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Proposed mission change for Duluth fighter wing

DULUTH, Minn. -- Proposed budget cuts in the U. S. Department of Defense could mean a change in missions for the Minnesota Air National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing at Duluth.

Currently the base is one of 18 stations in the U.S., Alaska and Hawaii that's on alert around the clock. The Fighter Wing is prepared to intercept any air threats, including hijacked aircraft, at a moment's notice.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said in a statement to the Duluth News Tribune the fiscal year 2013 budget eliminates two NORAD sites, including Duluth. Fighter Wing Major Audra Flanagan says it could cost the unit about 70 of its 450 full-time jobs.

The unit recently learned that active-duty military personnel will come to the base to train and work with guard members.