Home to Start a New Mission

About 200 members of the New York Air National Guard’s 174th Fighter Wing returned home to Syracuse, N.Y., on Aug. 5, along with 14 of their F-16 fighters, after several months of supporting combat operations in Iraq out of Joint Base Balad. The deployment was the wing’s eighth and final rotation to Southwest Asia as an F-16 unit; since, as part of BRAC 2005, it is now ending its 51-year fighter mission to transition to operating MQ-9 unmanned aerial vehicles. It will be the first ANG unit to operate the armed MQ-9, which the Air Force has used in combat in Afghanistan since September 2007 and since last month in Iraq. The transition to the MQ-9 starts this fall, but unit members are not expected to actually begin training on the unmanned systems until 2010 and to receive their own MQ-9s in 2011. (NGB report)