192nd Fighter Wing [192nd FW]
The history of the 192nd FW stretches back to World War II. In May 1946, the Pentagon reactivated and redesignated the 328th Fighter Squadron, a heroic WWII unit. The 328th had been organized at Mitchell Field, New York, on Oct. 10, 1942, and saw action in the European theater. Battle honors included a Presidential Unit Citation and the French Croix de Guerre with Palm. Newly designated as the 149th Fighter Squadron, the unit was assigned to the Virginia Air National Guard, which earned official recognition from the National Guard Bureau in June 1947. The 149th Fighter Squadron was entitled to the history, honors, and colors of the 328th.
The unit's first aircraft was the F-47 Thunderbolt. The unit was called to active federal service on March 1, 1951. This activation temporarily resulted in the dissolution of the Virginia Air National Guard, as members were sent to various places, including for many, duty in the Korean War.
The Virginia Air National Guard was reorganized in November 1953 as a B-26 bomber outfit. In 1957, the unit was redesignated the 149th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and was scheduled to get F-86E Saberjets. However, later that year, the unit became the 149th Tactical Fighter Squadron, and F-84F Thunderstreaks began replacing the B-26.
At the height of the Cold War in 1961, the squadron was federalized as a result of tensions concerning the Berlin Wall. The squadron remained at Richmond in an active-duty status for about a year before being released. Twenty-two Virginia ANG members were sent to Chaumont AFB, France, in December 1961 to support the 7180th Tactical Fighter Wing, a deployed unit of the 108th Tactical Fighter Wing. They spent eight months in Europe.
In October 1962, the unit was redesignated as the 192nd Tactical Fighter Group, with the 149th TFS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons in the group were the 192nd Group Headquarters, 192nd Materiel Squadron (Maintenance), 192nd Combat Support Squadron, and the 192nd USAF Dispensary.
During 1971, the 192nd was assigned the F-105D Thunderchief, a battle-hardened supersonic fighter-bomber that was the backbone of America's fighter element during the Vietnam War. The group's special tasking during the next 10 years included several deployments to Red Flag live-fire exercises in Nevada and a deployment to RAF Lakenheath, England, in 1976.
In 1981, the unit began converting to the Vought A-7D Corsair II, a subsonic jet designed primarily for close-air support. The 10-year A-7 era included several deployments to Panama in support of the defense of the Panama Canal and two trips to Norway - in 1985 and 1989.
The year 1985 was a particularly busy one internationally for the 192nd. Shortly after finishing a deployment to Ecuador, the 192nd deployed in September to Evenes Air Station, Norway, 150 miles above the Arctic Circle. A few weeks later, a Virginia contingent competed in Gunsmoke '85, the Air Force's tactical fighter competition, and the 192nd was named the world's "Best A-7 Unit".
The 192nd also earned the General Spruance Safety Award and was recognized as having had the best Operational Readiness Inspection in the Ninth Air Force during 1985. That string of accomplishments helped the 192nd earn its first-ever USAF Outstanding Unit Award, which was presented in 1987.
The unit soared into a new era of aviation technology in 1991, when it became the first Air National Guard unit to receive the Air Force's upgraded Fighting Falcon -- The F-16C/D. The unit was initially assigned 24 single-seat F-16C models and two F-16D models. By early 1994, defense cutbacks had reduced the unit's assigned inventory to 18 F-16s, and eventually to 15. Conversion to the F-16 airframe required the 192nd to build a $2 million "hush house," a special noise-suppression hangar in which the jets' engines could be tested without bothering neighbors.
The 192nd's designation shortened during 1992 -- from 192nd Tactical Fighter Group to 192nd Fighter Group. This change reflected the retirement of the former Tactical Air Command and creation of the multi-role mission of the new Air Combat Command.
After the 192nd FG became fully operational with the F-16, it was chosen as the lead unit in a four-state Air National Guard F-16 "rainbow" detachment deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, to support Operation Provide Comfort II. During that operation between Dec. 1, 1993, and Jan. 15, 1994, ANG pilots patrolled the no-fly zone over northern Iraq to prevent Iraqi forces from inflicting damage on the villages of Kurdish minorities. This was the first time Air National Guard units had been called to active duty to serve in a peacekeeping role in the Mideast, following Iraq's defeat in 1991. The unit returned to Incirlik in February 1996 for another round of patrols over Iraq.
During October 1995, the 192nd's designation was again slightly modified to reflect unit restructuring within the Air Force and Air National Guard. This time the unit designation was changed from 192nd Fighter Group to 192nd Fighter Wing.
In addition to its customary mission of training for war, the 192nd performed as a test base for higher headquarters by taking on two new, diverse projects in 1995. At the direction of the commander of Air Combat Command, in January the 192nd became a test regional repair center for F-16 engines. The 18-month assignment called for the 192nd propulsion section to strip and rebuild General Electric F110-GE-100 engines for its own F-16s as well as for F-16s assigned to Pope AFB, NC. With Pope designated to become a composite wing with several types of aircraft, ACC officials sought more efficient and economical ways of providing maintenance for its F-16 engines. By setting up a regional repair center at the 192nd, the Air Force aimed to reduce the number of F-16 maintenance people needed in this region, consolidate their training, reduce duplication of resources and equipment, and lower maintenance costs per flying hour.
While that project was underway, the 192nd was selected to evaluate and bring on line a new, portable reconnaissance pod designed for F-16s to take on the added mission of aerial reconnaissance. The RF-4C, which had been the Air Force's manned reconnaissance aircraft, was retired in October 1995. The Air Force initially decided to discontinue its manned reconnaissance program but reversed itself. To provide maximum flexibility, it decided to see whether reconnaissance pods could be added to fighter aircraft, giving operational units the additional function of reconnaissance. The 192nd Fighter Wing was selected to test the capability of electro-optical "recce" pods. After becoming mission capable with the pods in April 1996, the fighter wing deployed to Aviano AB, Italy, in May 1996 for the first real-world contingency use of the new pods and computerized imaging equipment. For 45 days, the 192nd FW flew "recce" missions over Bosnia, in support of international peacekeeping efforts there.
Due to the unit's accomplishments and results during an Air Force Quality Assessment during 1996, the wing was awarded its second Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in December '96. 1997 marked the 50th anniversary of the Virginia Air National Guard.
The mission of the 192nd Fighter Wing was to maintain the highest possible degree of combat readiness so as to be an effective combat unit to the U.S. Air Force upon mobilization. It is to execute directed tactical fighter missions designed to destroy enemy military forces, supplies, equipment, communications systems and installations. The 192nd Fighter Wing's gaining command is the Ninth Air Force, based at Shaw AFB, SC. In 2005, however, DoD recommended to distribute the 192nd's aircraft among two other units and to relocate its manpower elsewhere (see below for details).
The 192nd FW is based at Richmond International Airport, located about seven miles east of downtown Richmond, Virginia, and two miles from the eastern intersection of Interstates 64 and 295. The 192nd flies F-16C and D jet fighters.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Richmond International Airport AGS, VA. It would Distribute the 192d Fighter Wing's F-16s to the 132d Fighter Wing, Des Moines IAP AGS, IA (six aircraft); 482d Fighter Wing Homestead ARB, FL (three aircraft) and to backup inventory (six aircraft). Richmond IAP AGS real property accountability would transfer to the Department of the Army. The 192nd Fighter Wing's manpower would associate with the 1st Fighter Wing.
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