The Iowa Air Guard’s fighter wing in Sioux City will become a refueling wing. Iowa National Guard adjutant general Ron Dardis was once commander of the unit.Dardis, who’s a former fighter-jet pilot, admitted the change was difficult, but he said it was the right change to make. He says the Air Force needs additional tankers to preserve national security.Governor Tom Vilsack, in his role as Commander-in-Chief of the Iowa National Guard, was on hand for Saturday’s announcement. Vilsack says the announcement helps cement the opportunity for the guard to remain in Sioux City.Nearly one thousand officers and airmen are assigned to the Sioux City unit, and nearly 360 people are full-time employees. Vilsack says there shouldn’t be any job losses.Sioux City Mayor Marty Dougherty says the announcement brings mixed emotions. He says there is a great deal of pride in the F-16 unit.The military will make 40-million dollars worth of improvements to Sioux City’s airport and Doughtery says that might mean big things for the community.The decision to shift the Sioux City unit’s role came as the military modernizes, getting rid of the early model F-16 fighter jets which have been flown by Iowa Air Guard pilots based in Sioux City. The Des Moines fighter wing flies newer model F-16s and is not affected by Saturday’s announcement. The Air Control Squadron in Fort Dodge is becoming a test and evaluation squadron for the U-S Air Force.
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