Fort Smith’s 188th Wing Announces Expansion

FORT SMITH (KFSM)- After years of uncertainly at the 188th Fighter Wing, the Air National Guard Base announces a major expansion.

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- An expansion worth more than $14 million is underway at the 188th Wing and it will be the only one of its kind in the country.

"It`s the only one that will house three mission sets," Col. Robert Kinney, Commander of the 188th Wing said. "The three mission sets being remotely piloted aircraft mission, the distributed ground station mission which is the analysis portion with our intelligence analyst and then the targeting mission which is another intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission."

Base officials said airmen will use the building to strengthen coordination between missions while gaining more success with operations. Kinney said it will also help with recruitment.

"This mission set we believe these kids want to get into these high tech mission sets. They like the idea of analysis, they like the idea of working with computers, they like the idea of potentially using a joystick," Kinney explained.

The new building will be 40,000-square-foot, and is located to the right of the 188th flight line, near the Fort Smith Regional Airport. Construction is expected to be complete within two years.

The 188th Wing brings in more than $100 million annually to Fort Smith. The expansion will benefit the the community, too, base officials said.

"It affects the entire economy in Fort Smith. All the restaurants and all the retail shops benefit from having the men and women here serve. So, growing the facility here is positive for the viability of the economy here," Tim Allen, president and CEO of Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce said.

Kinney said, "When you`re working behind the scenes to make this happen, you wonder whether or not if this day is really going to come to fruition... we will stand here in 2020 with a new facility behind us. It's exciting."