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Air National Guard: Fighter Pilot Training

F-16 Falcons flying in formation.


Tucson International Airport is home to the Air National Guard's (ANG) premier F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter pilot training unit, the 162nd Fighter Wing. It is the largest ANG fighter wing in the country and resides on 94 acres next to the Tucson International Airport. The wing shares use of the runway, security, and fire control with the airport. Approximately 1,450 people work at the base. About 900 are full-time employees and the balance are drill status Guardsmen providing forces in support of wartime operations.

Since its activation in 1956, the 162nd Fighter Wing has fulfilled a federal and state mission. The dual mission, a provision of the U. S. Constitution, results in each Guardsman holding membership in the National Guard of Arizona and in the National Guard of the United States. Specifically, the wing serves the United States and allied nations by providing the finest fighter training programs in the world while partnering with the U.S. Air Force in overseas contingencies and Aerospace Control Alert.

The wing's federal mission is to maintain well-trained, well-equipped units available for prompt mobilization during war and provide assistance during national emergencies such as natural disasters or civil disturbances. Currently, the 162nd deploys its members as part of the Air and Space Expeditionary Force to provide combat forces in support of Operations in Southwest Asia.

When 162nd Fighter Wing Guardsmen are not mobilized or under federal control, they report to the governor of Arizona and are led by the adjutant general of the state. Under state law, the wing provides protection of life, property and preserves peace, order and public safety. These missions are accomplished through emergency relief support during natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and forest fires; search and rescue operations; support to civil defense authorities; maintenance of vital public services and counter drug operations.