Air Superiority – The Economic Impact of Indiana’s 122nd Fighter Wing

Air Superiority – The Economic Impact of Indiana’s 122nd Fighter Wing

In Allen County, activities surrounding Indiana’s Air National Guard 122nd Fighter Wing make a tremendous impact on the state and local economy. Some folks have a misconception about the National Guard being only a part-time employer, but that’s not an accurate representation of the unit’s true stance as an economic generator. The reality is much bigger than one might expect, and it may grow even stronger in the coming years as the unit sets out to upgrade its fighting fleet.

 

Multimillion Dollar Impact

Recent data from the Purdue University Fort Wayne’s Community Research Institute on behalf of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. shows just how far the 122nd Fighter Wing’s economic impact really goes. The researchers described their findings on multiple levels, including local, regional, and statewide. They also measured the direct, indirect, and induced impact of the 122nd.

Within Allen County, the local spending of the 122nd is estimated at $63.5 million, and $94.1 million across the 10 northeastern counties of Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District. Statewide, the base’s economic impact is estimated to total $113 million. This spending includes operational expenditures such as employee payroll and benefits, utilities and maintenance, food, lodging, and education.

According to the report, the 122nd supports over 1,100 jobs annually throughout the state of Indiana. In Allen County alone, the air base supports an estimated 672 employees – 60% of the total statewide jobs supported by the base.

“All too often, the Indiana National Guard and the Indiana Air National Guard are only looked at as a part-time employer. The 122nd Fighter Wing, with 423 full-time military and civilian employees and 727 part-time military employees, is a major employer in our community. It is important for the community to understand the role of the 122nd Fighter Wing as an economic driver in Indiana,” said John Urbahns, president and CEO of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

“It is worth noting the economic impact of the 122nd Fighter Wing is likely much larger and dynamic than what the available data represents,” added Rachel Blakeman, director of the Purdue University Fort Wayne Community Research Institute.

“The 122nd Fighter Wing is extremely proud of our positive economic impact on the local and statewide communities we love and share,” said Col. Joshua C. Waggoner, 122nd Fighter Wing commander. “We now stand poised to promote enduring positive impact thanks to our conversion to the F-16 fighter aircraft, which will continue to grace the skies above Indiana for years to come.”

 

Firepower Upgrade

Last year, one of the major news announcements from the 122nd was the recently approved plan to convert its fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft to the F-16 Fighting Falcon. This conversion was part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is a bipartisan agreement that pertained to national defense investments.

The authors from the Purdue Fort Wayne economic impact report said, “The transition to the F-16 continues not only military readiness, but also the economic benefits of the 122nd Fighter Wing in our community.”

“This newer, more versatile aircraft will provide for an increase in combat capability against growing threats. The men and women of the 122nd Fighter Wing are experts at supporting, maintaining, and operating fighter aircraft,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Stohler, commander of the Indiana Air National Guard. “This transition will provide them with longevity and the high probability to later upgrade to the future generation of fighter aircraft.”

“Conversion to the F-16 will allow the 122nd to build upon past successes and continue to pass the trials of the national defense strategy in new ways, long into the future,” said Col. Waggoner. “Since conversion to the F-16 was first proposed more than five years ago, the 122nd has continuously worked to be poised and ready when given the opportunity.”

According to details from 122nd spokespeople, the full conversion of the fleet may take up to another year. The unit doesn’t expect any job cuts, just some potential movements and retraining.

 

Sky-High Economics

In the airspace above Allen County, the 122nd Fighter Wing soars as a powerful force for economic growth. Its impact, both local and statewide, is nothing short of impressive, reaching multimillion-dollar heights that benefit our communities in countless ways. As the unit makes its transition to the F-16 Fighting Falcon, its positive influence on our local and statewide economies will continue to rise, symbolizing a sky-high commitment to business growth and national defense.

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