UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


22nd Air Refueling Wing [22nd ARW]

Assigned to the Air Mobility Command, the 22nd Air Refueling Wing is the host unit at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Commanded by Colonel Frederick Roggero, the wing consists of four groups: the 22nd Operations Group, 22nd Logistics Group, 22nd Support Group and the 22nd Medical Group.

The 22nd ARW is also the Operational Command Unit of the 931st Air Refueling Group, administratively assigned to the 507th Air Refueling Wing, Fourth Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command. The 931st ARG is the first Associate air-refueling unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. As an associate unit, the 931st does not have operational control of the KC-135R aircraft. Instead, the host unit at McConnell AFB, the 22nd ARW, provides a designated number of aircraft for mission taskings assigned to the 931st. Upon mobilization of the 931st ARG, the 22nd ARW and the Air Mobility Command would gain the 931st.

It was historically constituted as the 22nd Bombardment Group (Medium) on December 22, 1939 and made active on February 1, 1940, at Mitchell Field, NY. The group served under the 2d Bombardment Wing. Made up of the 19th, 20th, 33rd Bombardment Squadrons and the 18th Reconnaissance Squadron, the group trained with the B-18 and B-26 bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. In November 1940 the group moved to Langley Field, VA. While at Langley, the 22nd trained in bombardment, reconnaissance, and sea surveillance. The 22nd's crews also carried out operational missions, maintaining surveillance of the German submarines that patrolled off the American east coast. The unit began deploying to Muroc Bombing Range, California, within 18 hours after the attack. Seventy-two hours after Pearl Harbor, the 22nd began flying anti-submarine operations over the Pacific Ocean.

In February 1942, The group's B-26s were crated and shipped to Hickam Field, Hawaii. Once there, technicians reassembled and tested the aircraft. In late March the 22nd started its 3,480 journey to Australia, making it the longest mass deployment of an intact bomb group. On April 5, 1942, the group launched its first combat mission from bases in Australia. This action made the 22nd the first bomb unit to engage the enemy. The unit used its B-26 bombers to attack enemy shipping, installations and airfields in New Guinea and New Britain. The group also bombed troop concentrations, installations, and enemy merchant marine shipping in New Guinea. On November 5, 1943, the group bombed enemy entrenchments, near Dumpu and Wewak, aiding Australian ground force's efforts to liberate the island. This operation earned the 22nd its second Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC).

By replacing its B-25s and B-26s with B-24s in February 1944, the group became the 22nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) making it the only known Army Air Forces/Air Force unit to engage the enemy with distinction in three different types of aircraft. The group also gained the nickname "Red Raiders" named after the group commander's, Col. Richard W. Robertson, first B-24. Equipped with B-24s and operating from new bases in New Guinea, the 22nd attacked Japanese airfields, shipping and oil fields and installations in Borneo, Ceram and Halmahera. In September 1944, the group attacked the Japanese bases in the southern Philippines in preparation for the allied invasion of the island of Leyte. From December 1944 to August 1945, the Raiders attacked airfields and bases on the island of Luzon, the largest of the Philippine islands and location of the Capitol, in support of the allied forces' effort to liberate the islands. In addition, the group supported Australian ground forces on Borneo and bombed railways and industries in Formosa (today known as Taiwan or Republic of China) and China (Mainland China or Peoples Republic of China). The unit moved to Motobu, Okinawa, and flew reconnaissance missions over southern Japan.

After the war, the 22nd remained in the theater under Far East Air Forces, Pacific Air Forces' predecessor. In November 1945, the 22nd moved without personnel and equipment to Clark Field, Philippines. In April 1946, the group became the 22nd Bombardment Group (Very Heavy), and returned to Okinawa-- this time, to Kadena Air Base. The following month, the unit replaced their older planes for B-29 Superfortresses and remanned in June 1946. The group remained at Kadena until it moved to Smoky Hills AFB, near Salina, Kan. in May 1948. Like other combat groups during the now independent Air Force's first reorganization, the 22nd became subordinate to a newly created wing with the same number designation. On 1 August 1948, the Group joined the newly created the 22nd Maintenance and Supply Group and the 22nd Air Base Group that made up the newly established the 22nd Bombardment Wing. In 1952, the Air Force reorganized, inactivating the groups.

After the Cold War, Air Force planners looked back to the first organization, what they called the objective wing, to restructure the Air Force in the post Cold War era. One result of this was the activation of the 22nd Bombardment Wing on August 1, 1948 at Smoky Hill AFB, Kan.; the wing sharing its commander with the 301st Bombardment Wing until the 22nd moved to March AFB, Calif., on May 9, 1949. There, the 22nd had a commander in common with the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing until the fighter unit moved to George AFB, Calif., the next year.

In July 1950, the wing deployed its B-29s to Okinawa, Ryukyu Islands, to participate in the Korean War. Operating from their island base, the 22nd's Superfortresses bombed North Korean marshaling yards, airfields and industries. The unit also provided air support to United Nations ground forces defending the South Korean nation from the communist invaders. After eliminating all of its assigned strategic targets, the 22nd returned to March AFB in October 1950. In 1952, the wing added the KC-97 Stratofreighter tanker to its inventory. The next year, the wing retired its B-29 fleet and replaced them with the jet powered B-47 "Stratojet." With this 600 mile-per-hour plane, wing aircrews flew the longest non-stop mass flight in history. It happened in 1954 when the 22nd's crews flew 5,840 miles from England to California. The 22nd Air Refueling Wing converted to the KC-135 Stratotanker, a jet refueling tanker developed from the Boeing 707 airframe and the B-52B Stratofortress. By late 1963, the wing had finished converting its bomber and tanker fleet to and assumed strategic alert status a short time later.

The Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 brought the 22nd into its third major conflict in as many decades. The wing's KC-135s refueled Tactical Air Command aircraft deploying to Southeast Asia, and supported Strategic Air Command bombers on rotation to Anderson AFB, Guam. During the war in Vietnam, the 22nd Bombardment Wing deployed aircraft and crews several times, participating in operations such as Young Tiger, Rolling Thunder, Arc Light, and Linebacker II. In March 1973, the wing received an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its operations in Southeast Asia--the fourth in its history before returned to nuclear deterrence alert at the war's end.

In August 1982, the wing received the first of its fleet of new KC-10A Extenders, making the 22nd the second Air Force unit to use the giant new tankers. Two months later, the wing lost its bomber mission and became the 22nd Air Refueling Wing. The 22nd used the KC-10A's cargo, passenger, and fuel load capacity to provide support during the evacuation of U.S. nationals in Grenada the next year. In December 1989, the wing's 22nd Air Refueling Squadron inactivated and all its KC-135A Stratotankers, retired or transferred to other SAC bases. This left the 6th and 9th ARS's as the wing's only flying squadrons.

In August 1990, more than 6,000 Marines processed through March AFB, en route to the Middle East in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

After the Gulf War the Air Force's senior leadership and planners, learned that "tactical" and "strategic" assets could successfully be used interchangeably. This information and the budget constraints forced Air Force leaders to consolidated its major commands from 13 to 10. On June 1, 1992, SAC inactivated. The Tactical Air Command gained SAC's bomber fleet and became Air Combat Command. The 22nd and other tanker units joined Military Airlift Command's airlift fleet, forming the Air Mobility Command. Air Force Space Command gained SAC's Intercontinental Ballistic Missile forces.

In 1993, the Air Force turned its support toward the humanitarian assistance effort in Somalia in Operation Restore Hope. To support this tasking, the 22 ARW used its KC-10s to deploy 12,000 Marines and provide air refueling to Allied aircraft. Also in that year, the Congressional Base Realignment and Closure Commission and Department of Defense announced their recommendations for further base realignment and force restructuring. The plans called for transferring March AFB to the Air Force Reserve and moving the 6th and 9th ARS's and their KC-10s to move to Travis AFB, Calif. At the same time, USAF ordered the 22 ARW to replace the 384th Bomb Wing at McConnell AFB, Kan.

On January 3, 1994, the 22nd succeeded the 384th BW as McConnell's host unit. The bomber unit served as an associate unit until it transferred its B-1 Lancer fleet to the 184th Bomb Group, Kansas Air National Guard before inactivating in September 1994. The 384th Air Refueling Squadron, a geographically separated unit of the 19th Air Refueling Wing (Robins AFB, Geo.) and a previous McConnell tenant unit, joined the 22 ARW as the first of four KC-135 squadrons to comprise the wing's new tanker force. Within eight months, the 344th, 349th and the 350th joined the 384th to fly the wing's 48 KC-135s to provide global reach for America.

The same year, the 22nd supported contingencies worldwide. The wing's units participated in Operations Deny Flight Support Hope, Maintain Democracy and Vigilant Warrior. The 22nd ARW continues to lead by continuing to support contingencies such as NORTHERN WATCH, SOUTHERN WATCH. More recently DESERT FOX and NOBLE ANVIL in addition to providing refueling and cargo support to various exercises, drug interdiction operations, channel missions, and deployments.

Other wing accomplishments include being the lead unit in testing adopting the Multi point refueling system, allowing the wing to provide refueling services to U.S. Navy and allied aircraft. On January 3, 1994, the 22nd succeeded the 384th BW as McConnell's host unit.

The wing is a part of the 15th Air Force headquartered at Travis AFB, Calif., one of two Numbered Air Forces within Air Mobility Command, headquarted at Scott AFB, Ill. the wing's primary mission is to provide global reach by conducting air refueling and airlift where and when needed. The wing also helps carry out AMC's commitment to responsive global reach through readiness and the deterrence of armed aggression. This commitment also includes supporting the Department of Defense in many contingency situations, from strategic force projection and strategic force mobility, to humanitarian assistance. It aims to provide Air Force assets in support of world peace through readiness and the deterrence of armed aggression. This commitment also includes supporting the Department of Defense in many contingency situations, from strategic force projection and strategic force mobility, to humanitarian assistance.

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign March Air Reserve Base, CA. The 163d Air Refueling Wing (ANG) would distribute its nine KC-135R aircraft to the 22d Air Refueling Wing, McConnell Air Force Base, KS (one aircraft) and several other bases. According to DoD, McConnell AFB would be increased in operational capability with the additional aircraft because of their proximity to air refueling missions.

DoD also recommended to realign Robins Air Force Base by distributing the 19th Air Refueling Group's KC- 135R aircraft to the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell Air Force Base, KS (nine aircraft), and to backup aircraft inventory (three aircraft). This recommendation would realign active duty KC-135R aircraft from Robins (18) to McConnell (15), a base higher in military value for the tanker mission and with available capacity to receive the additional aircraft at no cost. This consolidation would increase McConnell's active duty tanker squadrons to optimum size.

In another recommendation, DoD recommended to to realign Grand Forks Air Force Base (AFB), ND. It would distribute the 319th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135R aircraft to the 22d Air Refueling Wing, McConnell AFB, KS (eight aircraft), which associated with the 931st Air Refueling Group (AFR). Aircraft would be moved to McConnel from Grand Forks because it had scored higher in military value. Additional aircraft at McConnell would capitalize on available excess capacity at no cost and optimize three squadrons for greater total wing capability.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:11:25 ZULU