About the 103rd Airlift Wing

The 103rd Airlift Wing's Mission is to provide tactical airpower and mission support for Connecticut and the Nation through:
  • Highly qualified and proficient C-130 aircrew
  • Expertly-maintained, mission-capable aircraft
  • Steadfast mission support
  • Precise Air Battle Management

The Connecticut's Air National Guard operates from the Bradley Air National Guard Base adjacent to Bradley International Airport and at an Air Station in Orange.

The two locations host units officially named the 103rd Airlift Wing and the 103rd Air Control Squadron, which are more commonly known as the "Flying Yankees" and "Yankee Watch."

The 103rd Air Control Squadron conducts a command and control mission from a hillside facility adjacent to Long Island Sound. Their responsibilities include real-time detection, identification and surveillance of air traffic for combat operations and homeland defense.

The 103rd Airlift Wing operates C-130H aircraft.

Connecticut based Airmen have served abroad and at home for decades and continue to support operations within the state and across the world.

C-130 Hercules

The C-130 Hercules primarily performs the tactical portion of the airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for air dropping troops and equipment into hostile areas. The C-130 operates throughout the U.S. Air Force, serving with Air Mobility Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Forces, Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve Command, fulfilling a wide range of operational missions in both peace and war situations. Read the full fact sheet.

ANG Federal Mission

The Air National Guard's federal mission is to maintain well-trained, well-equipped units available for prompt mobilization during war and provide assistance during national emergencies (such as natural disasters or civil disturbances). During peacetime, the combat-ready units and support units are assigned to most Air Force major commands to carry out missions compatible with training, mobilization readiness, humanitarian and contingency operations such as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.

ANG State Mission

When Air National Guard units are not mobilized or under federal control, they report to the governor of their respective state, territory (Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands) or the commanding general of the District of Columbia National Guard. Each of the 54 National Guard organizations is supervised by the adjutant general of the state or territory. Under state law, the Air National Guard provides protection of life, property and preserves peace, order and public safety. These missions are accomplished through emergency relief support during natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and forest fires; search and rescue operations; support to civil defense authorities; maintenance of vital public services and counterdrug operations.

Proud Heritage

From the beginning of military aviation....
The "Flying Yankees" of the 103rd Airlift Wing has a lineage that dates back to the earliest years of military aviation. The wing's geographically separated unit the 103rd Air Control Squadron, known as "Yankee Watch," is one of the oldest units of its kind in the Air National Guard.

...in the infancy of air warfare...
After fighting to free France in World War I, the parent of today's Flying Yankees spent a brief time in Rhode Island before standing up at Hartford's new Brainard Field in 1923. The 118th Observation Squadron was formed as the 43rd Aero Squadron's first component with the unit's first aircraft, the Curtis JN-4 "Jenny" arriving on June 13, 1924.

...to its proof as a force...
The nation called again in 1940, sending the Flying Yankees to perform long-range anti-submarine patrols and convert to a fighter/bomber mission with the P-40 and legendary P-51 Mustangs. As 1943 closed they were committed to the China-India-Burma Theater of Operations as the 118th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. Incorporated into Gen. Claire Chennault's Flying Tigers, they flew daily fighter and ground support missions against the Imperial Japanese infantry and cavalry forces with resounding success. The 118th Black Lighting Squadron achieved "Ace" status in just over six months of combat with 14 enemy aircraft destroyed in the air and four on the ground.

...fighting into the cold war and modern aviation age...
In September 1946, the 103rd Aircraft Control and Warning (AC&W) Squadron was founded at Hartford's Brainard Field and by 1951 the unit was activated to establish an AC&W squadron in Iceland. As Korea erupted into war, the Flying Yankees again answered the call sending virtually all the unit aircrews overseas for the fight.

...and defending the nation from the nuclear threat...
Following Korea, the Flying Yankees were assigned to Air Defense Command and redesignated the 103rd Fighter Interceptor Wing in 1956. As the cold war dominated the national psyche the unit stood 24-hour runway alert flying F-84, F-86, F100A and the F-102. While the cold war got warmer, Yankee Watch was activated for the Berlin Crisis in October 1961 to control Berlin-Frankfurt air corridor flights from Rothwesten Air Base, Germany. The Squadron redeployed home a year later and moved to its new and present home in Orange, Conn.

...then mastering the mission of today...
When national defense strategy changed again in the spring of 1971, the Flying Yankees were reassigned to Tactical Air Command flying the F-100D and F models in the close air support ground attack mission. For over 30 years, the Flying Yankees have perfected their skills in this mission. Gaining what is still the undisputed master of the ground support mission in 1979, the unit converted into the A-10 Thunderbolt II's. Since that time the Flying Yankees have accumulated a war chest of accomplishments winning competitions and staying on the cutting edge of modernization.

...developing capability, constantly in demand...
The nineties brought the Yankee Watch into the nation's Drug War, deploying frequently to remote locations from the Caribbean to the depths of the Amazon Jungle. The Flying Yankees proved the A-10s continued relevance in two deployments to Italy in support of U.N. and NATO forces in Bosnia. The Yankee Watch also deployed to Italy in 1994, 1996, and 1999 to support the coalition forces in the Balkans, becoming the first Guard radar unit to bring this capability to the theatre. Marking a first in the same theatre, the Flying Yankees were the first A-10 unit to deploy all its aircraft fully modified with the Night Vision Imaging System in 1996.

...the most capable units in the Air Force...
Iraqi no-fly zone enforcement and support filled the accomplishment list for both units in the late 1990's and into the new millennium. Members of each unit supported Operations NORTHERN and SOUTHERN WATCH from countries surrounding Iraq. The Flying Yankee's Operation SOUTHERN WATCH tour in September 2001 marked the first time A-10s deployed with all aircraft configured with the Countermeasures Management System and Embedded GPS/INS systems.

...ready for anything...
While the Flying Yankees had aircraft and most unit maintenance personnel guarding the skies over Iraq at the time of the tragic 9-II attacks, four home station A-10 aircraft were still loaded and placed on alert status in response to NORAD tasking within hours of the attack. The Yankee Watch's skill and position along Long Island Sound brought it to the forefront controlling airspace over the Sound and New York City immediately following the attack and establishment of Combat Air Patrols that blanketed the sky in the days and year that followed.

...and the Flying Yankees add capability as needed...
In late 2002 the Flying Yankees became part of the test modification of A-10s to employ LITENING II Targeting Pods. In February 2003 over 300 Flying Yankee personnel took seven specially modified A-10s from the 103rd to Southwest Asia for what became Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. The pod equipped unit scoured Western Iraq denying Iraq tactical ballistic missile launch opportunities - a new mission successfully completed along with a multitude of CAS and CSAR missions that saved the lives of many coalition forces. In 2003 the unique skills of Yankee Watch were employed in Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, to provide command, control and communications for the coalition forces engaged in daily fighting.

...and evolve with the needs of the nation...
While still maintaining A-10s, the Flying Yankees received C-21 transport aircraft in 2007 and began flying airlift missions October 1, 2007. At the same time, the wing supported these separate aircraft missions; it began operation of the Centralized Intermediate Repair Facility - TF-34 shipping its first engine November 3, 2007. The Flying Yankees also began a new command and control mission with the foundation of an Air Operations Center and an Air Mobility Detachment at Bradley in the 103rd Air and Space Operations Group, on January 1, 2008. The wing formally became the 103rd Airlift Wing later that year on April 1st.

...and now a new chapter begins...
In 2013 the deactivation of the 103rd Air and Space Operations Group began after nearly five years of direct support to the air war in Southwest Asia. During it's time the unit filled more than 400 individual deployments totaling approximately 14,000 days of deployed service providing command and control to operations in the skies over and around Iraq and Afghanistan. As one mission closed a new capability emerged; in June of 2013 the Flying Yankees began the conversion process from C-21 operations to C-130 operations.

...the best at what we do.
The Flying Yankees continue to evolve to meet the needs of the state and nation, maintaining a solid track record of mission success and viability. The Yankee Watch provides highly skilled Airmenfor the low density high demand air control mission. Both units keep with the motto: "Fidelis Et Alertus" translated as "Faithful and Alert." Faithful and Alert they remain, through dedicated efforts across the units, Connecticut Airmen strive to maintain their edge as the one of the most highly capable and combat-ready forces in U. S. Air Force.