Duluth Air National Guard Base is a United States Air National Guard base located on the grounds of Duluth International Airport. It is home to the 148th Fighter Wing.
The City of Duluth purchased the original property for the airport in 1929 from St. Louis County. The airport was constructed on 640 acres (2.6 km2) of land with two 2,650-foot (810 m) sod runways. Subsequently, in 1930, the airfield was dedicated as a public airport. The airport was called the Williamson-Johnson Municipal Airport until 1963 at which time it was renamed Duluth International Airport.
After World War II, the U.S. Air Force constructed permanent and semi-permanent facilities on land leased from the City of Duluth for use by the active Air Force and the Air National Guard. Beginning in 1948, the Minnesota Air National Guard built permanent facilities on the east end of the field. Air Defense Command (ADC) activated the 11th Fighter Interceptor Squadron on 1 December 1952 and the 515th Air Defense Squadron on 16 February 1953 under the Central Air Defense Force 31st Air Division. The 11th flew from Duluth until 1968, flying F-51H Mustangs, F-86D Sabrejets, F-89H/J Scorpions, F-102A Delta Daggers, and lastly F-106A Delta Dart interceptors. In 1968, the squadron was redesignated the 87th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron and continued to operate F-106s until 1979.
In 1966, the Air Defense Command 29th Air Division, operated a Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) radar command and control center from the airport. SAGE was an automated control system for tracking and intercepting enemy bomber aircraft used by NORAD. In later versions, the system could automatically direct aircraft to an interception by sending commands directly to the aircraft's autopilot. In 1969, the SAGE facility closed and the 23d Air Division replaced it. The 23d AD which was responsible for the air defense of the upper midwest.
The USAF phased out its Air Defense facilities in 1982, but the Minnesota ANG continues its operations.
Along with its commercial airport usage, the Minnesota Air National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing (148 FW), an Air Combat Command (ACC)-gained unit, is located at the airport. The air national guard base occupies 153.3 acres (620,000 m2) on the northeast corner of the airport. The munitions storage area, which is physically separated from the main base, occupies 16.71 acres (67,600 m2) north of Runway 09/27. The base has a total of 37 buildings; 18 industrial and 19 administrative. Normal ANG population is 320 personnel but surges to 1100 at least once each month during unit training assembly (UTA) drill sessions for the entire wing. The 148th previously flew the F-16A ADF and currently flies the F-16C Fighting Falcon.23d ADCOM Region, 8 December 1978
Transferred to ADTAC as 23d NORAD Region, 1 October 1979-31 December 1983
Duluth Air Defense Sector, 8 October 1957
Re-designated: 29th Air Division, 1 April 1966
Re-designated: 23d Air Division, 19 November 1969-15 April 1982
514th Air Defense Group, 16 February 1953
Re-designated: 343d Fighter Group, 18 August 1955-1 January 1959
4787th Air Base Squadron, 1 December 1952
Re-designated: 4787th Air Base Group, 28 August 1970-31 December 1983
4645th Air Defense Squadron (SAGE), 1 July 1972
Re-designated: 23d Air Defense Squadron (ADS)/(SAGE), 1 January 1975-31 December 1983
179th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (Federalized Minnesota Air National Guard) (ANG), 2 March 1951 – 1 December 1952 (F-51D)
74th Air Defense Missile Squadron (BOMARC), 1 April 1960 – 30 April 1972