th Fighter Wing.
Deployed to Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia (October 24, 2002 to December of 2002) in support of Operation Southern Watch. In 2005, the 188th deployed nearly 300 Airmen and multiple F-16C Fighting Falcons to Balad Air Base, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
BRAC 2005 initially decided to inactivate the 188th Fighter Wing and close Fort Smith ANGB. With a great deal of effort by Arkansas' leaders caused the BRAC panel to change its decision on the 184th FS and give it a new mission. The squadron would still lose its F-16s but in their place would get a total of eighteen A-10 Thunderbolt II ground attack aircraft. One of the deciding factors was Fort Smiths location near Fort Chaffee, a former National Guard training post.
On October 18, 2006 the 184th FS began giving up F-16s when two departed for the 194th Fighter Squadron located at Fresno Air National Guard Base, California. By April 2007 the 184th FS had already begun to receive the A-10 from the Massachusetts ANG 104th Fighter Wing and pilots had already commenced cross training in October. On April 14, 2007 the 184th FS marked the day with a celebration 'Viper Out/Warthog In' day. The 184th FS took the opportunity to display their new A-10 paint scheme and to still fly the F-16 but the 184th FS at this point was officially an A-10 unit.
Between late March and early July 2012, the Wing deployed 375 Airmen and 10 aircraft to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. They were assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, Bagram Airfield, near Kabul. This was the second AEF deployment for the 188th as a unit since receiving A-10 Thunderbolt II "Warthogs" April 14, 2007. The 188th's last AEF deployment transpired in 2010 when the unit deployed about 300 Airmen and 12 A-10Cs to the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing at Kandahar Airfield.
The Guardsmen remained in Afghanistan until October, flying close-air support in response to ground troops who may be in contact with the enemy, or to escort convoys in particularly hostile areas. When not supporting ground troops, A-10s patrol designated sectors and provided aerial reconnaissance on locations of interest to ground commanders. In three months, Arkansas ANG A-10s delivered more than 60,000 30mm cannon rounds and more than 250 precision munitions on enemy targets.
In early 2013 the Air Force planned to realign the 188th Fighter Wing and replace its 20 A-10 aircraft, converting the 184th FS to operate the General Atomics [MQ-9 Reaper] remotely piloted aircraft (RPA). On 7 June 2014, the last A-10 aircraft departed the 188th Fighter Wing. At the same time, the 184th Fighter Squadron was re-designated the 184th Attack Squadron.
In late 2014 the 188th Fire Department which supported the fighter wing operations, but also covered the regional airport, was disbanded after over two decades of full-time service. The shutdown of the fire department breached the current contract with the regional airport to provide fire coverage and resulted in severe cuts to fire and rescue protection for air travelers coming in and out of Fort Smith. A legal dispute regarding the breach of contract has now arisen and is ongoing.
- Designated 188th Tactical Reconnaissance Group and allotted to Arkansas ANG in 1962
- Extended federal recognition on 22 August 1962
- Re-designated: 188th Tactical Fighter Group, 1 July 1972
- Re-designated: 188th Fighter Group, 16 March 1992
- Status changed from Group to Wing, 1 October 1995
- Re-designated: 188th Fighter Wing, 1 October 1995
- Re-designated: 188th Wing, 7 June 2014
- Arkansas Air National Guard, 22 August 1962 – Present
- 188th Operations Group (later Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group), 1 October 1995 – Present
- 184th Tactical Reconnaissance (later Tactical Fighter, Fighter, Attack) Squadron, 22 August 1962 – Present
- Fort Smith Regional Airport, Fort Smith, Arkansas, 22 August 1962
- Designated: Fort Smith Air National Guard Station, 1991-Present
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