The Rhode Island Air National Guard is set to receive a new $46 million headquarters at Quonset Air National Guard Base in North Kingstown, thanks to funding secured by U.S. Senator Jack Reed.

The state-of-the-art complex will replace the current 81-year-old facility, modernizing the base of operations for the 143rd Airlift Wing and enabling it to better support its C-130J and cyber defense missions. The new headquarters will also have the added capability of functioning as a command and control center in emergencies, operating around the clock to support contingencies.

The funding for the project was earmarked in the fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations bill currently making its way through Congress.

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Reed Lands $46M for New & Improved Air National Guard HQ at Quonset

New modern home for the Rhode Island Air National Guard’s 143d Airlift Wing will replace an aging 81-year-old HQ, medical facility, and DFAC

NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI  In an effort to ensure the men and women of Rhode Island’s Air National Guard have updated resources to continue operating efficiently and providing exceptional service, U.S. Senator Jack Reed secured a new $46 million earmark to build a state-of-the-art headquarters at Quonset Air National Guard Base in North Kingstown.  The new, modernized facility will have the added capability of functioning as a command and control center in emergencies that can operate 24/7 to support contingencies.

Reed says Quonset Air Base, which comprises 105.7 acres, is a strategic asset that is home to both the Air and Army National Guard, which use the facility for training and aviation operations.

The new headquarters complex will replace an outdated facility, modernizing the 143rd Airlift Wing’s base of operations, making it more efficient and mission-ready to support its C-130J and cyber defense missions and a wide range of assignments from the Pentagon or the Governor of Rhode Island.

Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, earmarked $46 million in federal funds for the project in the fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations bill making its way through Congress.

“It’s a big deal for Rhode Island to have this unit based here and I am grateful to our Airmen and women for their dedicated service.  We’re going to improve the work environment here and make a great air base even better.  When it’s completed, this new headquarters will help the 143rd Airlift Wing enhance operation efficiency and support its important missions in many ways,” said Reed.  “This project has major workforce benefits, both in terms of construction jobs created and supporting the 143rd Airlift Wing’s military and civilian personnel.  The Guard is a valued employer in Rhode Island and the federal government must do its part to invest in our men and women in uniform.  I will continue working to deliver for Rhode Island and meet the military’s future needs.  Quonset is a strategic and ideal location for some of our military’s critical aircraft and we’re going to ensure we have the most modern equipment, facilities, and training to match.”

The Rhode Island Air National Guard employs about 1,120 military and civilian personnel, including pilots, maintenance, operation, and support personnel.  The 143d Airlift Wing is responsible for providing global airlift support and deploys eight C-130J Super Hercules aircraft.

“The 143d Airlift Wing sincerely thanks Senator Reed and Rhode Island’s Congressional Delegation for their unwavering support of Rhode Island’s Citizen Airmen.  The innovative headquarters, medical, and multi-purpose facility will be the result of years of diligent effort from the entire RHODY Team, Commanders, and Base Civil Engineers, working tirelessly towards this exceptional outcome.  The new building will enable the 143d Airlift Wing to continue its success as the nation’s premier Airlift, Cyberspace, and Combat Communication Wing.  RHODY Multi-capable Airmen will now have the facilities to take the lead in Agile Combat Employment, generating future ready RHODY Airmen for the Rhode Island National Guard, the State of Rhode Island, and the United States Air Force,” said Major General Christopher P. Callahan.

The 143rd Airlift Wing is currently working out of a hulking, outdated facility that was constructed in 1941.  The facility has far exceeded its useful life and many of its components are failing, inefficient, or do not meet current code requirements, including a leaky roof, unreliable HVAC and electrical systems, and the presence of lead paint and asbestos in some parts of the building. 

The new facility will be more modern and streamlined, while shrinking the building’s footprint from 71,302 square feet to 43,550 square feet.

The new facility will accommodate 75-80 fulltime personnel with the capacity to support the entire RIANG.  In addition to office space, it will include medical facilities for the Medical Group and a 10,300 square foot dining facility (DFAC) that will serve as a multi-purpose space for major events.  The DFAC will be capable of serving over 1,100 Airmen and women during Unit Training Assemblies and unit events.  It will also frequently serve as an area for organizational gatherings, briefings, awards presentations, and promotion ceremonies.

The DFAC will also provide space for state and federal contingencies.  It will aid in the Wing’s ability to provide support during emergencies because of its proximity to the logistics readiness processing and mobilization facility.

Currently, the Medical Group has been relocated off site to a leased facility in North Kingstown. The Medical Group is comprised of five fulltime Airmen and 71 total medical personnel supporting medical readiness for all RIANG Airmen and women. 

The rest of the RIANG full-time and Unit Training Assembly personnel will continue to work out of the existing headquarters on 1 Hercules Drive while the new facility is constructed nearby.  This course of action requires expeditious MILCON construction and saves taxpayers nearly $10 million by not requiring the construction of temporary modular facilities.

After the new facility is completed, the original headquarters (Bldg P-1) will be demolished in a separate future project.

This upcoming $46 million construction project builds on a series of recent federal investments to upgrade the Air Base, including: a new control tower, flight simulator complex, fuels complex (currently under construction by the Army Corps of Engineers), repair supply warehouse, fitness center, and specialized Airport Fire Department.

The Air National Guard has both a federal and state mission.  The dual mission, a provision of the U. S. Constitution, results in each Guardsman holding membership in the National Guard of his or her state and in the National Guard of the United States.

The Air National Guard provides almost half of the Air Force’s tactical airlift support, combat communications functions, aeromedical evacuations, and aerial refueling.  In addition, the Air National Guard has total responsibility for air defense of the entire United States.

When Air National Guard units are not mobilized or under federal control, they report to the governor of their respective state.  However, in practice the Air Force has the last word on many key issues due to the fact that the U.S. Department of Defense supplies most of the Air Guard’s budget (with the federal government supporting over 94 cents on the dollar) and defines its mission.