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State of the unit

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Joseph R. Stahl
  • 178 FW/PA
Since the 2005 announcement by the Base Realignment and Closure Committee to terminate the 178th F-16 Fighting Falcon training mission and relocate their F-16 Fighting Falcons, the unit has been working to find a new mission.

The wing secured a Foreign Military Sales training mission with the Netherlands and strong interest from Singapore. However, this past January the 178th learned the Singapore air force was no longer coming to Springfield to train, which financially affected the Dutch training mission here.

At a meeting town hall meeting April 19th Col. Mike Roberts, 178th Fighter Wing commander, announced the Dutch were officially are moving their F-16 Fighting Falcon training from Springfield to Tucson, Ariz. by the end of 2010.

The frustration level continues to rise as no concrete mission has yet been determined for the 178th, and rumors continue to spread.

Col. Roberts is doing his best to provide the most current and accurate information as it becomes available. Information has been disseminated to the wing through weekly town hall meetings where the State Human Resources Office provides answers to the many questions unit members have.

Col. Roberts is confident that the 178th Fighter Wing will get a new mission.

"I don't have any doubt that there is going to be a new mission here, my only question is which mission it will be," said Col. Roberts.

Col. Roberts is confident of this new mission due to three factors.

1. The Air Force requirement is there.

"The good news is, there are valid [Air Force mission] requirements that need to be filled. The Air Force is still short to man Remotely Piloted Aircraft capabilities both for analysis and the deployment side," said Col. Roberts.

2. The Air National Guard will carry funding until Congressional funding can be put into the future Springfield mission.

3. Sens. Brown and Voinovich, Rep. Austria and Gov. Strickland have been heavily involved in bringing a new mission to the wing.

"The message is being sent forward that we are time sensitive here," said Col. Roberts, "we need to start making things happen. Much sooner rather than later."

"The missions that we are likely looking at now are Distributed Ground Station and RPA. These are long-term missions that are going to be around for a while," said Col. Roberts.

For now, it does not look like RPA's will be flown out of Springfield. There are currently airspace issues with the Buckeye Military Operating Area airspace. The airspace needs to be re-designated as restricted. These airspace issues would not prevent the RPA mission from coming to the 178th, just without the launch and recovery element.

The American F-16's will permanently depart the 178th in June, and the rest in September, with the last flight sometime in late July or early August. Then, a significant amount of time will be spent preparing the planes and associated equipment for departure to their new home.

The Guard Bureau is interested in bringing a bridge mission to the 178 FW while the wing prepares to stand up a new mission.

This mission could include phase inspections on other unit's F-16's, Time Compliance Technical Orders modifications, bulk head repairs on other F-16 engines and Logistics Compliance Assessment Program that the 178th would participate in. These bridge missions could involve up to 80 maintainers.

This bridge mission will involve maintenance individuals who are waiting on their training slot for a new career field.

Col. Roberts is confident that the 178th will be able to take care of its full-time employees.

"As long as the mission is there, and the funding is there, we'll take care of our folks. Folks will have a paycheck," said Col. Roberts.

Col. Roberts is committed to keeping everybody informed.

"When solid information comes out, it will be published to make sure folks know what's going on," said Col. Roberts.

Col. Roberts remains confident of our new mission.

"Everything I've seen, the requirement for the Combat Air Patrol, the willingness of the Guard to fund us for a year out of cycle, the political attention; I'm very confident that we'll end up with a mission," concluded Col. Roberts.