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148th Fighter Wing May Lose 24-Hour Alert Status

Posted at: 03/01/2013 12:24 PM
Updated at: 03/01/2013 10:42 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

The 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth could lose it's 24-hour alert status according to the North American Aerospace Defense Command.

The organization known better as NORAD is considering removing the alert status for the base in Duluth and one in the state of Virginia for a total savings of $73 million over 5 years.

A NORAD spokesperson could not tell Eyewitness News details about how that move would affect the 148th.

In a statement the Minnesota National Guard said they are aware of the possible change, but remain on alert at this time. A spokesperson for the 148th Fighter Wing said the unit does have 71 full-time positions tied to the alert mission.

The unit's alert status was threatened last year, but former Congressman Chip Cravaak introduced an amendment to label it as essential. A condition to that amendment required further analysis of the alert mission.

NORAD said a comprehensive analysis shows that removing the 148th from alert status would not hurt it's ability to scramble fighters in an emergency.

A NORAD spokesperson said this option is only under consideration for now, but there is no timeline for making a final decision.

The 148th continues to stand alert, but questions surround the future of that mission.

NORAD said the proposed cuts are not related to the sequester cuts, but U.S. Congressman Rick Nolan plans to visit the base on Saturday to talk about sequestration and it's impact on the 148th Fighter Wing.