Active-Duty Fighter, Tanker Squadrons Join Guard Wings
By Amanda Miller
Two Active-duty squadrons joined wings of the Air National Guard in ceremonies July 8. The 306th Fighter Squadron became an associate of New Jersey’s 177th Fighter Wing, and the 64th Air Refueling Squadron activated under the auspices of New Hampshire’s 157th Air Refueling Wing.
The approximately 50 Active-duty Airmen of the 306th FS represent the 10th and final fighter squadron to associate with a Guard or Reserve wing under Air Combat Command’s restructuring to achieve the objective of “Total Force Integration,” according to a news release from the New Jersey Air National Guard.
A spokesperson for the wing confirmed that the Active-duty Airmen and their families will move to the area of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., where the wing has its base at Atlantic City International Airport.
Col. Derek B. Routt, commander of New Jersey’s 177th Fighter Wing, called the concept of Total Force Integration “a critical piece of our nation’s combat readiness” in the release. The new squadron’s maintainers, pilots, and support personnel will become “fully integrated” into the wing and “support the increased maintenance requirements of the 177th’s F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft fleet, bolstering the fleet’s flying combat readiness.
Assigning Active-duty personnel to the wing allows Air Combat Command to gain “more experienced fighter pilots,” while the Guard or Reserve unit on the receiving end “benefits from the infusion of people and flying hours provided by the regular Air Force,” said Lt. Col. Anthony M. Mulia, deputy commander of ACC’s 495th Fighter Group, which is supplying the Active-duty personnel to the Guard wing.
In such a relationship, called an Active association, the Active-duty Air Force provides personnel while the host Guard or Reserve wing supplies the equipment, according to the release.
At Pease Air National Guard Base in Newington, N.H., the 64th Air Refueling Squadron reactivated July 8 to fly KC-46 refueling missions under the state’s 157th Air Refueling Wing with its 12 Pegasus tankers. The 64th ARS was originally at Pease “in support of the since-divested KC-135,” according to a news release.
“We couldn’t be more excited to have you all back,” said Maj. Gen. David J. Mikolaities, adjutant general of the New Hampshire National Guard, in the release, while also recognizing the support of the state’s congressional delegation. The new squadron will amount to about 160 Airmen by December 2023.
The wing displayed one of its KC-46s nicknamed “Spirt of Portsmouth” for the ceremony, its tail painted red, white, and blue and overlaid with a 16-foot-tall National Guard Minuteman logo.
‘Herk Nation’ Adds ANG C-130J Training Unit
By Greg Hadley
As the Air National Guard moves forward with its plans to replace aging C-130Hs with new C-130Js, it has decided where it wants to base its formal training unit for the new aircraft—Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark.
The decision, announced by the Department of the Air Force on June 24, will result in four C-130Js being located at Little Rock to help Air Guard members “gain the experience and knowledge needed to operate the newer aircraft,” according to a DAF release.
The Air Force has conducted the site survey and environmental analysis necessary to make the final decision for Little Rock. Arkansas lawmakers indicated in May 2021 that military leadership had selected Little Rock as its preferred location, with final approval coming from Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.
Little Rock AFB’s selection is in many ways unsurprising. The base already hosts the 314th Airlift Wing, the nation’s tactical airlift “Center of Excellence” and the largest C-130 Formal Training Unit in the Air Force. The 314th Airlift Wing helps train C-130 crew members across the Department of Defense, the Coast Guard, and 47 partner nations.
The 189th Airlift Wing of the Arkansas Air National Guard, meanwhile, already has the C-130H Formal Training Unit.
All told, Little Rock has hosted C-130 Hercules training missions in some form or fashion for more than 50 years, resulting in its nickname of “Herk Nation.” Between the 314th Airlift Wing, the 189th Airlift Wing, and the 19th Airlift Wing, the base has dozens of C-130Hs and C-130Js.
While the Active-duty Air Force has almost completely transitioned away from the C-130H to the new C-130J Super Hercules, the Air National Guard is still very much in the midst of its changeover, with its number of H models still far exceeding the number of Js. The Guard previously announced four other locations that are getting the C-130J—Louisville Air National Guard Base, Ky.; McLaughlin Air National Guard Base, W.V.; Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas; and Savannah Air National Guard Base, Ga.
Those first three locations have all taken delivery of their first C-130Js.