159th Fighter Squadron [159th FS]
The 159th Fighter Squadron (159 FS) is a unit of the Florida Air National Guard 125th Fighter Wing located at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base, Florida. The 159th is equipped with the F-15C Eagle. The 159th Fighter Squadron, Florida Air National Guard, had a NORAD Alert Detachment at Homestead ARB, FL, and a team comprising 1100 citizen airmen and women.
The Air National Guard?s role has evolved substantially since its creation in 1947, the same year elements of the Army Air Corps were designated the U.S. Air Force. The guard has performed in each of the nation?s major conflicts since the Korean War, rotating into combat areas to relieve and sometimes bolster the ranks of active duty troops. Since the early 1990s, the Guard has taken on an increasingly active role to help shoulder the burden of military cut-backs and increasing needs across the globe. For instance, the ANG maintains air defense sector responsibility across the United States on a 365-day basis.
In April 1950 Air National Guard teams participated in the annual U.S. Air Force Gunnery Meet for the first time, The Air Guard was authorized two teams in the competition which was held at Las Vegas, Nevada. Utah’s 191st Fighter Squadron, flying F-51s, finished fourth in the conventional aircraft class. Florida’s 159th Fighter Squadron, operating F-80s, finished eighth in the jet aircraft class.
On 10 October 1950 the first ANG units were mobilized during the Korean War. This was seen as a temporary expedient by the Air Force which planned to demobilize them by April 1951.169 Flying squadrons called up on that date were the: 111th Fighter Squadron (FS), Texas; 112th Bomb Squadron (Light), Ohio; 125th FS, Oklahoma; 127th FS, Kansas; 128th FBS, Georgia; 154th FS, Arkansas; 156th FS, North Carolina; 157th FS, South Carolina; 158th FS, Georgia; 159th FS, Florida; 160th FS, Alabama; 165th FS Kentucky; 167th Fighter Bomber Squadron (FBS), West Virginia; 182nd FS, Texas; and the 196th FBS, California.170 All of those units were assigned to the Tactical Air Command.
In April 1951 units of the Air Guard’s mobilized 116th Fighter Bomber Wing – Georgia’s 158th Fighter Bomber Squadron (FBS), Florida’s 159th FBS, and California’s 196th FBS -- began receiving brand new Republic F-84Es direct from the factory. On 10 & 12 July 1951. The Air Guard’s 116th Fighter Bomber Wing -- consisting of the 158th Fighter Bomber Squadron (FBS), Georgia, 159th FBS, Florida, and the 196th FBS, California -- departed San Diego, California for Japan with their F-84Es aboard the aircraft carriers USS Windham Bay and USS Stikoh Bay.
On 28 November 1951 elements of the Florida ANG’s 159th Fighter Bomber Squadron, including 13 F-84s, arrived at Teague AB, Korea from Japan for a short combat tour and began flying combat missions that same day. They bombed rail lines near Wonsan, North Korea as part of the campaign to interdict the flow of communist supplies to the battle front.
Upon its release from active duty, the unit returned on 9 July 1952, with their new commander to Imeson Municipal Airport. The unit’s F-84Es and all its ground equipment were turned over to the U.S. Air Force and left in Japan. On 10 July 1952, the 159th Fighter Squadron, Jet Propelled, was re-designated the 159th Fighter Bomber Squadron, dissolving the 159th Utility Flight and integrating it into the unit. Six months later, the 159th Fighter Bomber Squadron was re-equipped with F-51H Mustangs and re-designated the 159th Fighter Bomber Squadron Augmented (159 FBSA). From October to December 1954, the 159 FBSA was equipped with nine different types of aircraft such as the T-6 Texan, B-26 Invader, C-45 Expeditor, C-47 Skytrain, C-54 Skymaster, F-51H Mustang, T-33 Shooting Star, F-80 Shooting Star, and F-86A Sabre. By the end of December 1954, things settled down and the 159 FBSA had an entire squadron of F-80Cs for the second time. There were 43 officers and warrant officers and 472 enlisted men in the unit.
In July 1955, while still equipped with F-80Cs, the unit was re-designated the 159th Fighter Interceptor Squadron (159 FIS), with a mission change to Air Defense. By 1 July 1956, the parent unit reorganized into 125th Fighter Interceptor Group (125 FIG) and both organizations were operationally-gained by Air Defense Command (ADC). The activation of the 125th coincided with the conversion to the F-86D Sabre, an all-weather interceptor. The F-86 made the 125th a self-sustaining unit capable of performing the Air Defense mission in all types of weather, day or night. In 1959 and 1960, the 125th underwent two aircraft conversions which greatly increased the unit’s inventory and operational costs. In June 1959, the unit converted from the F-86D to the F-86L Sabre. Another major conversion began 1 July 1960, when the unit converted from the F-86L to the F-102A Delta Dagger supersonic fighter.
In the 1960s, the 159 FIS and 125 FIG would also see their operating location change. Due to its limited ability to handle newer commercial jet aircraft, the local government officials in Jacksonville and Duval County in the early 1960s determined that Imeson Airport would need to be replaced by a newer, larger airport with a greater capability for accommodating jet airliner traffic and long term growth. With the scaling back and ultimate closure of Imeson Airport, and its replacement by the new Jacksonville International Airport during 1967 and 1968, the 125 FIG and 159 FIS subsequently relocated to a newly constructed Air National Guard installation at the new airport and was fully in place and operational by 1968. That same year, the active USAF gaining command's name was changed to Aerospace Defense Command (ADC).
The 159th Fighter Squadron 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.
The squadron primarily flies the single seat F-15C Eagle aircraft, along with a smaller number of twin-seat F-15D, in the air superiority/air dominance role. As part of the Florida Air National Guard, the 159 FS and 125 FW report to the 1st Air Force (1 AF) and are operationally-gained by the U.S. Air Force's Air Combat Command (ACC). The squadron is based at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base at Jacksonville International Airport, Florida and also maintains a permanent rotational alert detachment at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida.
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