Federal and State Missions
The 161st Air Refueling Wing’s federal mission is to organize, train and equip units and individuals to meet worldwide requirements in support of the Air Force’s Global Reach mission. It is a combat force multiplier for rapid mobilization, worldwide deployment, airlift, aeromedical evacuation and sustained aerial refueling operations for United States and partner nation air forces. The unit enables global engagement by maintaining all-weather warfighting capability in support of conventional and nuclear operations, special operations, contingency tasking, and homeland defense.
As a component of the Arizona National Guard, the wing has a state mission to provide protection of life, property and preserve 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.
Vision for the 161st
Expand to Meet Demand The 161st Air Refueling Wing’s primary goal is to increase its fleet of permanently assigned KC-135s from eight aircraft to 12. Four additional tankers will help ensure the wing meets demand in the Southwest and continues in its role as a key mobility force for the next 70 years.
The KC-135 is the core air refueling platform for the United States Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 50 years. The 161st operates the KC-135 “R” model, the latest version of the aircraft. Depending on the fuel storage configuration, the KC-135 can carry up to 200,000 pounds of JP-8 fuel, and 83,000 pounds of cargo, or personnel.
Between aeromedical evacuations, disaster relief efforts, and delivery of cargo and personnel, the 161st is one of the busiest tanker units in the Air Force and the Air National Guard. The wing deploys the tanker globally, landing and operating in both foreign and domestic soil in order to support multinational military and humanitarian missions, flying an average of 3,800 hours annually.