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147th Air Refueling Squadron
171st Air Refueling Wing - Boeing KC-135T-BN Stratotanker 58-0084.jpg
171st Air Refueling Wing - Boeing KC-135T-BN Stratotanker 58-0084 landing at Pittsburgh AGB
Active 2 October 1942–Present
Country  United States
Allegiance  Pennsylvania
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Squadron
Role Air Refueling
Part of Pennsylvania Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Pittsburgh IAP Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania
Nickname(s) "Steelers"
Tail Code Blue tail stripe, "Pennsylvania" in yellow letters
147th Air Refueling Squadron emblem 125px

The 147th Air Refueling Squadron (146 ARS) is a unit of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard 171st Air Refueling Wing located at Pittsburgh IAP Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania. The 147th is equipped with the KC-135T Stratotanker.


World War II

Activated on 1 October 1942 at RAF Duxford, England by special authority of the USAAF by Eighth Air Force. Assigned to VIII Fighter Command, equipped with a mixture of United States personnel reassigned from the 31st and 52d Fighter Groups, and Americans transferred from the Royal Air Force who had volunteered to join the RAF prior to the United States entry into the European War, 11 December 1941. Squadron was initially equipped with export/Lend-Lease version of P-39D Aircobra, designated Airacobra I by the RAF with additional aircraft that had been sold to France that been impounded by the British after the Fall of France. These aircraft were re-designated as P-400. Deployed to French Morocco and assigned to Twelfth Air Force where the unit engaged in combat during the North African campaign. Briefly equipped with P-38 Lightnings from June to Sept 1943 each Squadron was assigned two P-38s to intercept and destroy high flying Luftwaffe reconnaissance aircraft sent to photograph the allied invasion fleet gathering along the North African coast for the invasion of Sicily. Re-equipped with P-47D Thunderbolts, January 1944 and engaged in combat during Italian Campaign. Also covered Allied landings on Elba in June 1944 and supported the invasion of southern France in August. Returned to Italy and fought in Po Valley, 1944–1945 until the end of the European War in May 1945.

Pennsylvania Air National Guard

The wartime 346th Fighter Squadron was re-designated as the 147th Fighter Squadron, and was allotted to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard on 24 May 1946. It was organized at Greater Pittsburgh Airport and was extended federal recognition on 22 April 1949 by the National Guard Bureau. The 147th Fighter Squadron was bestowed the history, honors, and colors of the 346th Fighter Squadron. The squadron was equipped with F-47D Thunderbolts and was assigned to the 112th Fighter Group.

Air Defense

The 147th Fighter Squadron's mission was air defense over Pittsburgh and western Pennsylvania. Not activated during the Korean War, the squadron retired its F-47s in 1951 was re-equipped with long-distance F-51H Mustang interceptors, due to the lack of jets which were being used in Korea. After the Korean War ended the squadron began to receive new F-84F Thunderstreaks in July 1955. In January 1958, the 146th replaced their F-84Fs with all-weather F-86L Sabre Interceptors.

Aeromedical airlift

On 1 February 1961, the 147th was authorized to expand to a group level, and the 171st Air Transport Group was established by the National Guard Bureau. The 147th being transferred from the 112th Fighter-Interceptor Group to become the 171st ATG flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 171st Headquarters, 171st Material Squadron (Maintenance), 171st Combat Support Squadron, and the 171st USAF Dispensary. The 147th Aeromedical Transport Squadron was converted to twin engine C-119J Flying Boxcar aircraft and began training for its new mission. After two years with the C-119J, the 147th converted to the C-121G Super Constellation. With the Super Constellation the primary mission of the 147th was to perform military airlift, with a secondary mission of aeromedical evacuation.

In 1968, the unit was re-designated as the 171st Aeromedical Airlift Group, the first of its kind in the Air National Guard (ANG). Later that year, the 171st was called to active duty to augment the airlift capability of the 375th Aeromedical Airlift Wing, Scott AFB, Illinois. Equipped with C-131 Samaritan aircraft its mission was to move patients from rough combat airfield casualty staging bases and military installations in South Vietnam to destination treatment hospitals. The Group flew 35% of these missions, flying 510 sorties and airlifting 11,947 patients. The unit was finally released from active duty in December 1968 and returned to Pennsylvania commonwealth control.

Air refueling

Conforming to the new policy of the Department of Defense, the Air National Guard began to play an even greater role in fulfilling total U.S. force requirements. An extensive reorganization of the National Guard system was accomplished. As a result of these actions, the 171st Aeromedical Airlift Group was re-designated as the 171st Air Refueling Wing (ARW) in October 1972, transitioning from the C-121G to the KC-97L Stratotanker. On 1 July 1976, the Wing received notice of reassignment to the Strategic Air Command (SAC). A year later, the Wing transitioned to the KC-135A Stratotanker, a four-engine jet aircraft. This was a significant upgrade, increasing the Wings air refueling capacity and expanding its global mission capability. In 1982, the ANG increased its mission capability through an interim program by retrofitting commercial Boeing 707 engines to their tankers re-designating the aircraft to the KC-135E. Members of the 171 ARW volunteered for duty in Saudi Arabia in order to participate in air refueling missions for Operation Desert Shield. These operations were upgraded to a full federal activation in December 1990 through May 1991. During this period over 300 members of the unit were deployed throughout the world in numerous functions supporting both Desert Shield and combat operations during Operation Desert Storm. During this period the 171st ARW refueled nearly 3,000 allied aircraft while stationed near the Iraqi border in support of air combat missions against Iraqi forces. Maintaining a remarkable 100% mission effectiveness rate, the 171st flew 556 combat missions and offloaded 4.6 million gallons of fuel during the 1991 Gulf War.

Post Cold War era

Strategic Air Command was inactivated in June 1992 and the 112th ARG became a part of the Air Combat Command (ACC). On 1 October 1993, with both the 112th Air Refueling Group and the 171st Air Refueling Wing at Pittsburgh, the two tanker units were consolidated with the 146th Air Refueling Squadron being reassigned to the 171st Operations Group and once again reuniting with the 147th under the same group. The 112th Air Refueling Group was inactivated. With the consolidation, The 171st ARW consisted of 16 aircraft assigned to two squadrons, making it one of only three Super Tanker Wings within the Air National Guard.

In May 1999, the 171st activated over 500 members and fourteen aircraft to Budapest, Hungary and Frankfurt, Germany, in support of Operation Allied Force deterring ethnic aggression in Yugoslavia. The 147th became part of the 171st Expeditionary Operations Group that flew 411 sorties and refueled 2,157 receivers. All members returned home by the beginning of July 1999. In November 2000, the 171st deployed 228 personnel to Istres AB, France in support of Operation Joint Forge, a NATO-led stabilization mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina. During this deployment the crews flew 51 sorties in seven of our KC-135s, and offloaded 1.4 million pounds of fuel.

Global War on Terrorism

the 171st found itself among the first units called to duty almost immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C. and in its own backyard in southwestern Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 with the hijacking and crash of United Airlines Flight 93. At the time, almost all of the Wing's aircraft were in a stand-down mode, while nearly all of its assigned aircraft were being converted to with the new Pacer-Crag cockpit and navigation upgrade. Within minutes of the first aircraft crashes, the 171st Air Refueling Wing was airborne with its only flyable KC-135E. Its mission was to provide aerial refueling to the fuel-thirsty jet fighter aircraft that were providing Combat Air Patrols (CAPs) over the skies of the eastern United States as part of Operation Noble Eagle (ONE). On the ground back in Pittsburgh, the maintainers and aircrews made more aircraft airworthy and then keeping them flying. Almost seamlessly, the 171st went into a wartime footing. Within 24 hours after the first attacks, the 171st was flying round-the-clock CAPs support sorties with eight Fully Mission Capable KC-135s. Before the continuous CAP missions were ended in early 2002, more than 13,000 combat missions were flown over U.S. soil.

During the first decade of the 2000s, the 171st was engaged in combat operations in supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Iraqi Freedom, deployed to Guam, participated in the Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort, supported numerous Raven assignments, supported our AEF cycles and other missions. In an effort to support the international response to the unrest in Libya and enforcement of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 of a no-fly zone over Libya, the 313th Air Expeditionary Wing, with the 171st as the lead unit, was stood up in March 2011 by a blend of active duty, guard and reserve airmen. A total of 1500 sorties, 11000 flying hours, and 70 million pounds of fuel transferred aircraft from more than ten countries was accomplished by this citizen-airmen volunteer milita force. Initially, the operation for the no-fly zone was called Operation Odyssey Dawn. As it transitioned to a full-fledged, NATO-led effort, it became Operation Unified Protector. OUP officially ended Oct. 31, 2011.


World War II 346th Fighter Squadron emblem

  • Activated in England on 1 October 1942 by special authority granted to Eighth Air Force prior to constitution as 346th Fighter Squadron on 2 October 1942
Inactivated on 7 November 1945
  • Re-designated 147th Fighter Squadron and allotted to Pennsylvania ANG on 24 May 1946
Extended federal recognition on 22 April 1949
Re-designated: 147th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 1 November 1952
Re-designated: 147th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 1 July 1955
Re-designated: 147th Aeromedical Transport Squadron, 1 February 1961
Federalized and placed on active duty, 13 May 1968
Released from active duty and returned to Pennsylvania commonwealth control, 12 December 1968
Re-designated: 147th Air Refueling Squadron, 1 November 1972
Federalized and placed on active duty, 15 December 1990
Released from active duty and returned to Pennsylvania commonwealth control, 31 May 1991


Attached to: 1709th Air Refueling Wing (Provisional), 15 December 1990-31 May 1991
  • 171st Operations Group, 1 October 1993 – Present


  • RAF Bushey Hall (AAF-341), England, 1 October 1942
  • RAF Duxford (AAF-357), England, October 1942
  • Oujda Airfield, French Morocco, 6 January 1943
  • Oran Es Sénia Airport, Oran, Algeria, 14 February 1943
  • Maison Blanche Airport, Algiers, Algeria, May 1943
  • Rerhaia Airfield, Algeria, c. 17 July 1943
  • Sardinia, 5 November 1943
  • Corsica, 6 February 1944
  • Tarquinia Airfield, Italy, 8 September 1944

Operated from: Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, 13 May-12 December 1968
Operated from: King Abdul Aziz Air Base, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 15 December 1990-31 May 1991
Designated: Pittsburgh IAP Air Reserve Station, 1991-President



 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  • Mauer, Mauer (1969), Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II, Air Force Historical Studies Office, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. ISBN 0-89201-097-5

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).