Guard to staff alert base
BY MANNY GAMALLO World Staff Writer
Saturday, December 29, 2007
The Oklahoma Air National
Guard will take on a new mission
Feb. 1 when it begins providing
homeland security air defense for
a sizable chunk of the Southwest.
Col. William Hadaway, commander of the Tulsa-based 138th
Fighter Wing, said Friday that 30
of his F-16 pilots, along with 30
maintenance personnel, are undergoing training at Ellington
Field in Houston in preparation
for the mission.
He said the Tulsa-based crews
will be operating out of Ellington
Field as part of the national Air
Sovereignty Alert mission, providing air defense for a large swath
between Tucson, Ariz., and New
The Air Sovereignty Alert mission is designed to thwart any terrorist threat to the skies over the
nation, in particular hijacked
planes as seen in the Sept. 11,
2001, terrorist attacks.
More than a dozen of these
types of "alert" bases are spread
out across the country.
Although the Tulsa-based
crews will be operating out of Texas, they still will be part of the
Oklahoma Air National Guard,
Two pilots at a time will work
out of Texas in weekly rotational
shifts, he said. They will head to
Ellington for a four-day work
week, then return to Oklahoma,
allowing two others to rotate into
The maintenance personnel,
however, will remain permanently
in Texas, Hadaway said.
The commander said that while
at Ellington Field, the Oklahoma
pilots will be living in a small
building alongside the runway so
they can scramble into the sky
within five minutes of receiving an
Hadaway said the Oklahoma
crews will provide protection for
much of Texas, northward into
Oklahoma, and points east and
Air Force alert bases also
will be at Tucson and New Orleans, "and if you look at the
area between those two, you'll
see the area we'll be covering," Hadaway said.
He said other alert bases
will be located in Massachusetts, Virginia, South Carolina,
Florida, Oregon, Minnesota,
and other states.
Meanwhile, the Air Force
has run into an operational
problem at many of the alert
The problem arose after the
Air Force grounded about 450
of its F-15 fighter jets for suspected structural defects.
Hundreds of those planes
are used at many of the alert
bases, so the Air Force is calling on neighboring states and
Air National Guards to pitch in
with their F-16 fighters to
keep the skies protected.
Oklahoma, however, will
not be aiding that effort, Hadaway said.
"Normally, we would step
up to it. But we're starting a
whole new mission, training
for a new unit," he said.
"That's why we didn't volunteer" to help the Air Force,
Manny Gamallo 581-8386
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Source: U.S. Air Force