188th Fighter Wing [188th FW]
The origin of the 188th Fighter Wing traces back to October 15, 1953, when the 184th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was originated and federally recognized at Fort Smith, Arkansas. Dubbed "Rick's Rippers" in honor of Maj. Gen. Earl T. Ricks, former Adjutant General and highly decorated World War II Air Force pilot from Arkansas, the unit's first roll call was answered by 19 officers and 93 enlisted personnel.
The squadron's first mission was reconnaissance, flying the RB-26, a twin engine modified bomber. In 1956, the 184th transitioned to the RF-80 jet aircraft with a daylight photography mission. The following year brought their first swept-wing jet, the RF-84F. The unit continued to grow and was re-designated the 188th Tactical Reconnaissance Group on October 15, 1962. In 1970, the 188th converted to the RF-101 and continued its reconnaissance mission until 1972 when they received the F-100 and became the 188th Tactical Fighter Group. In 1976, the group became known as the Flying Razorbacks and was assigned the F-4C Phantom in April 1979.
The 188th TFG was activated for one year during the Berlin Crisis of 1961, supported the Vietnamese airlift in 1975, and the Cuban boatlift in 1980. Time and again the 188th has proven itself in peacetime competition with other Air Force units, both active and reserve. The group has represented the Air National Guard three times in the worldwide Air Force "GUNSMOKE" competitions at Nellis AFB, Nevada, winning top awards in the F-4 categories in 1983.
The 188th entered the era of high technology on July 1, 1988, with delivery of the F-16 Fighting Falcon, recognized as the world's finest multi-role fighter. On October 15, 1988, the 188th celebrated its formal F-16 acceptance and the group's 35th anniversary.
As a result of restructuring within the Air Force and Air National Guard, the 188th Tactical Fighter Group was re-designated as the 188th Fighter Group on March 16, 1992 and subsequently named the 188th Fighter Wing on October 1, 1995.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Fort Smith Municipal Airport (MAP) Air Guard Station (AGS), AR. DoD would distribute the 188th Fighter Wing's (ANG) F-16s to the 144th Fighter Wing (ANG) Fresno Air Terminal AGS, CA (seven aircraft) and retire the remainder (eight aircraft). As part of a larger recommendation that would also realign Luke AFB, AZ, DoD claimed that military value, coupled with homeland defense, was the predominant reason for these recommendations. The Air Force recommendation would realign 15 aircraft from Fort Smith (110) to Fresno (87), which would support the homeland defense Air Sovereignty Alert mission. Additionally, this recommendation would help align the eight different F-16 models across the Air Force. Finally, this recommendation would make experienced Airmen available to support the new ANG flying training unit created at Little Rock Air Force Base, AR.
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