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Langley Air Force Base

Air Combat Command.png
Part of Air Combat Command

Langley AFB.jpg
Aerial view of Langley AFB
Location of Langley Air Force Base
Airport type Military: Air Force Base
Operator United States Air Force
Location Hampton, Virginia
Built 1916
Commander Col. Donald "Gene" Kirkland,
Occupants 633d Air Base Wing
1st Fighter Wing
480th Intelligence Wing
192D Fighter Wing
Elevation AMSL 11 ft / 3 m
Coordinates 37°04′58″N 076°21′38″W / 37.08278°N 76.36056°W / 37.08278; -76.36056
Direction Length Surface
ft m
8/26 10,000 3,480 Concrete
Sources: official website[1] and FAA[2]
Two F-22A turn in on final approach to Langley Air Force Base

Langley Air Force Base (IATA: LFIICAO: KLFIFAA LID: LFI) is located three nautical miles (6 km) north of the central business district of the city of Hampton, Virginia, United States.[2] In January 2010, Langley realigned with Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia to become Joint Base Langley-Eustis.[3]

Langley is the home of the United States Air Force's 633d Air Base Wing (633 ABW), 1st Fighter Wing (1 FW) and the 480th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing (480 ISRW). It also hosts the Global Cyberspace Integration Center field operating agency, the 192D Fighter Wing of the Virginia Air National Guard and Headquarters Air Combat Command (ACC).

The base is one of the oldest facilities of the Air Force, being established on Dec. 30, 1916, prior to World War I by the Army Air Service, named for aviation pioneer Samuel Pierpont Langley. It was used during World War I as a flying field; balloon station; observers’school; photography school; experimental engineering department, and for aerial coast defense.[4]


633d Air Base Wing

The 633d Air Base Wing (633 ABW) is the host at Langley AFB. Beginning in late January 2010, the 633 ABW will serve as the support unit for Joint Base Langley-Eustis, the realignment consolidation of Langley AFB and Fort Eustis as directed by BRAC 2005.

Originally designated the 633d Combat Support Group, the 633d Air Base Wing was established and activated Mar. 14, 1966 and organized April 8, 1966. It was originally assigned to the 13th Air Force as part of Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) at Pleiku Air Base 62, South Vietnam, and later at Andersen AFB, Guam. During the Vietnam War, Airmen of the 633 ABW participated in numerous campaigns, air offensives and Operations Arc Light, Bullet Shot and Linebacker.

On Oct. 1, 1989, the Wing aligned under the 13th AF, activated on Andersen AFB and became the host unit, providing services for various tenant units. This marked the transfer of Andersen AFB control from Strategic Air Command to PACAF.

In August 1990, 633 ABW personnel began shipping more than 37,000 tons of munitions to forces in the Persian Gulf during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm - more than 30,000 tons went by sealift, and more than 2,200 troops and 2,200 tons of cargo processed aboard 200 aircraft. Operation Fiery Vigil spun into action June 1991, when 633 ABW personnel cared for more than 20,000 American evacuees and 1,100 pets following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, Philippines.

On Oct. 1, 1994, the 633 ABW was inactivated and the 36th ABW was activated in keeping with the policy of the Air Force Chief of Staff to maintain the most highly decorated and longest-serving Air Force units on active-duty.

On Jan. 7, 2010, the 9th Air Force reactivated the 633 ABW and declared it to be the host unit for Langley AFB, Va.[5]

1st Fighter Wing

The 1st Fighter Wing, under various designations, was the host unit at Langley from June 30, 1975 until Jan. 7, 2010, when it was relieved of host unit duties by the newly re-activated 633d Air Base Wing. Fighter squadrons of the 1st Fighter Wing's Operations Group are:

1st Fighter Wing F-22As and F-15Cs are all tail coded "FF".

The 1st Tactical Fighter Wing (1 TFW) was the first operational unit in the Tactical Air Command (TAC) to fly the F-15A/B Eagle. In May 2005, Langley became the home of 26 F-22 Raptors assigned to the 27th Fighter Squadron of the 1st Fighter Wing. In December 2005, the 94th Fighter Squadron started to convert to the F-22A . The 27th FS flew the first F-22A operational mission in January 2006 in support of Operation Noble Eagle (ONE).

On Aug. 7, 1990, the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing, deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield, was the first USAF unit to establish air superiority over Saudi Arabia. Throughout both Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the wing flew more than 6,200 sorties and nearly 25,000 flying hours. The wing also recorded an aerial victory when Capt. Steve Tate of the 71 FS shot down an Iraqi Dassault Mirage F1.

From the end of Operation Desert Storm until the commencment of Operation Iraqi Freedom, squadrons of the 1 FW routinely deployed to Turkey in support of Operation Northern Watch, or to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Southern Watch, enforcing the northern and southern "no-fly" zones over Iraq. In 2003, the 1 FW deployed again to Southwest Asia in order to provide air superiority during actual combat operations. Deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the wing flew more than 360 training and combat sorties.

Other historical firsts for the 1st Fighter Wing are:

  • The first U.S. group-level unit to enter air combat.
  • The first U.S. unit to destroy enemy aircraft in World War I.
  • The parent unit of the first recipient of the Medal of Honor for aerial combat.
  • The parent unit of the two highest scoring U.S. aces in World War I.
  • The first fighter unit to deploy en masse over the North Atlantic.
  • The first U.S. unit to destroy a German aircraft in World War II.
  • The first U.S. jet fighter unit.

480th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing

At Langley, the 480th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing is the Air Force lead wing for Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) operations, geospatial intelligence and intelligence products for combat mission planning and execution. The 497th Intelligence Group is a warfighting unit leveraging the most robust national/DoD intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance air, space and ground systems architecture. The 497 IG also operates Deployable Ground Station-1 of the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System, projecting global vigilance and providing persistent world-class timely and tailored multi-discipline intelligence analysis to the warfighter while directing reachback/distributed operations.

192D Fighter Wing

The 192D Fighter Wing is a Virginia Air National Guard unit co-located with the active duty 1st Fighter Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. The 192D FW has a dual mission -- federally, the mission is to maintain a well-trained, well-equipped unit to be available for prompt mobilization during war and provide assistance during national emergencies (such as natural disasters or civil disturbances). Under the state mission, the 192D FW provides protection of life, property and preserves peace, order and public safety. These missions are accomplished through emergency relief support during natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes and forest fires; search and rescue operations; support to civil defense authorities; maintenance of vital public services and counterdrug operations.




Air Power

Langley Air Force Base is the first military base built in the United States specifically for air power, having been acquired by the fledgling Aviation Section of the U.S. Army Signal Corps in December 1916. Major base operating units at Langley have been:

Pre World War II

Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps

  • HQ Langley Fld, inception - June 1917
  • 119th Aero Squadron, 2 July 1917

Air Service (1920-1926); United States Army Air Corps (1926-1941)

  • 2nd Bombardment Group, 1 July 1922 - 29 October 1942
  • Air Corps Technical School (Unknown Element) 26 May 1919 - 30 September 1921
  • Air Corps Tactical School - 1 November 1920 - 15 July 1931
  • Air Park Company #3, 1 October 1921
  • 58th Service Squadron, January 1923

General Headquarters (GHQ), Air Force

  • Station Complement Langley Fld, 1 March 1935
  • Base HQ and 1st Air Base Squadron, 1 September 1936
  • First Air Base Gp (Reinf) 1 September 1940

World War II

First Air Force

  • First Air Base Gp, 25 November 1941
  • First Service Gp, 13 June 1942
  • 111th AAF Base Unit, 10 April 1944

AAF Training Command

  • 3539th AAF Base Unit, 10 September 1944
  • 76th AAF Base Unit, 1 December 1945

Air Transport Command

  • 304th AAF Base Unit, 30 April 1946

AAF Antisubmarine Command

This B-52G is on display at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia Photo by William J. Grimes.
B-1B on display during an Air Show in 2007

United States Air Force

Tactical Air Command

Continental Air Command

Tactical Air Command

  • 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, 1 September 1950
    • 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (RB-26)
  • 47th Bombardment Wing, 12 March 1951 (B-26, B-45)
  • 4430th Air Base Wing, 12 February 1952
  • 405th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 1 May 1953 (B-26, B/RB-57, F-100)
  • 4505th Air Refueling Wing, 15 January 1958 (KB-29, KB-50)
  • 463rd Troop Carrier Wing, 1 July 1963 (C-130)
  • 316th Tactical Airlift Wing, 1 January 1966 (C-130)

Military Airlift Command

  • 316th Tactical Airlift Wing 1975 (C-130)

Tactical Air Command, and later Air Combat Command

  • 1st Fighter Wing, 15 April 1977 - Current (F-15A/B/C/D, F-22A)
  • 633d Air Base Wing, 7 January 2010 - Current (Installation support)

Headquarters, Tactical Air Command (TAC) was established at Langley on 1 May 1946. Headquarters, Air Combat Command (ACC) replaced Tactical Air Command when TAC inactivated on 1 June 1992.

Wind Tunnel

The wind tunnel at Langley is located on the banks of the Little Back River and measures 434 feet by 222 feet. It opened in 1931, and was the first in the United states to be able to test whole airplanes within it. The first aircraft its engineers tested was the US Navy's Vought O3U-1 Corsair. The facility went on to test many other airplanes over the course of 78 years. [6] The Langley wind tunnel, which uses two 4,000 horsepower engines to turn two propellers to create air flow, is now considered obsolete, however. The last aircraft to be tested there is the Boeing X-48C; NASA has leased the facility to Old Dominion University in the short term but plans to raze it and replace it with a parking lot. Other proposals, such as a museum, have been considered and rejected for a number of reasons; the base is a secure facility for one, and for another, Hurricane Isabel caused significant damage, precluding the docking of boats at the building.


In 1916, the National Advisory Council for Aeronautics (NACA), predecessor to NASA, established the need for a joint airfield and proving ground for Army, Navy and NACA aircraft. NACA determined that the site must be near water for over-water flying, be flat and relatively clear for expansion and the landing and take-off of aircraft and near an Army post. Fifteen locations were scouted before the site near Hampton was selected. In 1917, the new proving ground was designated Langley Field.

Several buildings had been constructed on the field by late 1918. Aircraft at the base at that time included the JN-4 Curtis Jenny, used by Langley's School of Aerial Photography, and the de Havilland DH-4 bomber, both used during World War I. Although short-lived, hydrogen-filled dirigibles played an important role in Langley's early history and a portion of the base is still referred to as the LTA (lighter-than-air) area.

Brigadier General Billy Mitchell led bombing runs from Langley over war prize German warships anchored off the coast of Virginia. These first successful tests set the precedent for the airplane's new role of strategic bombardment.

At the outbreak of World War II, Langley began to develop special detector equipment used in antisubmarine warfare.

On May 25, 1946 the headquarters of the newly formed Tactical Air Command were established at Langley. The arrival of Tactical Air Command and jet aircraft marked the beginning of a new era in the history of the field, and in January 1948 Langley Field officially became Langley Air Force Base.

On June 1, 1992, Langley became the headquarters of the newly formed Air Combat Command.

F-22 Raptor Demo Team

In addition to its usual complement of aircraft, Langley AFB is also home to the F-22 Raptor Demo Team. This team, who travels all over the world performing different maneuvers used in air combat, is used to help recruit for the United States Air Force. Performing in airshows and other special events all around the world, the squadron is the only demonstration team in the world to use the F-22 Raptor.

Airpower over Hampton Roads

Airpower over Hampton Roads is a recurring airshow held at Langley Air Force Base in spring. Many demonstrations take place, including the F-22 Raptor Demonstration, Aerobatics, and parachute demos.

BRAC 2005

The BRAC 2005 commission recommended an expansion of Langley Air Force Base.

  • BRAC 2005 recommended the closure of Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (ARS), N.Y. The Air Force Reserve Command's 914th Airlift Wing's headquarters would then move to Langley AFB as a result of this closure. This recommendation was later reversed and as of Jan 2008, the Niagara Falls ARS will remain open as home to the 914 AW and the 107th Air Refueling Wing (107 ARW) of the New York Air National Guard. Commencing in mid-2008, the 107th will change its mission to that of an airlift wing and transition from the KC-135 to the C-130H, sharing aircraft with the 914 AW.
  • A realignment of base-level F-15 avionics intermediate maintenance from Langley AFB to Tyndall AFB, Fla., by establishing a Centralized Intermediate Repair Facility (CIRF) at Tyndall AFB for F-15 avionics.
  • DoD would establish a Combat Air Force Logistics Support Center at Langley Air Force Base by realigning Regional Supply Squadrons positions from Hickam Air Force Base and Sembach Air Base, Germany (non-BRAC programmatic) as well as base-level Logistics Readiness Squadron (LRS) positions from Luke Air Force Base.

In popular culture

  • The base is the site of an early battle in both GDI and Nod Campaigns in Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars.

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
  • Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
  1. ^ Langley Air Force Base, official site
  2. ^ a b FAA Airport Master Record for LFI (Form 5010 PDF), effective 2008-06-05
  3. ^
  4. ^ World War I Group, Historical Division, Special Staff, United States Army, Order of Battle of the United States Land Forces in the World War (1917–1919)
  5. ^
  6. ^ Historic Wind Tunnel's Fans Won't Stay Silent, Wall Street Journal, August 26, 2009, p.A6
  • Endicott, Judy G., USAF Active Flying, Space, and Missile Squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Office of Air Force History
  • Maurer Maurer, Air Force Combat Units Of World War II, Office of Air Force History, 1983
  • Ravenstein, Charles A., Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977, Office of Air Force History, 1984
  • Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982 USAF Reference Series, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C., 1989

External links


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