The Air Force Reserve 917th Wing based at Barksdale AFB LA is a composite wing which operates both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the B-52H Stratofortress. The mission of the 47th Fighter Squadron is to train student pilots to fly the A-10. The primary mission of the 93rd Bomb Squadron is to conduct strategic heavy bombardment and maritime operations in the B-52.
On Dec. 7, 1993, the 917th Wing at Barksdale became the first Reserve unit equipped with B-52 Stratofortresses when eight bombers arrived. The Air Force relies more and more on the talents of Air Force reservists to perform its missions and to do it for less if possible. Louisiana's 47th Fighter Squadron is one of the 917th Wing's two flying units; the other flies B-52s. The Squadron is a replacement training unit for A-10 pilots.
The 917th Wing was originally formed as the 917th Troop Carrier Group on Jan. 17, 1963, at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and was assigned to the 435th Troop Carrier Wing. Its mission was to administer and support its assigned 78th Troop Carrier Squadron which was equipped with C-124s.
On July 1, 1963, both the group and squadron were reassigned to the 442nd Troop Carrier Wing because their new gaining command, Military Air Transport Service, wanted all five Air Force Reserve C-124 Groups assigned to the same wing. The units were reassigned to the 512th Troop Carrier Wing on March 25, 1965.
Reflecting similar changes in the active force, the 917th was redesignated twice - to the 917th Air Transport Group in 1965, and then to the 917th Military Airlift Group in 1966. The 917th Military Airlift Group was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its exceptional safety record of more than 55,000 accident-free flying hours and global support missions.
As the A-37 Dragonfly conversion began on April 13, 1971, the group was reassigned to the 434th Special Operations Wing. On April 26, 1972, the unit was redesignated the 917th Special Operations Group, with Tactical Air Command as the gaining major air command.
As the hardware and missions changed, the unit was redesignated the 917th Tactical Fighter Group on October 1, 1973. The 78th Troop Carrier Squadron was subsequently deactivated and replaced by the 47th Tactical Fighter Squadron.
Assigned to the 434th Tactical Fighter Wing at Grissom Air Force Base, Ind., the 917th reached combat-ready status 45 days ahead of schedule and garnered honors as the first fighter group in the Air Force Reserve to achieve this distinction.
When the A-37B Dragonfly was eventually phased out, the group converted to the A-10 Thunderbolt II airframe. The 917th TFG assumed replacement-training responsibilities on October 1, 1983. This ultimately led to the creation of the 46th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, in addition to the 926th Tactical Fighter Group in New Orleans, La.
Due to Air Force restructuring in June 1992, Tactical Air Command was combined with Strategic Air Command to form Air Combat Command. The 917th Tactical Fighter Wing joined Air Combat Command and "Tactical" was dropped from its name.
On Oct. 1, 1993, the 917th Fighter Wing saw important changes once again. The 46th Fighter Training Squadron was deactivated when the active-duty Air Force took control of all fighter replacement training. On this same day, the 917th became the first unit in Air Force Reserve history to acquire a strategic mission: B-52s were added to the wing make-up and the 93rd Bomb Squadron was activated. Now a composite wing, the 917th dropped "Fighter" from its name and became the 917th Wing.
In December 1993, the wing deployed its aircraft, personnel and equipment to Aviano Air Base, Italy, to support the United Nations' no-fly rule over Bosnia-Herzegovina. Dubbed "Operation Deny Flight," the 917th returned to Aviano Air Base in August 1994 and again in May 1995 to uphold the U.N. ban on military flights in the Bosnia-Herzegovina airspace.
In November 1995, the 917th Wing was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, for exceptionally meritorious service during deployments to support Operation Deny Flight and successfully converting a fighter unit to the Reserve's first heavy bomber unit.
Currently, the 917th Wing hosts one other Reserve unit at Barksdale: Detachment I, 307th Civil Engineering Squadron, RED HORSE (Rapid Engineering Deployable, Heavy Operational Repair Squadron, Engineer).
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Eielson Air Force Base, AK. Some of the 354th Fighter Wing's assigned A-10 aircraft (located at Eielson AFB) would be distributed to the 917th Wing Barksdale Air Force Base (three aircraft). This recommendation was made because, although a base with high military value, Eielson was an expensive base to maintain.
In another Recommendation, DoD recommended to realign NAS New Orleans ARS, LA. It would distribute the 926th Fighter Wing's A-10 aircraft to the 442d Fighter Wing (AFR), Whiteman AFB, MO (nine aircraft), and the 917th Wing (AFR) at Barksdale AFB (six aircraft).
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