Mayor G.T. Bynum, Adjutant General Michael Thompson, and 138th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Michael Meason led a ribbon cutting today at the Air National Guard Mission Training Center, a Vision Tulsa project. U.S. Representatives Kevin Hern and Markwayne Mullin also participated in the event. The training center is located on the Tulsa Air National Guard Base, home of the 138th Fighter Wing.
“Through the Tulsa Air National Guard Mission Training Center, Tulsa voters and taxpayers each have a part in supporting the defense of our country and jobs to strengthen our local economy,” Mayor Bynum said. “We appreciate having the 138th Fighter Wing in our community, and we are proud of these airmen who are working for our safety and protecting our freedom as Americans.”
The 20,000-square-foot Mission Training Center will house four state-of-the-art flight simulators to provide realistic combat training for fighter pilots. The 138th Fighter Wing in Tulsa is the first Air National Guard unit in the country to receive this cutting-edge technology. Only installed at a select few Air Force bases, the Mission Training Center will be a regional training facility – the only one of its kind in the area, with the closest similar facility being in Las Vegas.
“This Mission Training Center is truly a game-changer for the readiness and lethality of the 138th Fighter Wing,” said Col. Michael Meason. “The additional operational training capacity it provides our pilots; the ability to simulate the full spectrum of complex threat scenarios and the employment of weapons without airspace and range restrictions is invaluable. This facility will help ensure our pilots are always ready to defend our nation’s freedom with lethal, agile combat air power.”
This project has been made possible through a federal, state and city partnership. The building was constructed using $9.4 million in Vision Tulsa funds; the State of Oklahoma provided $608,000 for road improvements, and federal funding is providing $25 million for the F-16 simulator systems. Cockpits for the simulators, worth $5 million each, were manufactured locally in Broken Arrow at L3 Technologies.
“Tulsans play a big role in the safety and security of our nation,” said Rep. Kevin Hern. “The opening of the new Air National Guard Mission Training Center in Tulsa points to the strength of our community and the value that Oklahomans add to the defense of the American people. The incredible men and women of the Air National Guard will make Oklahoma, and the nation, proud as they work to stay up-to-date on the technologies and strategies that will keep our people safe.”
Oklahoma architecture firm LWPB (from Norman) designed the facility, and Crossland Construction Co. (from Tulsa) was the construction manager.
“The 138th Fighter Wing is more than a valuable part of our Tulsa community,” U.S. Senator James Inhofe said. “It is a key partner in the region’s military training. This facility highlights Tulsa’s leadership in cutting edge technology and the significance of the training the men and women of the 138th Fighter Wing do day in and day out.”
“Congratulations to Tulsa’s 138th Fighter Wing on today’s opening of the new, state-of-the-art Mission Training Center, which will enhance the operational effectiveness of the 138th and the Oklahoma Air National Guard,” U.S. Senator James Lankford said. “Today is the culmination of a lot of hard work from many individuals both at the federal level and in Tulsa. This new training center will ensure the 138th remains a vital leader in the future of the Air National Guard and the US Air Force. It will also enhance the Wing’s service to Oklahoma and our nation.”
Fighter pilots require great preparation to become mission ready; however, various types of required training are seldom conducted at Air National Guard bases due to limitations such as lack of available simulated adversaries, lack of low-level training missions and engagements, and the lack of supersonic airspace.
Simulator capability allows fighter pilots at their home station – such as Tulsa Air National Guard – to exercise and train at the tactical and operational levels of war before going into combat. Simulators in Tulsa will allow Tulsa pilots to train with other pilots flying actual planes at various locations worldwide and with pilots at other mission training centers. This training provides continuity between live and virtual scenarios.
During the event, Mayor Bynum also announced the creation of a City-of-Tulsa-led taskforce of government, civic and aerospace leaders to secure Tulsa as the next home for the F-35. Tulsa’s 138th Fighter Wing is in the running to be selected as one of the next three Air National Guard operating locations in the country that could house the F-35. The 138th Fighter Wing currently operates the 4th generation F-16. If Tulsa is selected for the conversion of the F-35, the 138th Fighter Wing could preserve the local economic impact of the facility for decades and ensure sustainment of 1,200 local jobs.
About Vision Tulsa
Vision Tulsa, an $884 million sales tax renewal package approved by voters in 2016, is making substantial investments in economic development, education, public safety, streets and transportation needs citywide. With citizen priorities providing the driving force behind the creation of Vision Tulsa, transformative projects and enhancements are setting the stage for a bright future for Tulsa.