142nd Wing Oregon Air National Guard
142nd Wing Oregon Air National Guard
Portland Air National Guard Base
28 June 2022
The 142nd Wing of the Oregon Air National Guard is located at the Portland International Airport, near the city of Portland Oregon. I had the great pleasure of visiting the unit on 28 June 2022
First, I want to pass along special thanks to my great hosts: MSgt Steven Conklin and MSgt Stephanie Sawyer from the 142nd Wing Public Affairs office, and MSgt David Whitley and TSgt Aaron Hartley from the 142nd Maintenance Group, for their assistance and hospitality.
A change in Wing designation to be noted: on 6 March 2020, the unit was redesignated 142nd Wing from 142nd Fighter Wing, to better articulate its broad capabilities.
McDonnell Douglas / Boeing F-15 Eagle
The 142nd Wing’s first F-15 Eagles arrived in 1989, utilizing the A and B variant for many years. Currently, the unit operates the C and D variants. The flying unit of the 142nd Wing is the 123rd Fighter Squadron, aligned under the 142nd Operations Group.
The 142nd Wing is one of 6 Air National Guard units to operate the F-15C/D Eagle, and 1 of 2 belonging to the Oregon Air National Guard. A 24/7/365 alert function also operates at the airport. Not only does the unit maintains the alert at Portland, but it has also participated in operations and training globally, and routinely hosts other dissimilar military units for training.
Interestingly, the 142nd was on the 2006 Base Realignment and Closure recommended list for closure, but fortunately was spared.
In 2018, the unit was scrambled for a very unique situation – a commercial Horizon Bombardier Q400 was stolen at Sea tac Airport. You can read about it in the below links.
Portland International Airport is the 33rd busiest airport in the United States, in terms of passenger traffic. Having a fighter unit based at such a busy airport, along with the alert function, means collaboration and existing with the other airport tenants and community. Based on my research, Portland International Airport is the busiest US airport in the continental US, and 2nd in the overall US, after Honolulu, with a fighter and alert presence.
Due to the noise constraints, most of the take offs are without afterburner. However, the alert launches use afterburner, which I was fortunate to catch two alert jets launching during my visit.
The unit recently received some Eagles from the 493rd Fighter Squadron (FS) Royal Air Force Lakenheath and the 433rd Weapons Squadron (WPS) from Nellis AFB. A couple from Nellis were still wearing their former unit markings. The total number of Eagles on hand is in flux with the former unit ones coming in and older ones leaving.
Eagle Nose art
Most of the Eagles also carry nose art on the left forward fuselage, representing towns and cities around Portland.
There are currently 2 jets with tribute markings on them, in honor of former maintainers.
86-0151 carries markings, including a distinct shark mouth, in honor of MSgt Marty Nance, a former maintainer and shark lover. A video about the tribute markings can be seen here.
82-0016 honors MSgt Brian “Yaki” James and has some different markings including a red hawk name plate on the left side, where the pilot’s name goes, and on the inside tails, a rose and “City of Roses” text.
The history of the 142nd Wing began just prior to World War 2, and details can be found on their site here.
For a complete list of aircraft that have served the 142nd Wing, please see this link: List of aircraft to serve the 142nd Wing
The Future – the Boeing F-15EX Eagle II
The unit is scheduled to be the first operational unit to fly the new Boeing F-15EX Eagle II. With the target dates changing, right now, it is scheduled for January 2024, when the first 4 to 6 aircraft should arrive. The unit will operate both the C and EX for a transition period, which is planned to be approximately 4 years. The delivered jets will have General Electric engines, so maintenance on both Pratt & Whitney and GE engines will have to be done. The initial jets delivered will not have the conformal fuel tanks (CFTs) included – the CFTS hold fuel but also have external hard points for munitions. Around 2028, the CFTs should start arriving. Additionally, the unit will take on an air to ground role as well, with dates unknown right now. The EX has extensive capabilities for carrying air to ground weapons.
Thank you again to all the men and women of the 142nd Wing for a terrific visit!