On Tuesday, airmen at Grand Forks AFB, N.D., will come under the banner of the 319th Air Base Wing, which will replace the 319th Air Refueling Wing as the installation’s host unit. This change is one of the remaining steps in the base’s evolution from a KC-135 tanker operations hub to a center for remotely piloted aircraft and additional activities. Grand Forks hosted KC-135s for 50 years, but lost its tanker mission under BRAC 2005. “Our wing has not stopped moving forward since the tankers left in December,” said Col. Don Shaffer, 319th ARW commander. He added, “Our mission has changed, yes, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a mission.” In fact, new personnel from Air Combat Command will begin arriving in July to operate the RQ-4 Global Hawks that are slated to start arriving this summer. (Grand Forks report by MSgt. Joseph Kapinos)
Three B-1B Lancers from the 7th Bomb Wing flew over the Indo-Pacific alongside F-16s from the Japanese Air Self Defense Force recently, as part of a joint large force exercise. The mission began and ended in the continental U.S., as the bombers flew 31 hours and landed Jan. 11.