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186th Air Refueling Wing
186th ARW - Photo.jpg
186th Air Refueling Wing KC-135

186th Air Refueling Wing - C-27.jpg

186th Air Refueling Wing - C-27
Active 15 Oct 1962-Present
Country  United States
Allegiance  Mississippi
Branch US-AirNationalGuard-2007Emblem.svg  Air National Guard
Type Wing
Role Air Refueling
Part of Mississippi Air National Guard
Garrison/HQ Key Field Air National Guard Base, Meridian, Mississippi.
Motto(s) "
Tail Code Blue tail stripe, "Mississippi" in yellow letters
Colonel Franklin Chalk
186th Air Refueling Wing emblem 186th Air Refueling Wing.png

The 186th Air Refueling Wing (168 ARW) is a unit of the Mississippi Air National Guard located at Key Field Air National Guard Base, Mississippi.

The 153d Air Refueling Squadron, assigned to the Wings 186th Operation Group, is a descendant organization of the 158th Observation Squadron, established on 18 August 1939. It is one of the 29 original National Guard Observation Squadrons of the United States Army National Guard formed before World War II.


The 186th ARW provides worldwide air refueling support to major commands of the United States Air Force, as well as other U.S. military forces and the military forces of allied nations flying the KC-135 Stratotanker. Currently, the 186th is in conversion to the C-27J tactical airlift aircraft. Due to immediate demands from theatre commanders, unit members are diligently working to fulfill training requirements while other members are already deployed. By 2014 the wing is expected to support and operational squadron and serve as the formal training unit for all C-27 crew training. With over 1,200 officers and Airmen, the 186th is made up of mostly traditional guardsmen who live and work throughout Mississippi and surrounding states, but about one third of our members are full-time Air technicians or Active Guard/Reserve. Tenant units on Key Field include the 238th Air Support Operations Squadron, the 248th Air Traffic Control Support, and the 286th Air Operations Group as well as two Army National Guard units located next to our base.

The 186th Air Refueling Wing also supports a C-26 aircraft, modified to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission in the U.S. and overseas. Stateside, the C-26 supports local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in counterdrug efforts while overseas missions support imagery collection taskings for combatant commanders.

The C-26 program has worked directly with law enforcement agencies since 1996 providing National Guard unique support to battle illegal narcotics and illicit drugs. Missions are conducted daily, and include locations throughout the continental U.S. Overseas deployments to date have supported Department of Defense and USSOUTHCOM objectives in South America . The C-26 is manned full-time and the program is managed through the Mississippi National Guard Counterdrug Coordinator's office in conjunction with other counterdrug programs that assist our communities and nation through the Governor's Counterdrug State Plan.

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Key Field Air Guard Station, MS. It would distribute the 186th Air Refueling Wing’s KC-135R aircraft to the 128th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), General Mitchell Air Guard Station, WI (three aircraft); the 134th Air Refueling Wing (ANG), McGhee-Tyson Airport Air Guard Station, TN (three aircraft); and 101st Air Refueling Wing (ANG), Bangor International Airport Air Guard Station, ME (two aircraft). One aircraft would revert to backup aircraft inventory. The 186th Air Refueling Wing’s fire fighter positions would move to the 172d Air Wing at Jackson International Airport, MS, and the expeditionary combat support (ECS) would remain in place.


  • 186th Operations Group
153d Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135 Stratotanker)
  • 186th Maintenance Group
  • 186th Mission Support Group
  • 186th Medical Group
  • 238th Air Support Operations Squadron
The 238th Air Support Operations Squadron is a tenant unit of the 186th Air Refueling Wing.


On 15 October 1962, the Mississippi Air National Guard 153d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was authorized to expand to a group level, and the 186th Tactical Reconnaissance Group was established by the National Guard Bureau. The 153d TRS becoming the group's flying squadron. Other squadrons assigned into the group were the 186th Headquarters, 186th Material Squadron (Maintenance), 186th Combat Support Squadron, and the 186th USAF Dispensary. Initially equipped with RF-84F Thunderflash tactical reconnaissance aircraft, the unit trained in normal peacetime operations.

McDonnell RF-101C-40-MC Voodoo 56-166 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

In 1970 Tactical Air Command retired the RF-84s and they were replaced by the RF-101C Voodoo. In 1979 the Voodoos were again replaced by RF-4C Phantom IIs. RF-101C 56-0166, on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, served with the 186th TRG. The aircraft was flown directly from Key Field to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio on its final flight 27 October 1978.

In 1990 during the Gulf Crisis, several aircraft and support personnel were activated and deployed to Doha International Airport, Qatar, being part of the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing (Provisional) during Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm.

In 1992 the squadron's 186th Tactical Reconnaissance Group was realigned to an air refueling unit as the RF-4Cs were retired. The squadron was equipped with KC-135 Stratotankers and placed initially under Air Combat Command, later under Air Mobility Command. The 153d Air Refueling Squadron has seen worldwide duty with the KC-135s, supporting Operation Display Determination, Operation Provide Relief, Operation Restore Hope, Operation Support Justice, Operation Deny Flight, Operation Northern Watch, Operation Noble Eagle, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In September 2008 the Air Force and Air National Guard officials agreed to establish a temporary mission qualification training detachment called "Project Liberty" for the MC-12 aircraft at Key Field in Meridian, Mississippi. This mission, conducted by the Mississippi Air National Guard, will help bolster the Department of Defense's intelligence gathering capability in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

On 29 April 2009, the first MC-12W aircraft meant for training arrived at Key Field. This mission, designated Project Liberty, will train approximately 1,000 students during the next two years at the 186th Air Refueling Wing, located at Key Field. The 186th ARW will conduct total force mission qualification training for this program, providing the manpower and facilities for the training unit.

The MC-12 has four aircrew members — two pilots, a sensor operator and a signals intelligence specialist, all trained at the Mississippi Air National Guard’s Key Field in Meridian. The sensor operator controls the full-motion video camera, and the SigInt specialist operates “Pennant Race,” an advanced version of the SigInt package found on unmanned MQ-9 Reapers.


  • Designated 186th Tactical Reconnaissance Group, and allotted to Mississippi ANG, 1962
Extended federal recognition and activated, 15 October 1962
Re-designated: 186th Air Refueling Group, 1 Apr 1992
Status changed from Group to Wing, 1 Jun 1992
Re-designated: 186th Air Refueling Wing, 1 Jun 1992


Gained by: Tactical Air Command, 15 Oct 1962
Gained by: Air Combat Command, 30 June 1992
Gained by: Air Mobility Command, 1 Oct 1993-Present


Assigned to 186 OG effective 1 June 1992


  • Meridian Regional Airport, 15 October 1962
Designated: Key Field Air National Guard Base, Delaware, 1991-Present



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

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