419th Fighter Wing [419th FW]
The 419th Fighter Wing, located at Hill AFB, UT, is one of more than 40 flying units in the U.S. Air Force Reserve. It was the first Reserve unit to fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the only Air Force Reserve unit in Utah. The mission of the wing is to provide gaining commands a ready, fighting force through recruiting, equipping and training for worldwide combat. To accomplish that mission, the wing trains and equips an F-16 squadron to be capable of worldwide mobility to perform a wide variety of air-to-air and air-to-ground fighter missions. In 2005 however, the Department of Defense recommended to distribute the 419th's F-16 between several fighter wings (see BRAC below for details).
The Air Force Reserve has maintained a flying mission at Hill AFB for more than 45 years. When activated in March 1947, the 419th Group was earmarked to control seven Reserve units, the first of which was a rescue squadron. Within two years, the 419th Group had gained several components, spanning five separate locations and three Air Force organizations.
Group pilots trained until March 1951 when training ceased and the entire 419th prepared for entry into active service. Activated in July 1956 as a component of the Regular Air Force, the group and its three squadrons trained in C-123 assault airlift operations. Over the next several years, the wing logged missions in the T-33, F-80, F-84, C-119, C-124 and C-46 aircraft.
In 1972, the Air Force Reserve modernization program added fighter aircraft which resulted in the unit gaining F-105 Thunderchief aircraft. Consequently, the unit was redesignated the 508th Fighter Group.
On October 1, 1982, the unit was upgraded from a group to a wing, being redesignated the 419th Tactical Fighter Wing. It was the last operational F-105 unit in the Air Force until its conversion to F-16s in January 1984. Adding to its list of milestones, the 419th achieved the top team award in the Gunsmoke '85 Air Force Worldwide Fighter Gunnery Meet, as well as Top Gun and other distinguished recognition at Gunsmoke '87.
During the Persian Gulf Crisis (1991-1992), more than 100 members of the 419th FW were called to active duty in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. They served in Saudi Arabia, Europe and various locations stateside.
Approximately 350 members of the 419th FW served at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, in support of Operation Provide Comfort II from December 3, 1994 through February 16, 1995. In 1996, the 419th had the first-ever Reservist team attending William Tell, an air-to-air competition. The following year, the wing once again demonstrated its combat capability in a return trip to Incirlik AB to support Operation Northern Watch. When the smoke cleared, 419th pilots had logged more than 203 missions over the skies of Iraq.
The 419th FW's deployment to Incirlik AB, Turkey, in June 1999 was a milestone for the command. For the first time, Reserve pilots supported a contingency operation by employing precision-guided munitions. Aviators from the 419th logged a total of 84 sorties throughout the 38-day deployment.
During peacetime, the 419th reports to 10th Air Force, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, TX. When mobilized for active duty, the wing's aircraft and most of its personnel are assigned to Air Combat Command's 12th Air Force. Members of the 419th's 67th Aerial Port Squadron are assigned to Air Mobility Command when mobilized and the 419th Combat Logistics Support Squadron is assigned to Air Force Materiel Command.
The 419th Fighter Wing is comprised of approximately 1,500 personnel and 15 F-16 fighter aircraft. Most of the wing's personnel are Reservists who routinely cover contingency deployments while also supporting daily flying operations stateside. The 419th is authorized about 275 air reserve technicians and civilians, who work full-time and provide continuity between reserve training periods. Training for 419th Reservists includes mobility exercises, deployments, monthly weekend training and annual tours-when reservists are brought on active-duty status for at least 15 days every year.
The 419th Fighter Wing is divided into three subordinate groups which supervise nine squadrons and two flights. The 419th Operations Group plans and organizes operational programs and establishes policies and procedures for operational training functions. It directs, monitors and supports various operational programs, including flight operations, standardization/evaluation, weapons and tactics, intelligence, operations and training and life support. The wing's designated flying squadron is the 466th Fighter Squadron. It is authorized 15 F-16C/D model aircraft.
Elements of the 419th Fighter Wing deployed in October 2001 to the Middle East as part of a regularly scheduled aerospace expeditionary force rotation to enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. While there, the reservists also began flying combat missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan. Throughout the 90-day deployment, the reservists flew between nine and 15 hours a day.
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Hill AFB. It would distribute the 419th Fighter Wing's F-16s to the 482d Fighter Wing, Homestead Air Reserve Base, FL (six aircraft) and the 301st Fighter Wing, NAS JRB Fort Worth, TX (nine aircraft). The AFMC F-16s at Hill would remain in place.
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