194th Fighter Squadron
|194th Fighter Squadron|
194th Fighter Squadron - General Dynamics F-16C Block 25D Fighting Falcon 84-1271 is flying over Lake Tahoe with two AIM-9 and two AIM-120 missiles
|Branch||Air National Guard|
|Part of||California Air National Guard|
|Garrison/HQ||Fresno Air National Guard Base, Fresno, California|
|194th Fighter Squadron|
The 194th Fighter Squadron (194 FS) is a unit of the California Air National Guard 144th Fighter Wing at Fresno Air National Guard Base, California. The 194th is equipped with the F-16C Fighting Falcon.
World War II
Activated in October 1943 as the 403d Fighter Squadron at Hamilton Field, California. During World War II, the squadron was an Operational Training Unit (OTU), equipped with second-line P-39 Aircobras and P-40 Warhawks. Its mission was to train newly-graduated pilots from Training Command in combat tactics and maneuvers before being assigned to their permanent combat unit. Initially assigned to IV Fighter Command, then transferred to III Fighter Command in 1944, being re-equipped with P-51D Mustangs. It took part in air-ground maneuvers and demonstrations, participating in the Louisiana Maneuvers in the summer of 1944 and in similar activities in the US until after V-J Day.
Inactivated in November 1945.
California Air National Guard
The wartime 403d Fighter Squadron was re-activated and re-designated as the 194th Fighter Squadron, and was allotted to the California Air National Guard, on 24 May 1946. It was organized at Naval Air Station Alameda, California, and was extended federal recognition on 25 June 1948 by the National Guard Bureau. The 194th Fighter Squadron was bestowed to the history, honors, and colors of the 403d Fighter Squadron. The squadron was equipped with F-51D Mustangs and was assigned to the CA ANG 144th Fighter Group. During its early years with the F-51D, the unit earned prominence as one of the Air Force's most respected aerial gunnery competitors.
The postwar era was a time of organization and expansion of the Air National Guard. The units had to be organized, federally recognized, equipped and stationed. The first several years were difficult as units had to contend with worn-out World War II aircraft while the Air Force converted to modern jet fighters. Air Guard units were under-funded and largely left to themselves to conduct training with little assistance and supervision by the Air Force.
However, as a result of using wartime aircraft, parts were no problem and many of the maintenance personnel were World War II veterans so readiness was quite high and the planes were often much better maintained than their USAF counterparts. In some ways, the postwar Air National Guard was almost like a flying country club and a pilot could often show up at the field, check out an aircraft and go flying. However, the unit also had regular military exercises that kept up proficiency and in gunnery and bombing contests they would often score at least as well or better than active-duty USAF units, given the fact that most ANG pilots were World War II combat veterans.
With the surprise invasion of South Korea on 25 June 1950, and the regular military's complete lack of readiness, most of the Air National Guard was federalized placed on active duty. The F-51Ds were exchanged for F-51H Mustangs in 1951, as the "D" model of the Mustang was needed for close air support missions in Korea. The F-51H was a Very Long Range version of the Mustang, which was developed to escort B-29 Superfortress bombers to Japan, but not considered rugged enough to be used in Korea. The increased range, however was well-suited for air defense interceptor alert flights. During its years with the P-51H, the unit earned prominence as one of the Air Force's most respected aerial gunnery competitors. In June 1953, while still flying the Mustang, the unit qualified for the first all-jet, worldwide gunnery meet.
With the increased availability of jet aircraft after the Korean War, the squadron's aircraft were upgraded from the piston-engine, propeller driven F-51H to its first jet aircraft, the F-86A Sabre Day Interceptor in 1954. At the same time, the 194th relocated to Fresno Yosemite International Airport, followed by the wing in 1957. On 7 July 1955, the 144th was re-designated as the 194th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, a designation kept by the squadron for the next 37 years. With the F-86A, the 144th began standing dusk-to-dawn alerts, joining its Air Defense Command active-duty counterparts.
The 194th continued to fly the F-86A until 31 March 1958. On April 1, 1958, the transition was made to the F-86L Sabre Interceptor, which was designed from the onset as an interceptor, had all-weather capability and was able to be used in all weather. In addition, the F-86L could be controlled and directed by the SAGE computer-controlled Ground Control Interceptor (Radar) sites which would vector the aircraft to the unidentified target for interception.
The 144th continued to fly the F-86A until 31 March 1958. On April 1, 1958, the transition was made to the F-86L, which was flown until 30 June 1964. On July 1, 1964, the 144th began flying the F-102 and continued flying this aircraft until 24 July 1974. On 25 July 1974, the 144th brought the F-106 into service, and continued to fly this aircraft until 31 December 1983. On 1 October 1978 Aerospace Defense Command was inactivated, its units being re-assigned to Air Defense, Tactical Air Command (ADTAC). which was established compatible to a Numbered Air Force under TAC. TAC replaced the aging F-106s on 1 January 1984 with F-4D Phantom IIs, being used in the air defense interceptor mission.
The squadron started receiving their first F-16A Fighting Falcons on 1 October 1989. These were of the block 15 type, replacing the F-4D in the air defense and attack roles. The block 15 airframes weren’t exactly suited to the dedicated air defense mission the squadron was tasked to. This was fixed with the Air Defense Fighter (ADF) upgrade these aircraft received during 1990.
Effective 16 March 1992, the 144th Fighter Interceptor Wing was redesignated as the 144th Fighter Wing (144th FW), with all related Fighter Interceptor Groups and Squadrons becoming Fighter Groups and Fighter Squadrons. On 1 June 1992, the 144th FW was reassigned to Air Combat Command.
During this time the 194th FS also had an alert detachment at George AFB. This base was closed in 1992 due to the overall downsizing after the Cold War and the alert detachment moved to March Air Force Base. In 1995 the squadron transitioned to the more F-16C Fighting Falcon block 25 aircraft.
After having flown for 11 years with the block 25 airframes, a number of those came to the end of their operational lifespan. It was therefore decided that the airframes of the 194th FS were to be replaced with F-16C Block 32 aircraft. The conversion to these block 32 models started in December of 2006 and was gradually completed by the end of 2007.
- Constituted 409th Fighter Squadron on 12 Oct 1943
- Activated on 15 Oct 1943
- Re-designated: 409th Fighter-Bomber Squadron on 5 Apr 1944
- Re-designated: 409th Fighter Squadron on 5 Jun 1944.
- Inactivated on 7 Nov 1945
- Re-designated: 194th Fighter Squadron, and allocated to California ANG on 24 May 1946
- Extended federal recognition on 25 June 1948
- Re-designated: 194th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 1 October 1952
- Re-designated: 194th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 1 December 1952
- Re-designated: 194th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 7 July 1955
- Re-designated: 194th Fighter Squadron, 16 March 1992
- 372d Fighter (Later Fighter-Bomber, Fighter) Group, 15 Oct 1943 – 7 Nov 1945
- 144th Fighter Group, 25 June 1948
- 144th Fighter Wing, 31 October 1950
- 144th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, 1 October 1952
- 144th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 1 December 1952
- 144th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, 7 July 1955
- 144th Operations Group, 16 March 1992-Present
- Maurer, Maurer. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force: World War II. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1982.
- history of the 144th
- 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).
- 194th Fighter Squadron@f-16.net