There will still be hush houses, a fire station, an avionics hangar, a dining hall, and the business of the world's premier international F-16 training unit will continue: foreign pilots trained, aircraft maintained, parts supplied, munitions assembled and so forth.
Now the wing can add the MQ-1 Predator to its arsenal of military might and air power. Effective April 1, the 162nd Fighter Wing is now the 162nd Wing, reflecting the official inclusion of the 214th Reconnaissance Group, which operates the remotely piloted aircraft.
Brig. Gen. Edward Maxwell, Commander of the Arizona Air National Guard, spoke to an audience of more than 800 guardsmen, retirees, family and friends at the wing's official rededication ceremony, which was part of the Annual Awards and Hometown Heroes Salute event held April 5.
"The word 'fighter' may be falling out of this wing's name, but the reality is that it will continue to do what it has always done so well: support our country and our forces on the ground against those who want to do us harm," said Maxwell. "Our missions continue to excel, and the service the 162nd Wing provides defines the word 'team,' and I couldn't be prouder than that."
Based out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and previously aligned under state headquarters since in 2007, the 214th Reconnaissance Group provides key support of wartime efforts overseas to U.S. and coalition forces. The redesignation of the wing mirrors its never-ending commitment to providing excellence in fighter training to nation-partners, securing the homeland by means of air sovereignty, and now delivering remotely piloted aircrafts to the global war-fighting equation.
For Col. Phil Purcell, the 162nd Wing Commander, the benefits of having a parent wing for the Predator unit are twofold.
"Aligning the outstanding Airmen of the 214th Reconnaissance Group under the 162nd Wing enhances the mission readiness of both, and continues the wing and Arizona Air National Guard's legacy of global air power engagement - from training the finest F-16 pilots in the world to producing world-class surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence capabilities for the war-fighter," said Purcell.
U.S. Rep. Ron Barber, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, gave the closing remarks at the event.
"I brag about this unit a lot back in Washington whenever I can, and one of my jobs is to make sure that my colleagues know what you are doing here for the country and for our allies," said Barber, a self-described "Air Force brat" who lived on Davis-Monthan AFB in the 1950s.
For the 162nd Wing, name changes have been as certain as uniform changes. From the 152nd Fighter Inceptor Squadron - when it was first introduced to the Air Force component community in 1956 - to the F-100CD Super Sabre era under the 162nd Tactical Fighter Training Group, the unit has always embraced new designations.
"The big change here is that more Airmen will better understand what we do, which brings us more visibility to the general community as well," said Col. Bobbi J. Doorenbos, commander of the 214th Reconnaissance Group. "But the level of commitment to the mission remains exactly the same."