The 168th ARW is the only Arctic region refueling unit in the United States and maintains a substantial number of personnel on active duty and civilian technician status in order to meet its daily operational requirements. The unit transfers more fuel than any other Air National Guard tanker wing, because nearly all receivers are active duty aircraft, many of which are on operational missions.
The mission of the 168 ARW is to train and equip KC-135R combat crews to provide air refueling in support of PACAF Operations Plans (OPLANS) and worldwide refueling taskings. It's peacetime mission provides air refueling training and exercise support for all 11th Air Force AWACS and fighter aircraft, as well as alert tankers and crews to support Alaska NORAD Region (ANR) plans and Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed refueling requirements.
In 2000, the wing became mobility-tasked, which has been a true opportunity for growth and learning. Besides its federally directed missions, as a unit of the Alaska National Guard, the 168 ARW is an asset of the Governor of Alaska and as such, the Governor can direct the unit to respond to emergencies declared or missions required within the State.
The 168th ARW completed its R-model conversion in 1995, and in 2000 they completed a major flight deck upgrade called "Pacer CRAG" – with the CRAG standing for Compass, Radar, and GPS (Global Positioning System). The Wing's Primary Assigned Aircraft are eight KC-135 R-models assigned to the 168th Air Refueling Squadron. The wing aircraft are identified with a blue tail stripe, and the name "Alaska".
Because of Alaska's strategic location with regard to national defense, the mission and importance of the 168 ARW and the Alaska Air National Guard should continue to increase in the coming years. The 168 ARW has a remarkably broad range of responsibilities.
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EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, AK, US
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