Elmendorf Air Force Base: Wikis


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Elmendorf Air Force Base
Pacific Air Forces.png

United States Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)
Elmendorf AFB Alaska - 10sep2002.jpg
USGS aerial photo as of 10 September 2002
Airport type Military: Air Force Base
Operator United States Air Force
Location Anchorage, Alaska
In use 1940 - present
Commander Colonel Thomas W. Bergeson
Occupants 3d Wing
HQ Alaskan Command
Alaskan NORAD Region
Eleventh Air Force
Elevation AMSL 212 ft / 65 m
Coordinates 61°15′05″N 149°48′23″W / 61.25139°N 149.80639°W / 61.25139; -149.80639
Website www.elmendorf.af.mil
Direction Length Surface
ft m
6/24 10,000 3,048 Asphalt
16/34 7,505 2,288 Asphalt
Sources: FAA[1], official site[2]

Elmendorf Air Force Base (IATA: EDFICAO: PAEDFAA LID: EDF) is a United States Air Force base adjacent to Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska. It was named in honor of test pilot Captain Hugh M. Elmendorf. It is the home of the Headquarters, Alaskan Command (ALCOM), Alaskan NORAD Region (ANR), Eleventh Air Force (11 AF), the 3rd Wing, and some Tenant Units.

Elmendorf's mission is to support and defend U.S. interests in the Asia Pacific region and around the world by providing units who are ready for worldwide air power projection and a base that is capable of meeting PACOM's theater staging and throughput requirements.



Elmendorf's host unit is the 3d Wing. As the largest and principal unit within Eleventh Air Force, the 3d Wing trains and equips an Air Expeditionary Force lead wing made up of 6,900 personnel and F-15C/D, E-3B, C-17, F-22A and C-12F/J aircraft.

The 3d Wing provides air superiority, surveillance, tactical airlift and agile combat support forces for global deployment. It also maintains Elmendorf's infrastructure for critical force staging and throughput operations in support of worldwide contingencies and provides medical care for all forces in Alaska.

The 3d Wing is composed of four groups each with specific functions. The Operations Group controls all flying and airfield operations. The Maintenance Group performs Aircraft and Aircraft support equipment maintenance. The Mission Support Group has a wide range of responsibilities but a few of its functions are Security, Civil Engineering, Communications, Personnel Management, Logistics, Services and Contracting support. While the Medical Group provides medical and dental care.

  • 3d Mission Support Group
    • 3d Mission Support Squadron
    • 3d Logistics Readiness Squadron
    • 3d Contracting Squadron
    • 3d Civil Engineer Squadron
    • 3d Security Forces Squadron
    • 3d Services Squadron
    • 3d Communications Squadron
    • 3rd Wing Command Post
  • 3d Maintenance Group
    • 3d Maintenance Operations Squadron
    • 3d Equipment Maintenance Squadron
    • 3d Component Maintenance Squadron
    • 3d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
    • 703d Air Maintenance Squadron
  • 3d Medical Group

JBER (Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson) Elmendorf Air Force Base and adjacent Fort Richardson, home to the US Army Alaska (USARAK), and subordinate units, will merge into a single military installation. The process began Jan. 31 2009 and be finished by October of 2010. The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process identified Elmendorf and Fort Richardson as installations to become a single base

Base Realignment and Closure, 2005

The Department of Defense proposed a major realignment of the base as part of the Base Realignment and Closure program announced on May 13, 2005. Currently, under the plan, one F-15E and one F-15C squadron have been replaced with the F-22, and the C-130 fleet has been replaced with the C-17 Globemaster III.



Major Commands

  • Alaskan Defense Force, (June 1940 - February 1941)
  • Alaskan Defense Command, (February - May 1941)
  • Air Field Forces, Alaskan Defense Command, (May - December 1941)
  • Alaskan Air Force, (December 1941 - February 1942)
  • Eleventh Air Force, (February - September 1942)
  • Alaskan Air Command, (December 1945 - - August 1990)
  • Pacific Air Forces, (August 1990 - Present)

Base Operating Units

  • 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, USA (June 1940 - February 1941)
    (initial base complement)
  • 23d Air Base Group, (February 1941 - July 1942)
  • 23d Service Group, (July 1942 - January 1948)
  • 23d Air Service Group, (January - April 1948)
  • 57th Airdrome Group, (April - September 1948)
  • 57th Air Base Group, (September 1948 - January 1951)
  • 39th Air Depot Wing, (January 1951 - April 1953)
  • 5039th Air Base Wing, (April 1953 - October 1957)
  • 5040th Air Base Wing, (October 1957 - February 1959)
  • 5040th Air Base Wing, (August 1960 - July 1966)
  • 21st Air Base Group, (July 1966 - January 1980)
  • 21st Combat Support Group, (January 1980 - December 1991)
  • 3d Wing, (December 1991 - Present)

Major USAAF/USAF Units Assigned

  • 28th Bombardment Group (Composite) (February 1941 - March 1943)
  • 343d Fighter Group (September 1942 - March 1943)
  • 93d Air Depot Group (May 1944 - September 1946)
  • 28th Bombardment Group (June 1946 - June 1948)
  • 57th Fighter Group (March 1947 - April 1953)
  • 64th, 65th, 66th Fighter-Interceptor Squadrons (June 1947 - November 1957)
    (Under 10th Air Division)
  • 5039th Air Depot Wing (September 1948 - January 1951)
  • 39th Air Depot Wing (January 1951 - April 1953)
  • 5039th Air Base Wing (April 1953 - June 1957)
  • 5040th Air Base Wing (June 1957 - July 1966)
  • 21st Tactical Fighter Wing (May 1966 - December 1991)
  • 343d Tactical Fighter Wing (November 1977 - January 1980)
  • 3d Wing (December 1991 - Present)

Operational History

A Japanese F-15 takes off from Elmendorf during a joint exercise.
F-15s parked at Elmendorf AFB, 1999

World War II

Construction on Elmendorf Field began on June 8, 1940, as a major and permanent military airfield near Anchorage. The first Air Corps personnel arrived on 12 August 1940.

On 12 November 1940, the War Department formally designated what had been popularly referred to as Elmendorf Field as Fort Richardson. The air facilities on the post were named Elmendorf Field in honor of Captain Hugh M. Elmendorf, killed in 1933 while flight testing an experimental fighter near Wright Field, Ohio. After World War II, the Army moved its operations to the new Fort Richardson and the Air Force assumed control of the original Fort Richardson and renamed it Elmendorf Air Force Base.

The first Air Force unit to be assigned to Alaska, the 18th Pursuit Squadron, arrived in February 1941. The 23d Air Base Group was assigned shortly afterwards to provide base support. Other Air Force units poured into Alaska as the Japanese threat developed into World War II. The Eleventh Air Force was formed at Elmendorf AFB in early 1942. The field played a vital role as the main air logistics center and staging area during the Aleutian Campaign and later air operations against the Kurile Islands.

Cold War

Following World War II, Elmendorf assumed an increasing role in the defense of North America as the uncertain wartime relations between the United States and the Soviet Union deteriorated into the Cold War. The Eleventh Air Force was redesignated as the Alaskan Air Command (AAC) on 18 December 1945. The Alaskan Command, established 1 January 1947, also headquartered at Elmendorf, was a unified command under the Joint Chiefs of Staff based on lessons learned during World War II when a lack of unity of command hampered operations to drive the Japanese from the western Aleutian Islands of Attu and Kiska.

The uncertain world situation in late 1940s and early 1950s caused a major buildup of air defense forces in Alaska. The propeller-driven F-51s were replaced with F-80 jets, which in turn were replaced in succession by F-94s, F-89s, and F-102s interceptor aircraft for defense of North America. The Air Force built an extensive aircraft control and warning radar system with sites located throughout Alaska's interior and coastal regions. Additionally, the Air Force of necessity built the White Alice Communications System (with numerous support facilities around the state) to provide reliable communications to these far-flung, isolated, and often rugged locales. The Alaskan NORAD Regional Operations Control Center (ROCC) at Elmendorf served as the nerve center for all air defense operations in Alaska.

Air defense forces reached their zenith in 1957 with almost 200 fighter aircraft assigned to six fighter interceptor squadrons located at Elmendorf AFB and Ladd AFB. Eighteen aircraft control and warning radar sites controlled their operations. Elmendorf earned the motto "Top Cover for North America." AAC adopted the motto as its own in 1969.

The late 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s brought about a gradual, but significant decline in air defense forces in Alaska due to mission changes and the demands of the Vietnam War. The Air Force inactivated five fighter squadrons and closed five radar sites. In 1961, the Department of Defense consigned Ladd AFB to the Army which renamed it Fort Wainwright. The Alaskan Command was disestablished in 1975. Elmendorf began providing more support to other Air Force commands, particularly Military Airlift Command C-5 and C-141 flights to and from the Far East.

Despite a diminished number of personnel and aircraft, a turning point in Elmendorf's history occurred in 1970 with the arrival of the 43d Tactical Fighter Squadron in June 1970 from MacDill AFB, Florida. The squadron gave AAC an air-to-ground capability which was further enhanced with the activation of the 18th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf (also with F-4Es) on 1 October 1977.

The strategic importance of Elmendorf AFB was graphically realized during the spring of 1980 when the 18th Tactical Fighter Squadron deployed eight of its F-4Es to Korea to participate in exercise Team Spirit. It was a historical first and underlined an increasing emphasis AAC placed on its tactical role. The strategic location of Elmendorf AFB and Alaska made it an excellent deployment center, a fact that validated the contention of Billy Mitchell who, in 1935, stated that "Alaska is the most strategic place in the world." Deployments from Elmendorf AFB and Eielson AFB to the Far East are now conducted on a routine basis.

A T-33A of the 5021st Tactical Operations Squadron in 1984.

The 1980s witnessed a period of growth and modernization of Elmendorf AFB. During 1982, the 21st Tactical Fighter Wing converted from F-4s to F-15s. The 18th Tactical Fighter Squadron was assigned to Eielson AFB where it was equipped with A-10s. The 54th Tactical Fighter Squadron, of Aleutian Campaign fame, activated once again in 1987. Operating two F-15 Squadrons (43rd and 54th TFS), the F-15s were housed next to the 5021st Tactical Operations Squadron's T-33 Shooting Stars. Rounding out the modernization program was the construction of an enhanced Regional Operations Control Center (completed in 1983), and the replacement of the 1950s generation aircraft control and warning radars with the state of the art AN/FPS-117 Minimally Attended Radars. The integrated air warning and defense system became fully operational in mid 1985. Alaska's air defense force was further enhanced with the assignment of two E-3As to Elmendorf AFB in 1986. The Alaskan Command was reestablished at Elmendorf in 1989 as subunified joint service command under the Pacific Command in recognition of Alaska's military importance in the Pacific region.

The Elmendorf AFB is a site of one of the now decommissioned FLR-9 Wullenweber-class antennas, a node of the now obsoleted SIGINT direction finding system "Iron Horse".

Post Cold-War

That importance was further recognized when the F-15E Strike Eagle equipped 90th Tactical Fighter Squadron was reassigned to Elmendorf Air Force Base from Clark Air Base in the Philippines in May 1991. The Pacific Regional Medical Center moved from Clark to Elmendorf and construction of a new, greatly expanded hospital began in 1993. The early 1990s also saw major organizational changes and an expansion of Elmendorf's importance. In 1991, the 21st Tactical Fighter Wing was reorganized as an objective wing and all the major tenant units on Elmendorf were placed under it. The 21st Wing was de-activated and the 3d Wing was reassigned from Clark Air Base to Elmendorf Air Force Base on 19 December 1991. This was in keeping with the Air Force's polices of retaining the oldest and most illustrious units during a period of major force reductions. It is also an alternative landing site for the Space Shuttle.

See also


  1. ^ FAA Airport Master Record for EDF (Form 5010 PDF), retrieved 2007-03-15
  2. ^  This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "Elmendorf Air Force Base".
  • Endicott, Judy G. (1999) Active Air Force wings as of 1 October 1995; USAF active flying, space, and missile squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. CD-ROM.
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Mueller, Robert (1989). Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.

External links


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