The 174th Fighter Wing was formed on 28 October 1947 as the 138th Fighter Squadron (FS). The 138th FS was the first post-WWII Air National Guard flying unit in New York State. The unit flew P-47D Thunderbolts and was based at the former Army Air Force facilities at Hancock Field.
In 1950, the unit became the first jet - equipped flying unit in New York State with the assignment of F-84B Thunderjets. The base became the main training hub in the State for jet fighter aircraft. In 1957, F-86H Sabresarrived and the 138th FS was assigned to Tactical Air Command, starting its long history of performing the close air support mission.
The 138th FS was mobilized in 1961 through 1962 by command of President John F. Kennedy. It was under the control of the 102nd Tactical Fighter Wing. The unit was called to active duty with the USAF during the Berlin Crisis. The unit served in Phalsbourg-Bourscheid Air Base for a period of approximately two years. Upon return to the United States, the unit was renamed the 174th Tactical Fighter Group (TFG).
In October, 1979, the 174th TFG status changed from group to wing (TFW) and the unit was converted to the Fairchild A-10A Thunderbolt II, nicknamed the Wart Hog.
The first F-16A Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft arrived in 1988 and the 174th TFW became the USAF test unit for the close air support role of the F/A-16 with the 30 mm gun pod. The unit received the USAF's Outstanding Maintenance Squadron Award that year.
In 1991, the 174th TFW deployed to the Persian Gulf with 516 members in support of Operation Desert Storm. The 174th was one of only two Air National Guard units to fly combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. The unit received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, with the "V" device for valor, during Operation Desert Storm; the Air Force Association Outstanding Unit Award; and the National Guard Association's Best Family Support Center Award.
In 1992, the unit changed its name from the 174th TFW to its current designation, the 174th Fighter Wing (FW). In 1995, and for the next two years, the 174th FW deployed twice to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey in support of Operation Provide Comfort II and Operation Northern Watch. It also upgraded its aircraft to the F-16C Fighting Falcon.
Over the years, the 174th Fighter Wing has been awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit award in 1981, 1983, 1986, and 1990.
On 11 August 2008, it was reported that the 174th Fighter Wing would replace all F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft with MQ-9 Reaperunmanned combat aircraft. On 6 March 2010, the last 2 F-16Cs departed Hancock Field marking the end of F-16 aircraft operations at the base. Aircraft 85-1570 and 85-1561 made three low passes for the assembled crowd gathered to commemorate the end of manned aviation at the Syracuse ANG base. The unit then transitioned to the remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper.