Thursday, August 06, 2015

Oklahoma ANG unit begins transition with arrival of first MC-12W aircraft

By Sr Airman Justin Creech, 137ARW Public Affairs

WILL ROGERS ANGB, OK.  The OK-ANG's 137ARW welcomed the arrival of the MC-12W aircraft here on July 10.  The arrival of the MC-12 marks the return of flying operations to WRANGB for the first time since 2007.

The 137ARW received the MC-12 based on its manpower, facilities, existing command structure, and strong relationships with local community leaders. The geographical location of the 137ARW provides a highly-conducive flying environment and appropriate training facilities.

"The 137ARW is very excited to return flying operations back to Will Rogers ANGB and join Air Force Special Operations Command," said Air Force Col. Devin R. Wooden, 137ARW commander. "Our last eight years at Tinker AFB and our partnership with the 507ARW is an honored part of our great history. We proudly flew off of this ramp for 58 years before we left for Tinker and to be a part of the team to bring flying operations back is very satisfying. I feel like everyone is back home."

The MC-12 is a medium- to low-altitude, twin-engined turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is to provide intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support directly to ground forces serving overseas.

The partnership between AFSOC and the Air National Guard and the ability of the ANG to retain members is another reason WRANGB was chosen to house the MC-12. Air National Guard members historically leave units at significantly lower rates than Active Duty units, which will allow Manned Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance expertise to be retained long-term and become more fully developed. The ANG unit will be able to retain critical expertise by recruiting and retaining those members who are planning to separate from active duty.

"I am personally very happy to be back at the base at which I began my military career," said Air Force Lt. Col. Justin Walker, 185ARS commander. "I am also very excited about the addition of new tactical Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance aircrew members to the squadron.

The basing of the MC-12 is a significant moment for the 137ARW as they transition to an Air Force Special Operations Wing. As a part of AFSOC, the wing will provide highly-trained Air Commandos to execute global special operations missions.

As part of the first Air National Guard/Air Force Reserve partnership, the 137ARW has been functioning as a geographically-separated base with KC-135 Stratotanker flight operations at Tinker Air Force Base and support operations at WRANGB. This partnership was the result of the last major Base Relocation and Closure commission that threatened the 137th with permanent closure.

"The squadron, and ultimately the wing, are poised for complete mission success due to the mix of current and new members," said Walker.