Delaware Air National Guard Delaware Army National Guard
New Castle Air National Guard Base (IATA: ILG, ICAO: KILG, FAA LID: ILG), is a military airport located in unincorporated New Castle County, Delaware, United States and four miles (6 km) south of the central business district of the city of Wilmington. The airport is home to both the 166th Airlift Wing (166 AW), an Air Mobility Command (AMC) gained unit of the Delaware Air National Guard flying the C-130 Hercules, and the Delaware Army National Guard's 150th Aviation Regiment, flying UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, and the 121st Air Ambulance, flying UH-1 Iroquois helicopters. The airport's civilian name is New Castle Airport.
Previously called the Wilmington Airport and the Greater Wilmington Airport, the property became a Army Air Forces military airfield named New Castle Army Air Base (AAB) during World War II.
Opened in May 1943,] New Castle AAB was assigned to the Air Corps Ferrying Command 2d Ferrying Group with the 552d Army Air Forces Base Unit being the host unit in charge of the base and its facilities. The primary mission of the airfield was to facilitate the movement of aircraft overseas for delivery to the British and other Allies. Members of the historic Women Air Force Service Pilots(WASP). WASPs served as test and ferry pilots and towed targets for student gunners. There is a statue today at the airport that honors the women of WASP that served their country in the time of need. On 30 June 1945, the 1596th AAF Base Unit replaced the 552d AAFBU and the 2d Ferrying group was replaced by the 2d Foreign Transport Group. The mission of the base was changed to being responsible for overseas air transport of passengers and air cargo.] With the general drawdown of the Air Force after the war, New Castle Airport became a joint-use base, with civilian aircraft operating from the airfield as an airport.
On 1 September 1949, the military facilities at the airport were assigned to Continental Air Command (ConAC) and theAir Force Reserve 512th Air Base Group became the host unit, remaining so until 31 January 1951 when it was reassigned to Reading Municipal Airport, Pennsylvania,. In 1950 the facility was renamed "New Castle Air Force Base" and on 8 September 1950, the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, equipped with the F-86A Sabre was reassigned to New Castle, giving the airfield an air-superiority mission. The 4th FIW was deployed to Japan on 10 November 1950, with a mission to counter the MiG threat in the skies of Korea. The 4th FIW became the top MiG killing organization during the Korean War. In addition to the 4th FIW, the 334th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron was activated on the base in 1950, initially flying F-80 Shooting Stars, and in 1952, being replaced by F-94 Starfires. In 1952, the 334th was involved in a UFO incident when its interceptors were scrambled to intercept unknown objects detected flying over Washington, D.C.
The 512th ABG was replaced by the Federalized Delaware Air National Guard's 113th Air Base Group becoming the host unit on 1 February 1951. The mission of the 113th was to organize, administer, equip, train and prepare assigned personnel for combat and to maintain a level of operational effectiveness. During its tenure as host unit, the Air Force Reserve and the 512th Troop Carrier Group flying C-46 Commandoes (325th, 326th, 327th and 328th Troop Carrier Squadrons) returned from Reading after it closed as a reserve facility. The 512th remained at New Castle as a reserve tenant unit until being reassigned to Willow Grove Air Reserve Station, Pennsylvania on 20 July 1958.
With its activation ended in 1952, the 113th was replaced by the 82d Air Base squadron on 2 January 1952.
New Castle Airport was reassigned to Air Defense Command (ADC) on 16 February 1953, and the 4710th Defense (later Air Defense) Wing became the host unit. (16 February 1953-1 March 1956). With its activation, the base was assigned to the Eastern Air Defense Force 26th Air Division In addition, plans were made to elevate the base to a full USAF installation. In March 1953, the F-94C Starfire 332nd Fighter-Interceptor Squadron joined the 334th FIS at New Castle.
In 1955, the ADC units at New Castle were upgraded to a group level, with the activation of the 82nd Fighter-Interceptor Group. The squadrons were re-designated as the 97th and 96th Fighter-Interceptor squadrons, still fling F-94Cs.
In 1957, it was announced that Air Defense Command would be reducing its forces, and the 82d FIG was inactivated on 8 January 1958. The base was downgraded to an Air National Guard facility, with the facility being turned over to local authorities. The New Castle County Airport then hosted the 166th Air Transport Group, successively known as the 166th Military Airlift Group, 166th Tactical Airlift Group, 166th Airlift Group and now known as the 166th Airlift Wing, operating C-130H Hercules.
In the mid-1990s, the Base appeared on the federal Base Realignment and Closure list in a context which would have grounded the 166th Airlift Wing. Further, the Base was among those targeted for closure by the Pentagon as of May 2005. However, by the late 1990s a reversal in the fate of the Base had been realized and in excess of $130 million in federal funds had been allocated for capital projects for Base improvement.