188th Fighter Wing

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188th Fighter Wing
184th Fighter Squadron Fairchild Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II 79-129 - 1.jpg
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.
Active 1962-Present
Country  United States
Allegiance  Arkansas
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Wing
Role Attack
Part of Arkansas Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Fort Smith Air National Guard Station, Arkansas
Nickname "Flying Razorbacks"
Motto "To See Is To Know"
Tail Code Red tail stripe "Arkansas" "FS"
Insignia
188th Fighter Wing emblem 188th Fighter Wing.png

The 188th Fighter 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.

Overview[edit]

The 188th Fighter Wing's A-10 Thunderbolts provide close air support to troops on the ground. The specially designed airframe is built around the 30mm Gatling gun and a titanium armor that can sustain direct hits from armor piercing projectiles. The men and women of the 188th are able to rapidly deploy and support ground forces all over the world.

Units[edit]

The 188th Fighter Wing consists of the following units:

  • 188th Operations Group
184th Fighter Squadron
  • 188th Maintenance Group
  • 188th Mission Support Group
  • 188th Medical Group

History[edit]

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.

Tactical Fighter[edit]

McDonnell F-4C-15-MC Phantom II fighter (s/n 63-7411) of the 188th Tactical Fighter Group, Arkansas Air National Guard, prepares for take-off at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada (USA), during the "Gunsmoke '85" exercise on 6 October 1985.
F-16Cs Arkansas ANG at Ft Smith 2002
The 188th Fighter Wing in Fort Smith, Ark., welcomed its transition from F-16s to A-10s April 14. Federal, state and local elected officials along joined unit members to say farwell to the F-16 (foreground) and hello to the A-10 (background). Both pictured planes were flying off the wing of a 189th Airlift Wing C-130 before they returned to their base for an aerial demonstration. F-16 84-1285

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 24th, 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[edit]

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 18th, 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 of 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 14th, 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.

Current status[edit]

In early 2012 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). Currently the A-10 aircraft are slated for removal pending the NDAA not yet signed by President Obama. Last Edit 20121227

Between late March and early July 2012, the Wing deployed 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.

Lineage[edit]

  • 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

Assignments[edit]

Gained by: Tactical Air Command
Gained by: Air Combat Command, 1 June 1992-Present

Components[edit]

Stations[edit]

Designated: Fort Smith Air National Guard Station, 1991-Present

Aircraft[edit]

Decorations[edit]

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]