FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The personnel at the 122nd Fighter Wing, home of the Blacksnakes of the Indiana National Guard here, are always ready for any mission set.
That’s what the Fighter Wing’s Lt. Col. Rebecca Metzger said Wednesday about the 1,000 men and women who serve at their base, adjacent to the Fort Wayne International Airport.
“We are always ready and flexible for any mission set. We have a long history with fighter aircraft from the P47s in the 40s to the F4 in the 80s to the F-16s in the 90s and the A-10 presently,” Metzger said.
That’s about to change.
The base is set to swap out its 21 A-10 Warthogs and return to flying F-16s the Warthogs replaced about a dozen years ago. According to military.com, a publication tracking the move, the F-16 is more modern and a lighter aircraft.
Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Todd Young jumped into the discussion, advocating for the return of F-16s to the base and posted the military.com article on his Facebook page. Young has stated before that the Fort Wayne personnel are equipped to handle maintenance on the F-16 fighter jet because of the existing infrastructure at the base. Metzger said the base employs about 300 people full-time.
“For years, I have advocated for the 122nd Fighter Wing to be authorized to move forward with its desire to transition from the A-10 to the F-16,” Young wrote Thursday. “I will be aggressively advocating for this to be preserved in the upcoming NDAA and Appropriations process.” NDAA stands for the National Defense Authorization Act.
The A-10s are part of an aging fleet and the cost of maintenance is an issue, the article said. The Warthogs with 30mm Gatling-style guns withstand heavy air fire and were deployed to Afghanistan, eastern Europe and southeast Asia. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall is quoted as saying the Air Force will take out 21 A-10s at Fort Wayne and replace them with F-16s.
In a recent interview, Jim Banks told WANE the swap would take place and the news was good for Fort Wayne.
“I’m fully confident that a transition will happen in the near future. We’ve been working on it ever since I’ve been in Congress,” said Banks, adding that the Air Force plan was to “bring back an F-16 platform and transitions the A-10s.”
A couple of weeks ago, Banks said he met with the Secretary of the Air Force and spoke of the transition.
“He was fully confident that’s going to occur as well. The good news is that the 122nd FIghter Wing is going to continue to be important for a long time to come,” Banks said.