Tucson Air National Guard Base
|Tucson Air National Guard Base|
|Part of Arizona Air National Guard (ANG)|
|Tucson International Airport, Arizona|
Main gate of Tucson Air National Guard Base
|Type||Air National Guard Base|
|Controlled by||United States Air Force|
|Garrison||162d Fighter Wing|
- 162d Operations Group
- Operations Support Flight
- 148th Fighter Squadron
- 152d Fighter Squadron
- 195th Fighter Squadron
- International Military Student Office (IMSO)
- 162d Maintenance Group
- 162d Medical Group
- 162d Mission Support Group
- Geographically Separated Units (at Davis-Monthan AFB)
- 162d Fighter Wing Alert Detachment
- Operation Snowbird
- 214th Reconnaissance Group
- FTU Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16 MLU Fighter Training Squadron
World War II
|This section requires expansion. (August 2013)|
Military use of the Tucson Airport began in 1956 when the Arizona Air National Guard activated the 152d Fighter Interceptor Squadron, an Air Defense Command (ADC)-gained unit, which operated Korean War vintage F-86A Sabres. At that time the "base" consisted of an old adobe farmhouse and a dirt-floor hangar with enough space for three aircraft.
Despite the facility limitations, the Air Defense Command's Fourth Air Force judged the 152d FIS outstanding in accomplishing its air defense mission. It declared the unit "Best in the West" in the 1950s and the early 1960s. Late in 1968, the unit received its first of five Air Force Outstanding Unit Citations for converting from the F-100 Super Sabre day fighter to the all-weather F-102 Delta Dagger interceptor aircraft in just 10 months. The unit did it faster and better than any other Air National Guard unit converting to the F-102. In 1969, the unit converted back to the F-100 and the Air National Guard officially redesignated the unit as the 162d Tactical Fighter Training Group with a subordinate 152d Tactical Fighter Squadron.
The unit's new mission was producing combat-ready pilots for the F-100 aircraft. They graduated their first students in 1970. Shortly afterward, the unit formed the Air National Guard Fighter Weapons School in Tucson. This school taught Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve fighter pilots from throughout the country to effectively use advanced tactics and weapons technology.
The unit received its second Air Force Outstanding Unit Citation for successfully continuing to train F-100 students while completing the most challenging conversion in the unit's history. That tasking was to convert from the F-100 to the A-7D Corsair II. The 195th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron was formed in 1983, equipped with the A-7D/K Corsair II. The mission of the 195th was to train combat-ready pilots for the Air National Guard.
The unit received its third Air Force Outstanding Unit Citation in the 1970s and began another dimension in training in 1983 when the unit added the A-7 Fighter Weapons School. During the 1980s the unit received its fourth Outstanding Unit Citation and the Spaatz Trophy. The Spaatz trophy recognized the 162nd Fighter Wing as the outstanding Air National Guard unit in the United States. In 1985, the unit began a unique dual training mission in the F-16 and A-7 aircraft when the 148th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron was activated on 15 October 1985.
In 1987, the Group was awarded the "Sistema de Cooperacion Entre Las Fuerzas Aereas Americanas (SICOFAA)," the Safety Award of the Americas. In 1989 the Netherlands and the United States formally agreed to use the 162nd Fighter Group's first-rate facilities and people to train Dutch fighter pilots in the F-16 aircraft. In 1990. the unit received its fifth Air Force Outstanding Unit Citation, while the mid-summer of 1991 saw the retirement of all its A-7D aircraft. The last A-7 class graduated in July 1991, after which the group converted to the F-16A/B Block 10 Fighting Falcon and continued the same Replacement Training Unit (RTU) mission it had been tasked for previously. The Air National Guard also began to train non-NATO pilots and six aircraft from the 148th TFTS were designated to begin a school for those students. This group of aircraft and an initial cadre of instructors formed what would later become IMT (International Military Training), although the de facto squadron had no official number or designation at the time.
The 1990s and Beyond
In April 1992, the Group's international training mission began a major expansion, training fighter pilots for the Republic of Singapore, followed in 1993 by Bahrain, Portugal in 1994, and Thailand, Indonesia and Turkey in 1995. The unit was designated as the 162d Fighter Wing (162 FW) in October 1995 and became operationally-gained by the Air Education and Training Command (AETC). The international training mission continued to expand, adding Belgium in 1996 followed by Jordan and Norway in the first half of 1997. Denmark began training here in June 1998, and Japan began training in late 1998. Italy sent their first pilot to Tucson in October 2000, Greece began training here in January 2001 and the United Arab Emirates sent their first students here in August 2001. Oman and Poland both began sending students here in 2004. Other nations who have trained or are currently training in Tucson are Israel, Italy, Chile and Taiwan. Additional nations are currently negotiating training programs with the 162nd FW.
In addition to the training done at the Tucson ANGB, the 162 FW conducts training at individual client nations. Mobile Training Teams have conducted classes in numerous countries around the world, most recently in Turkey, the Netherlands, Thailand and Poland. The Thailand Mobile Training Team conducted the unit's premier international training course, known as the Advanced Weapons Course. This program provides "graduate-level" training to assist allied nations in meeting their need for highly trained F-16 pilots.
On June 9, 1997, the wing embarked on a new mission, training international maintenance technicians on F-16 systems. Jordan sent the first six of nearly 60 technicians to observe and learn 162nd Fighter Wing maintenance techniques so they can emulate what they learn here at their home stations. The training they receive here supplements the technical training they received from the aircraft manufacturer. Italy and the United Arab Emirates have also sent their technicians to Tucson for maintenance training.
From October 1998 until August 1999, the unit conducted a program to convert three former Air Defense units to the general-purpose role. This air-to-ground training program taught current F-16 air defense pilots how to employ the F-16 in the ground attack mission. Air defense units from the Vermont, New Jersey, Texas and California Air National Guard transferred eight F-16Cs/Ds to the 162nd FW. These aircraft were used to train nearly 60 pilots from the three air defense units. Maintenance people from these states also provided maintenance support for these aircraft under 162nd FW supervision.
The War on Terror
The September 11 attacks brought immediate change to the 162nd Fighter Wing. Within hours of the first attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the 162nd FW placed F-16 aircraft on alert. In the days and weeks that followed, the wing was a part of this new air defense mission, dubbed Operation Noble Eagle.
The unit received its sixth Outstanding Unit Award in 2003 for mobilizing more than 300 personnel to support the North American Air Defense Command's Operation Noble Eagle, providing more than 50 personnel to support Central Command's Operation Enduring Freedom, for supporting Joint Forge, Coronet Oak, Coronet Nighthawk and providing personnel to Southern Command and European Command.
The 162 FW now flies the F-16C/D and the newer F-16E/F "Fighting Falcon" aircraft, plus a single C-26A "Metroliner" light transport aircraft. On June 27, 2004, the 162nd Fighter Wing and the United Arab Emirates initiated a unique training program. The UAE F-16 Training Program is a dedicated F-16 squadron, the 148th Fighter Squadron. The squadron will operate in the long-term with 13 F-16E/F (Block 60) aircraft, with the first aircraft having arrived on Sept. 2, 2004.
Along with the Homeland Defense mission, the 162 FW continues its primary mission of International F-16 Pilot Training, adding new countries every year. The 162nd Fighter Wing now features new modern buildings, up-to-date equipment and updated technology to keep pace with its rapidly changing roles and missions.