South Carolina Swamp Fox fighter jets take on guardian role

An F- 16 fighter jet demonstration at the 2009 South Carolina National Guard Air Ground Expo at McEntire Joint National Guard Base.

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE — South Carolina’s famed “Swamp Fox” Air National Guard F-16 fighter jets have joined the nation’s air alert system, standing ready to respond to any threats over the southeastern United States.

Air National Guard officers say pilots and crews for the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base east of Columbia are ready around-the-clock.

The unit inherited the mission this month from active duty squadrons at nearby Shaw Air Force Base.

Both units fly the F-16 Flying Falcon. Crews live next to the hangars with armed jets so they can scramble within minutes if necessary.

The McEntire squadron becomes one of 18 that defend the air space of the United States and neighboring Canada.