162nd Fighter Wing - Tucson International Airport

Tucson International Airport is home to the Air National Guard's premier F-16 fighter pilot training unit, the 162nd Fighter Wing. With more than 60 F-16 Fighting Falcons among three flying squadrons, it is the largest ANG fighter wing in the country. The wing shares use of the runway, security and fire control with the airport. Approximately 1,440 people work at the base. About 1,000 are full-time employees and the balance are traditional Guardsmen providing forces in support of wartime operations.

Currently, the wing is being considered by the Air Force as a future home for the F-35 Lightning II. Tucson's great flying weather, proximity to the Barry Goldwater Range and the wing's reputation as a world-class training unit are all important factors in the airport's candidacy for the next generation fighter.

Dual Missions

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 the Global War on Terror and Air Sovereignty 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 Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.


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.

Mission Elements

F-16 Fighter Training: The 162nd is the "face of the USAF to the world" providing the best-trained coalition war-fighting partners for the United States Air Force. The wing has trained pilots from 24 countries that fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon today while developing strategic partnerships and building strong international relationships based on performance, friendship and trust.

Homeland Defense: From Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the wing operates a 24/7, 365-days-per-year alert detachment to provide a rapid reaction force ensuring air sovereignty over the Southwest.

Operation Snowbird: Also located at Davis-Monthan, this 162nd detachment provides support for visiting flying units from around the world looking to train in the optimal weather conditions and ample ranges of Southern Arizona.


Guardsmen assigned to the 162nd Fighter Wing often serve their entire military careers in Tucson and enjoy close community ties in Southern Arizona. Their vital service to country and state is not possible without tremendous support from various civic organizations.

- 162nd Fighter Wing Minuteman Committee: A non-profit civic group that supports the members and the families of National Guard in Southern Arizona.

- Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR): Local volunteers working to gain and maintain active support from all public and private employers for members of the National Guard and Reserve.

- Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee: Volunteer business leaders working to maintain and continually improve the relationship between the military and civilian communities.

- Tucson Council for International Visitors: A non-profit group that designs and implements professional programs and provides cultural activities and home hospitality opportunities for foreign leaders, specialists and international scholars.

The Future

The wing will continue to modernize fighter training operations for the USAF Total Force and international air forces, defend the homeland, provide trained personnel for the Air and Space Expeditionary Force and fulfill its state mission. With continued community support and the F-35, the 162nd can carry out these missions for decades to come.

The ultramodern Air Guard Base at Tucson International Airport is very different from the adobe farmhouse and dirt-floor hangar of 53 years ago. What remains unchanged is the outstanding dedication of the men and women working to make the 162nd Fighter Wing one of the finest fighter training wings in the world.

Wing Facts

- The 162nd has more than 40 years experience in fighter training, and more than 20 years experience in international military training.

- The wing graduated more than 6,800 fighter pilots since 1970.

- Instructor pilots average more than 3,000 fighter hours.

- Aircraft maintainers average 18 years of experience in fighter aircraft.

- The 162nd Fighter Wing is one of Southern Arizona's largest employers bringing more than $280 million into the local economy.

162nd Fighter Wing Web site