October 28, 2006 (by Jon Somerville) - The 192nd Fighter Wing of the Virginia ANG is moving from Richmond IAP to Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, where it will integrate with the 1st FW and become the first Air National Guard F-22 Raptor unit.
Lt. Col. Bryan Turner and Maj. Thomas McAtee fly in formation with Lt. Col. Wade Tolliver during a training mission on Thursday, March 30, 2006. Pictured is F-22A #03-4050 off the coast of Virginia. [U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Ben Bloker]
Integration of the ANG
192nd FW with the active 1st FW is unique as it brings the Air National Guard to the forefront of the latest fighter design. The 192nd Fighter Wing was previously known for being one of the first Air Force units with the TARS
(Theater Airborne Reconnaissance) system used for strike and tactical intelligence in Iraq
. Now it is the first Guard unit to participate in the operational rollout of a front-line fighter.
One of the 2005 BRAC
recommendations was to realign 192nd FW, moving the unit to Langley AFB
, Virginia where it would be integrated with the 1st Fighter Wing. The 192nd FW will retain its unit identity - at Wing level the 1st FW and 192nd FW will operate distinctly separate from each other. Although the 192nd will not control any aircraft, it will retain a separate administrative control of its own personnel, which allows the unit the discretion of hiring, firing, promotion, discipline, pay and leave.
The 192nd's 149th Fighter Squadron will also be integrated into the operations at Langley AFB. Although still controlled by the 192nd FW the 149th Fighter Squadron will own no aircraft but it will maintain its own command structure.
192nd FW personnel will only work with Langley's F-22 units and will not be involved with any F-15 programs. First to begin the integration was the 27th Fighter Squadron followed shortly by the 94th Fighter Squadron. Langley AFB's other fighter squadron, the 71st Fighter Squadron will not be involved with this merger at this time as they still fly the F-15C Eagle.
The Virginia ANG integration began in February of 2006 with the creation of the 192nd FW det. 3 at Langley AFB. At some point the det. 3 will dissolve as the 192nd FW officially declares Langley AFB home. By October 2007 it is expected that the Virginia ANG will distribute its F-16s to the 132d Fighter Wing at Des Moines, Iowa (six aircraft); 482nd Fighter Wing at Homestead, Florida (three aircraft) and backup inventory (six aircraft). Air National Guard facilities at Richmond IAP would transfer to the Department of the Army. Although the transition is well under way it is expected to take till September 2009 before the project is complete.
“Our integration combines experienced and dedicated Air National Guard manpower with our nation’s premier active duty fighter wing to provide unparalleled combat capability to the combatant commander,” said Lt. Col. Jim Cox, 192nd FW - Detachment 3 operations liaison. Cox also added that in active duty there are generally a lot of young pilots and not enough instructors, but the integration will add many Guard pilots who are all very experienced instructors.