In the latest issue of Popular Mechanics magazine, there is a nicely-done article about the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Fighter Wing, based at Tucson International Airport.

The wing performs several different functions, not the least of which is its status as an F-16 Formal Training Unit (FTU) for the Air National Guard, as well as allied Air Forces equipped or soon to be equipped with the Viper. In fact, the wing has trained more than 7,000 fighter pilots since 1969 and has been training foreign air forces for more than two decades.

The 162nd Fighter Wing also has a homeland defense mission known as Aerospace Control Alert (ACA), which is performed under the direction of NORAD. Tucson Vipers represent NORAD’s response capability along portions of the United States’ southern border.

A Block 32 F-16C from the 162nd Fighter Wing, Arizona Air National Guard, takes on fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during Exercise Sentry Eagle 2015. (Photo by Scott Wolff)
A Block 32 F-16C from the 162nd Fighter Wing, Arizona Air National Guard, takes on fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker during Exercise Sentry Eagle 2015. (Photo by Scott Wolff)

The 162nd is also the parent command to the Total Force Training Center. Units from all over the world visit to conduct training with the experienced Instructor Pilots (IPs)–a significant number of whom have more than 3,000 fighter hours. The nearby airspace is great, and the Barry Goldwater Range hosts a variety of target areas to drop live munition and train in all of the skill sets required of today’s Viper Drivers. Throw in the fact that it’s Arizona, and the weather is almost always amazing, it’s the perfect set-up to do some good work–especially during the winter when the wing hosts Operation Snowbird.

Tucson is also the host unit for the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Test Center. AATC conducts operational test on behalf of each every U.S. Air Force MAJCOM. The center’s contingent of seven dedicated F-16s supports the task of Operational Flight Program testing with Block 25 and Block 32 Vipers.

So without further ado, buckle in and hold on for this snapshot of life with the 162nd Fighter Wing!

(Featured Photo by Scott E Wolff)

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