125th Fighter Wing [125th FW]
The 125th Fighter Wing, Florida Air National Guard, is located at Jacksonville International Airport (IAP), FL, with a NORAD Alert Detachment at Homestead ARB, FL, and a team comprising 1100 citizen airmen and women.
The roots of the 125th Fighter Wing date back to the period following World War II when the unit was first organized as the 159th Fighter Squadron on 9 February 1947 with an initial strength of 18 personnel and was equipped with the P-51 Mustang. In 1948, the 159th became one of the first Air National Guard units to be equipped with jets when it converted to the F-80C Shooting Star.
The unit was called to active duty on 10 October 1950 as a result of the outbreak of the Korean Conflict. After a nine-month conversion from the F-80 to the F-84E Thunderjet, the unit deployed to Japan where it flew air defense missions over the Korean theater. In so doing, it became one of the first units to employ in-flight refueling operations in combat. The unit was released from active duty on 9 July 1952, returning home to be re-equipped with the F-51H Mustang.
During the remainder of the early 1950s, the 159th was equipped with a multitude of different aircraft, including the T-6, B-26, C-45, F51H, T-33, F-80, and F86A. By the end of 1954, the unit was equipped with an entire squadron of F-80s.
On 1 July 1956, the primary unit designation was changed to the 125th Fighter Interceptor Group, and the unit converted to the F-86D Super Sabre with the primary mission of air defense. In 1958, the 125th became the first Air National Guard unit to earn the right to compete in WILLIAM TELL, and was the first team ever to fire a perfect score in that competition.
In July 1960, the 125th converted from the F-86D to the all-weather, supersonic F-102A/B Delta Dagger, followed in July 1974 by a conversion to the F-106A/B Delta Dart. Only one year after the F-106 conversion, the unit again earned the right to compete in WILLIAM TELL '76.
In April 1987, the 125th converted to the F-16A/B, a multi-role fighter that was subsequently modified as the ADF-16 specifically designed for the Air Defense role. The unit was the first to assume NORAD Air Defense Alert with the F-16, the first operational ADF-16 unit to employ the AIM-7 missile, and the first ADF-16 unit to sit alert with the AIM-7 missile.
In June 1995, the 125th converted to the F-15 Eagle, a fighter which adds air superiority capability to the Air Defense Mission.
The 125th Fighter Wing has a dual mission - one state and one federal. The state mission is to provide trained and equipped personnel to protect life and property and to preserve peace, order, and public safety. The federal mission is to provide fully trained and qualified personnel to CINCNORAD in time of war or national emergency for the defense of the North American Continent. On a daily basis, the 125th is responsible for the maintenance of a NORAD Air Defense Alert site at Homestead ARB. In this capacity, the unit provides armed F-15 aircraft capable of intercepting, identifying, and, if necessary, destroying unknown aircraft which penetrate sovereign U.S. airspace. In the past, this threat has included Soviet Bear bombers, Cuban fighters, and narcotics traffickers.
Since conversion to the ADF-16, the 125th was the first operational NORAD Air Defense Alert, the first operational ADF-16 unit to employ the AIM-7 missile, the first ADF-16 unit to sit alert with the AIM-7, and the first unit to deploy to Howard AFB Panama, in support of JCS-directed operation CORONET NIGHTHAWK using enhanced identification tactics. In October 1995, the 125th became the first unit ever to complete a transition from one fourth generation fighter to another fourth generation fighter as it transitioned from the ADF-16 to the MSIP F-15. In April 1997, the 125th Fighter Wing became the first Air Defense Unit to employ as Blue Air in an Offensive Counter Air role, integrated with an active duty unit, during a flag exercise.
The unit was rated "Outstanding" during an Alert Force Evaluation by the North American Air Defense Inspector General in November 1997. This was the highest rating ever given by NORAD. In January 1998, the 125th Fighter Wing received an "Outstanding" on its Operational Readiness Inspection.
The unit also operates a C-26B in support of state and federal law enforcement agencies.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Mountain Home Air Force Base, ID. It would distribute the 366th Fighter Wing assigned F-15Cs (18 aircraft) to the 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville International Airport AGS, FL (six aircraft) and to two other locations. This recommendation would realign Mountain Home to fly only F-15Es, streamlining operations at a location that would be well suited for air-to-ground, low-level and air-to-air flight training.
DoD also recommended to close Otis ANGB, MA. The 102d Fighter Wing's F-15s would be distributed to the 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville International Airport Air Guard Station, FL (three aircraft) and another station. The Air Force distributed reserve component F-15C force structure to bases with higher military value than Otis (88).
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