The 196th Fighter Squadron formed on November 9, 1946. The unit was then located at nearby Norton AFB, in San Bernardino, California.
In June of 1948, the unit received 25 F-80C "Shooting Star" aircraft. The 196th was one of the first Air National Guard Units to receive these new jets.
The Air Force called the squadron to active duty on October 10, 1950 to assist United Nations Forces during the Korean Conflict. While stationed in Northern Japan, the unit flew F-84E "Thunderjets" side-by-side with regular active duty Air Force units, providing air defense for the area.
After fifteen months overseas, the 196th returned to the United States and resumed operations at Ontario international Airport in Ontario, California. The unit received and flew the F-51H "Mustang" as its primary mission aircraft, up to March 1954.
On May 17, 1958, the Air Force reorganized and expanded the 196th Fighter Interceptor Squadron into the 163rd Fighter Interceptor Group as part of the North American Defense Command. The unit progressed through the F-86 "Sabre" series of aircraft from 1954 to 1965. In 1965, the unit accepted the F-102 "Delta Dagger" as its new aircraft.
On March 8, 1975, with the 163rd reassigned under the Tactical Air Command the squadron received the 0-2A/B "Super Skymaster", before converting, in October of 1982, to the F-4C "Phantom". The 196th transitioned to the F-4E on April 1, 1987.
In July 1990, the unit once again changed missions was equipped with RF-4C aircraft and maintained a dual state/federal mission. The unit's primary mission was to provide tactical reconnaissance to all friendly forces. The unit was also actively involved in state wide missions. This was accomplished by using a system of visual, optical, electronic, and other sensory devices. During this time the aircrews accumulated over 30,000 hours of flying time and the unit deployed across both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
The 196th transitioned to the KC-135E in 1993 and to the KC-135R in 1996.
The 196th deployed to Pisa, Italy, in support of Operation Decisive Endeavor. During that period, the unit also flew as the lead unit in support of flight operations over Bosnia.
In 1999, the 163rd deployed three KC-135R aircraft in support of Operation Allied Force. The 196th flew combat missions around-the-clock refueling NATO aircraft, including complex night formation sorties with the F-117A.
1999 saw the 196th's Pacer CRAG conversion begin in June and be completed by the end of the year.
The 196th provided support to NATO's Operation Joint Forge while deployed to Istres Air Base, France from 31 October through 3 December 2000, deploying three KC-135 Stratotanker air refueling aircraft.
The 196th ARS provided support to NATO's Operation Joint Forge while deployed to Istres Air Base, France from 31 October through 3 December 2000, deploying three KC-135 Stratotanker air refueling aircraft.
The 196th Air refueling Squadron provides trained and qualified aircrew in support of Air Mobility Command's Global Reach Mission.
The squadron also provides and manages personnel and aerospace assets to support worldwide strategic and tactical aerial refueling, and rapid movement of people and cargo to meet United States Air Force, Air National Guard and the State of California.