Mission:The 143d Airlift Wing
provides worldwide combat airlift and combat support forces to the nation, and to provide resources to protect life, property and public safety for Rhode Island and the local community. 143d Airlift Wing leadership is recognized as amongst the most aggressive, demanding and the best in the C-130 community. To remain viable for the present and relevant in the future the Wing has aggressively pursued three avenues: base infrastructure and modernization, C-130J-30 advancement and becoming the C-130 “airbridge” for the Air Force.
An uncompromising program of base infrastructure modernization and construction began in 2001 with the acquisition of adjacent land bringing Quonset to 100 acres. A six-year, $65 million base modernization and construction program included the installation of new fiber-optic, communication and electrical power infrastructure to support future base wide construction; the completion of a new Life Support Building; the complete reconstruction of the Motor Pool roof; construction of a new Aircraft Maintenance and Hangar facility to accommodate the ongoing conversion to the C-130J-30; the total renovation and addition to the Operations Building.
In December 2001, the 143d received its first C-130J-30 and became the first in the Air Force to receive the “stretch” version of the “J” model. As the most modern tactical airlifter in the world, the C130J-30’s increased airlift capability is evidenced by the fact that 8 “J” models carry as much as 12 “E” models and can do so farther, faster and more economically. As of early 2004 the Wing had three C-130J-30s and will eventually have eight total.
While the 143d also continues to support worldwide airlift requirements with its aging but venerable C-130E models, it has also positioned itself as a leader in the tactical airlift community by pursuing the operational readiness of the “J” model for the U.S. Air Force. The Wing hosted the C-130J Single Ship Procedural Development and Evaluation (PD&E). The purpose of PD&E is to develop and evaluate policy and procedures necessary to support training and development, ongoing test and evaluation and to refine operational employment concepts. This is the cornerstone for future courseware for C-130J pilot training. The PD&E effort was a major accomplishment. The most recent recognition of the “J” model program for the 143d Airlift Wing occurred during an Aircrew Standardization/Evaluation Visit (ASEV) in September 2003. The Wing received many compliments on the unit’s performance and for executing an extremely effective flying program with the Wing Operations personnel being rated “Outstanding” with respect to flying performance. The Wing’s aggressive efforts to get the C-130J-30 mission ready were also noted and the AMC Team Chief ended his comments by stating that the 143d Wing is a superb organization, ready to perform its mission.
As the easternmost C-130 base within the Air Force, the 143d has positioned itself to be the C-130 “bridge” between Europe and the continental United States. Quonset ANGB is ideally located to fully support all C-130s both departing the United States for overseas missions and those aircraft returning from the Iraqi and Southwest Asia Theaters. There are other Northeast facilities as close to Europe, but Quonset is the only en route C-130 maintenance facility. The Quonset Point, RI location also has strategic value as a regional “hub” location for consequence management and recovery operations following natural or man-made disasters. Senior leadership at Air Mobility Command (AMC) stated that AMC would promote and support the continued development of “hub” operations for tactical airlift at Quonset ANGB, as well as supporting the installation of an assault landing strip for tactical training. In 2003 alone the 143d supported well over 100 transient aircraft either deploying or returning from overseas and welcomed over 1000 soldiers and airmen returning to the United States from Operation Iraqi Freedom. Col. Rich Johnston, the 317th Air Group Commander from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas had this to say; “Quonset State is an ideal east coast stopover point. We’ve always received great support from the 143d. This time was especially remarkable considering the size of our redeployment and the fact that the 143d was operating at minimum manning due to their own recent deployment. The hospitality and enthusiasm were first-rate across the board. This Total Force effort was the catalyst for a triumphant homecoming for the Dyess warriors, marking the first time the entire group has been home in more than 15 months. We deeply appreciate the friendship of our partners in the 143d—One Team, One Fight!”
To remain viable and thrive in the present environment of base closures and drawdowns, and to ensure that we are a ready, reliable, and relevant force, the 143d Airlift Wing will continue to aggressively pursue modernization of both base infrastructure and aircraft, C-130J-30 operational readiness and being the C-130 “airbridge” for the Air Force. The 143d has maintained a very ambitious operational tempo, and will continue to pursue worldwide airlift and combat support excellence through innovative modernization and service to our state and nation.
The 143d Airlift Wing traces its history back to 1915 when concerned Rhode Island residents banded together in the true spirit of the citizen-soldier to purchase two Curtis Model "F" Flying Boats, one of which was assigned to the State National Guard. The border conflict in Mexico and America's entry into the First World War prevented much use, and in 1919 the National Guard aircraft, now obsolete, was sold as surplus.
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