Ninth Air Force: Wikis

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Ninth Air Force (United States Air Forces Central)
9th Air Force.png
Ninth Air Force Emblem
Usafcent-emblem.jpg
United States Air Forces Central emblem
Active 1942
Country United States of America
Branch United States Army Air Forces (1942–1945, 1946–1947)
United States Air Force (1947–Present)
Part of Air Combat Command
United States Air Forces Central
Garrison/HQ Shaw Air Force Base
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Lewis H. Brereton
Hoyt Vandenberg
F-22A Raptor of the 1st Fighter Wing, Langley AFB, Virginia
20th FW F-16s deployed to USAFCENT
23d Fighter Group A-10 over the Middle East
KC-135 Stratotanker at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan

The Ninth Air Force (United States Air Forces Central) (9 AF - USAFCENT) is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Air Combat Command (ACC). It is headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

The primary mission of 9 AF is to project decisive air and space power for United States Central Command and America. As such, 9 AF also serves as headquarters for the United States Air Forces Central (USAFCENT) component of the United States Central Command, a regional unified command. USAFCENT is responsible for air operations (either unilaterally or in concert with coalition partners and developing contingency plans in support of national objectives for USCENTCOM's 20-nation area of responsibility in Southwest Asia.

Established on 11 September 1941 as 5th Air Support Command at Bowman Field, Kentucky, it was redesignated as Ninth Air Force on 8 April 1942. 9 AF was a United States Army Air Forces combat air force deployed to the European Theater of World War II, engaging in operations initially in the Western Desert Campaign in North Africa. Reassigned to England in 1943, 9 AF engaged in operations in the Northern Europe AOR, carrying out tactical bombing of enemy targets in France, the Low countries and Germany in support of Allied ground forces and engaging in air to air fighter combat against enemy aircraft until the German Capitulation in May 1945.

During the Cold War, 9 AF was one the Numbered Air Forces of the United States Air Force Tactical Air Command (TAC), Its units engaged in combat operations during the Korean War; Vietnam War, as well as Operation Desert Storm.

9 AF is commanded by Maj. Gen. William L. Holland. Its Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant Mark J. Villella.

Contents

Overview

The command is responsible for six active duty flying wings. 9 AF is also responsible for overseeing the operational readiness of 30 designated units of the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. In addition, United States Air Forces Central controls ten Air Expeditionary wings in Central and Southwest Asia engaged in combat operations as part of the Global War on Terrorism.

Units

Major units of Ninth Air Force are:

Flying Wings

Non-flying units

USAFCENT Expeditionary Units

History

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Lineage

  • Established as 5th Air Support Command on 21 August 1941
Activated on 1 September 1941
Redesignated 9th Air Force on 8 April 1942
Redesignated as Ninth Air Force on 18 September 1942
Inactivated on 2 December 1945
  • Activated on 28 March 1946
Redesignated: Ninth Air Force (Tactical) on 1 August 1950
Redesignated: Ninth Air Force on 26 June 1951
Redesignated: Ninth Air Force (Air Forces Central), on 1 March 2008.

Assignments

  • Air Force Combat Command (later, Army Air Forces), 1 September 1941
  • United States Army Forces in the Middle East, 12 November 1942
  • European Theater of Operations, United States Army, 3 November 1943
  • United States Strategic Air Forces in Europe
(later, United States Air Forces in Europe), 22 February 1944 – 2 December 1945

Stations

Major Components

Commands

  • IX Air Defense: 1 July 1944 – 28 November 1945
  • IX Air Support (later, IX Tactical Air): 4 December 1943 – 17 August 1945
  • IX Engineer: 1 July 1944 – 2 December 1945
  • IX Fighter: 23 December 1942 – 16 November 1945
  • IX Troop Carrier: 16 October 1943 – 25 1944
  • XIX Air Support (later, XIX Tactical Air): 4 January 1944 – X 1945
  • XXIX Air Support (later, XXIX Tactical Air): 1 July – 3 October 1945

Divisions

(formerly, 19 Bombardment Wing; IX Bomber Command; 9 Bombardment Division; 9 Air Division; 19 Bombardment Wing)
24 July 1942 – 20 November 1945; 22 December 1948 – 1 February 1949. 21 Air: 22 December 1948 – 1 February 1949.

World War II

During World War II, the offensive air forces of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) came to be classified as strategic or tactical. A strategic air force was that with a mission to attack an enemy's war effort beyond his front-line forces; predominantly production and supply facilities, whereas a tactical air force supported ground campaigns, usually with objectives selected through co-operation with the armies.

In Europe, Eighth Air Force was the first USAAF strategic air force, with a mission to support an invasion of continental Europe from the British Isles. Originally equipped with tactical units, some of these units were transferred to the Twelfth Air Force which was formed in the United Kingdom in the fall of 1942. Twelfth Air Force was created to provide tactical air support for the invasion of North Africa later that year.

Origins - 1942

USAAF Air Forces in the European-African-Middle Eastern Theater - 1942
B-24 Liberator of the 376th Bomb Group taking off from a Libyan base - 1943

On June 1942, the German Afrika Korps advance in North Africa forced British Eighth Army to retreat towards Egypt putting British Middle East Command at risk. The United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) had already planned for a buildup of American air power in the Middle East in January 1942 in response to a request from the British Chief of the Air Staff, but the first units arrived unexpectedly on 12 Jun 1942 as Col. Harry A. Halverson, commanding twenty-three B-24D Liberator heavy bombers and a hand-picked crews (a group called HALPRO – Halverson Project), decided to move to Egypt. They had initially been assigned to the China Burma India Theater to attack Japan from airfields in China, but after the fall of Rangoon the Burma Road was cut so the detachment could not be logistically supported in China. HALPRO was quickly diverted from its original mission to a new one: interdictory raids from airfields in Egypt against shipping and North African ports supporting Axis operations.[1]

On 28 Jun 1942, Major General Lewis H Brereton arrived at Cairo to command the U.S. Army Middle East Air Force (USAMEAF), which was activated immediately. USAMEAF comprised the Halverson Detachment (HALPRO), Brereton's detachment [9th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) and other personnel which Brereton brought from India], and the Air Section of US Military North African Mission. Several USAAF units were sent to join USAMEAF during next weeks working along with RAF commands in the destruction of Rommel's Afrika Korps by support to ground troops and secure sea and air communications on and over the Mediterranean. On 1 November 1942, General Bernard Montgomery launched an attack on the Afrika Korps at Kidney Ridge. After initially resisting the attack, Field Marshall Erwin Rommel decided he no longer had the resources to hold his line and on the 3 November he ordered his troops to withdraw. Allied victory in the Second Battle of Alamein was accomplished and USAMEAF units played a significant part on it.

On 12 November 1942, the US Army Middle East Air Force was dissolved and replaced by HQ Ninth Air Force, commanded by Lieutenant General Lewis H. Brereton. At that time, the Ninth Air Force consisted of:[2]

  • IX Bomber Command (Brigadier General Patrick W Timberlake) at Ismailia, Egypt,
  • IX Fighter Command (Colonel John C Kilborn) enroute to Egypt,
  • IX Air Service Command (Brigadier General Elmer E Adler).

Activation of Ninth Air Force

Ninth Air Force was first constituted as V Air Support Command at Bowman Field, Kentucky on 11 September 1941. It was redesignated as Ninth Air Foce in April 1942 and was reassigned to Bolling Field, Washington, D.C. on 22 July and was transferred, without personnel or equipment to Cairo, Egypt on 12 November. The Ninth Air Force mission comprised: (1) Gain air superiority; (2) Deny the enemy the ability to replenish or replace losses, and (3) Offer ground forces close support in North-East Africa.

Operations in Western Desert Campaign, 1942–1943

By the end of 1942 a total of 370 aircraft had been ferried to the Ninth Air Force. While the great majority were P-40's (see below), B-24's (The original Halverson Detachment (HALPRO), 98th Bombardment Group, 376th Bombardment Group, and RAF units), and B-25's (12th and 340th Bombardment Groups), there were also more than 50 twin-engine transports (316th Troop Carrier Group), which made it possible to build an effective local air transport service. Ninth Air Force P-40F fighters (57th, 79th, and 324th Fighter Groups) supported the British Eighth Army's drive across Egypt and Libya, escorting bombers and flying strafing and dive-bombing missions against airfields, communications, and troop concentrations. Other targets attacked were shipping and harbor installations in Libya, Tunisia, Sicily, Italy, Crete, and Greece to cut enemy supply lines to Africa. The Palm Sunday Massacre was one noteworthy mission by the P-40 and Spitfire groups.[3]

The Allied air forces in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) were reorganized into the Mediterranean Air Command (MAC) effective 18 February 1943 following the Casablanca Conference in January. Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Tedder was named Air Commander-in-Chief of MAC which consisted of three primary sub-commands:

For NAAF and RAFME operations, Tedder was responsible to General Dwight D. Eisenhower and the British Chiefs of Staff, respectively. Because Ninth Air Force was a subordinate command of RAFME in the reorganization, the chain of command was: British Chiefs of Staff - Tedder (MAC) - Sholto Douglas (RAFME) - Brereton (Ninth Air Force). Additionally, the Ninth's 57th, 79th, and 324th Fighter Groups and its 12th and 340th Bombardment Groups were transferred to the operational control of the Northwest African Tactical Air Force (NATAF) under the command of Air Vice-Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham. The Ninth's 316th Troop Carrier Group flew its missions with the Northwest African Troop Carrier Command (NATCC).

The command of its own groups was a concern of Ninth Air Force even before the creation of MAC. In September 1942, RAF Middle East Command's Senior Air Staff Officer, Air Commodore[4] H. E. P. Wigglesworth was authorized by Tedder to select targets for all U. S. heavy bombers.

"A development of some importance in the career of USAMEAF manifested itself

administratively on 12 October (1942) when orders were cut assigning nine officers to the IX Bomber Command, which organization was then and for a month afterwards unofficial. This command had its roots in a discussion on 5 September between Tedder's senior air staff officer, Air Vice Marshal H. E. P. Wigglesworth, and G-3 officers of USAMEAF, during which Wigglesworth asserted that he had control, delegated by Tedder, over the target selection for the U.S. heavy bombers. Col. Patrick W. Timberlake, G-3 of Brereton's staff, took a serious view of this assertion in that it violated the Arnold-Portal-Towers agreement that American combat units assigned to theaters of British strategic responsibility were to be organized in "homogeneous American formations" under the "strategic control" of the appropriate British commander in chief. In a memo of 7 September, Timberlake granted that this canon might be justifiably violated in the case of the 12th Bombardment (M) and 57th Fighter Groups, but he could see no reason why operational control of the 1st Provisional and 98th Groups, comprising four-fifths of the heavy bomber force in the Middle East, should not be vested in American hands. Subsequent negotiations carried the point with the British, who even turned over their 160 Squadron (Liberators) to the operational control of IX Bomber Command. On 12 October a small staff moved into Grey Pillars, RAF headquarters at Cairo, and thenceforth USAMEAF's bombers operated only under the "strategic" direction of the British. Timberlake headed the organization, with Kalberer as his A-3 and Lt. Col. Donald M. Keiser as his chief of staff."

__ , The Army Air Forces in World War II[5]

In February of 1943, after the Afrika Korps had been driven into Tunisia, the Germans took the offensive and pushed through the Kasserine Pass before being stopped with the help of both Ninth and Twelfth Air Force units in the battle. The Allies drove the enemy back into a pocket around Bizerte and Tunis, where Axis forces surrendered in May. Thus, Tunisia became available for launching attacks on Pantelleria (Operation Corkscrew), Sicily (Operation Husky), and mainland Italy.

At the time of the invasion of Sicily on 10 July 1943, Ninth Air Force Headquarters was still based at Cairo, Egypt and Headquarters for Ninth Fighter Command and IX Bomber Command were stationed at Tripoli and Benghazi, Libya, respectively. During this critical period of World War II when the Allied forces finally left North Africa for Europe, the groups of the Ninth Air Force consisted of:[6]

  • 12th Bombardment Group at Sfax el Mau, Tunisia with B-25 Mitchells (81st, 82nd, 83rd, & 434th Bombardment Squadrons)
  • 340th Bombardment Group at Sfax South, Tunisia with B-25 Mitchells (486th, 487th, 488th, & 489th Bombardment Squadrons)
  • 57th Fighter Group at Hani Main, Tunisia with P-40F Warhawks (64th, 65th, & 66th Fighter Squadrons)
  • 79th Fighter Group at Causeway Landing Ground, Tunisia with P-40F Warhawks (85th, 86th, & 87th Fighter Squadrons)
  • 324th Fighter Group with P-40F Warhawks (314th Squadron at Hani Main, 315th Squadron at Kabrit, Egypt, & 316th Squadron at Causeway).
  • 98th Bombardment Group with B-24D Liberators (343rd & 344th Squadrons at Lete, Libya; 345th & 415th Squadrons at Benina, Libya)
  • 376th Bombardment Group at Berka, Tunisia with B-24D Liberators (512th, 513th, 514th, & 515th Bombardment Squadrons)
  • 316th Troop Carrier Group at Deversoir, Egypt with C-47s, C-53s and DC3s (36th, 37th, & 44th Squadrons at Deversoir, Egypt; 45th Squadron at Castel Benito, Libya).

During most of 1943, the Ninth Air Force was officially assigned to RAF Middle East Command of the Mediterranean Air Command. However, the Ninth's 12th and 340th Bombardment Groups were assigned to the Tactical Bomber Force, the 57th and 79th Fighter Groups were assigned to the Desert Air Force, and the 324th Fighter Group was surprisingly assigned to XII Air Support Command. Tactical Bomber Force under Air Commodore Laurence Sinclair, Desert Air Force under Air Vice Marshal Harry Broadhurst, and XII Air Support Command under Major General Edwin House were sub-commands of the Northwest African Tactical Air Force (NATAF) under Air Marshal Sir Arthur Coningham. NATAF was one of the three major sub-commands of the Northwest African Air Forces (NAAF) under Lieutenant General Carl Spaatz. NATAF, Northwest African Strategic Air Force (NASAF) and Northwest African Coastal Air Force (NACAF), formed the classic tri-force, the basis for the creation of NAAF in February of 1943.

Ninth Air Force groups attacked airfields and rail facilities in Sicily and took part in Operation Husky, carried paratroopers, and flew reinforcements to ground units on the island. The heavy bombardment groups (B-24s) of the Ninth also participated in the low-level assault of the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania on 1 August 1943.

On 22 August 1943 the following groups were transferred from the Ninth Air Force to the Twelfth Air Force:

  • 12th Bombardment Group (Medium) at Gerbini, Sicily with B-25s
  • 57th Fighter Group on Sicily with P-40s
  • 79th Fighter Group on Sicily with P-40s
  • 324th Fighter Group at El Haouaria, Tunisia with P-40s and
  • 340th Bombardment Group (Medium) at Comiso, Sicily with B-25s

The 316th Troop Carrier Group was operating under Northwest African Troop Carrier Command with C-47 Dakotas and CG4A Waco Gliders.

The Ninth's heavy bombardment squadrons (B-24s) returned to England to be included into a reorganized Ninth Air Force again.

Transfer to the United Kingdom

P-51B of the 354th Fighter Group at RAF Boxted, prior to the invasion of Europe - fall 1943
B-26 of the 322d Medium Bomb Group at RAF Andrews Field, on the perimeter track prior to takeoff

In September 1943, HQ Army Air Forces decided to transfer Lieutenant General Lewis H Brereton and his HQ staff from Africa to the United Kingdom to reform the Ninth Air Force in the European Theater of Operations by absorbing the VIII Air Support Command.[7] HQ Ninth Air Force is established at Sunninghill on 16 October. On 6 November, HQ IX Bomber Command[8] arrives at Marks Hall, England from Bengasi, Libya[9] to participate along Eighth Air Force in stategic bombing over Western Europe.

But the main mission of Ninth Air Force in England will be the tactical support of ground units as part of the Operation Overlord- the invasion of Europe, thus IX Troop Carrier Command is activated at Cottesmore with Brigadier General Benjamin F Giles as Commanding General also incorporating troop carrier units from the Eighth Air Force. The IX Air Service Command is re-formed under Major General Henry J Miller as well.[10] On 1 Nov 1943 Ninth Air Force comes under operational control of the Allied Expeditionary Air Force (AEAF) which is activated on this date to provide the tactical air force for the invasion.

The nucleus of the Ninth Air Force in England was formed by different units designated as follows[10]:

Ninth Air Force 1943 - Jun 1944

During the winter of 1943–44 Ninth Air Force expanded at an extraordinary rate so that by the end of May, its complement ran to 45 flying groups operating some 5,000 aircraft. With the necessary ground support units, the total number of personnel assigned to Ninth Air Force would be more than 200,000 - greater than that of Eighth Air Force. HQ Ninth Air Force extends IX Bomber Command's choice of targets considerably, although first priority for Operation POINTBLANK missions [the Combined Bomber Offensive (CBO) of US and RAF air forces against the Luftwaffe and German aircraft industry] and next priority for Operation CROSSBOW (code name for operations against German V-weapon sites) targets is maintained[1]. Along with the Eighth Air Force, the Ninth had to smash the German Luftwaffe in the air and on the ground to bring about complete air supremacy prior to D-Day. Operational missions involved attacks on rail marshaling yards, railroads, airfields, industrial plants, military installations, and other enemy targets in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Other targets were German Atlantic Wall defenses along the English Channel coast of France.

On 4 Jan 1944 XIX Air Support Command is activated at Middle Wallop to support Patton´s Third Army in Europe.[11] On Feb 44 Ninth Air Force underwent a big reorganization and several troop carrier groups relocated headquarters. Major General Otto P Weyland becomes Commanding General of XIX Air Support Command, replacing Major General Elwood R Quesada. The latter assumes command of the IX Air Support Command which takes control of all fighter and reconnaissance units of the IX Fighter Command. HQ IX Air Support Command change from Aldermaston Court to Middle Wallop. Major General Paul L Williams who had commanded the troop carrier operations in Sicily and Italy becomes Commanding General IX Troop Carrier Command (IX TTC).[12] HQ Ninth Air Force is renamed as HQ UNITED STATES STRATEGIC AIR FORCES IN EUROPE.

The IX TCC command and staff officers were an excellent mix of combat veterans from those earlier assaults, and a few key officers were held over for continuity. The groups assigned were a mixture of experience, but training would be needed to confront the expected massive movements of troops of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. By the end of May 1944, the IX TCC had available 1,207 C-47 Skytrain troop carrier airplanes and was one-third overstrength, creating a strong reserve. Three quarters of the planes were less than one year old on D-Day, and all were in excellent condition. Glidders were incorporated, Over 2,100 CG-4 Waco gliders had been sent to the UK, and after attrition during training operations, 1,118 were available for operations, along with 301 Airspeed Horsa gliders received from the British. In 30 Mar 44, is activated IX Engineer Command with Brigadier General James B. Newman as commanding general. In 18 April 44, XIX Air Support Command is redesignated XIX Tactical Air Command and becomes operational. IX Air Suppot Command is redesignated IX Tactical Air Command. This table shows the 1 June 1944 Order of Battle for the Ninth Air Force in the United Kingdom, prior to the deployment of units to the Continent.[13]

  • IX Bomber Command
    • 97th Bombardment Wing (Light)
    • 99th Bombardment Wing (Medium)
    • 98th Bombardment Wing (Medium)
  • IX Troop Carrier Command
    • 50th Troop Carrier Wing
    • 52nd Troop Carrier Wing (C-47/C-53/C-46)
    • 53rd Troop Carrier Wing
    • IX Troop Carrier Pathfinder Group (Provisional)
  • IX Air Service Command - responsible for providing ground support to the flying groups. This included aircraft maintenance.
  • IX Engineer Command

Operations in Europe 1944–1945

P-38 of the 370th Fighter Group on a wartime advanced landing strip
P-47D of the 406th Fighter Group on a wartime advanced landing strip
C-47s with Gliders of the 62d Troop Carrier Group preparing for the Airborne drop over the Rhine during "Operation Varsity.

On D-Day IX Troop Carrier Command units flew over 2000 sorties conducting combat parachute jumps and glider landings as part of Operation Neptune. Other Ninth Air Force units carried out massive air attacks with P-51 Mustang and P-47 Thunderbolt fighter-bombers and B-25 Mitchell and B-26 Marauder medium bombers. Air cover during the morning amphibious assault by Allied forces on the beaches of France was flown by P-38 Lightnings.

With the beaches secure, its tactical air units then provided the air power for the Allied break-out from the Normandy beachhead in the summer of 1944 during the Battle of Cherbourg, Caen, and the ultimate breakout from the beachhead, Operation Cobra.

Unlike Eighth Air Force, whose units stayed in the United Kingdom, Ninth Air Force units were very mobile, first deploying to France on 16 June 1944, ten days after the Normandy invasion by moving P-47 Thunderbolts to a beach-head landing strip.

Because of their short range, operational combat units would have to move to quickly-prepared bases close to the front as soon as the Allied ground forces advanced. The bases were called "Advanced Landing Grounds" or "ALGs". On the continent, many ALGs were built either from scratch or from captured enemy airfields throughout France, the Low Countries and Germany. Ninth Air Force units moved frequently from one ALG to another.

By early August most Ninth Air Force operational fighter and bomber groups were transferred to bases in France and assigned to the U. S. Twelfth Army Group. These groups were then assigned to Tactical Air Command (TAC) organizations which supported Army ground units. XXIX TAC supported the Ninth Army in the north; IX TAC supported the First Army in the center; and XIX TAC supported the Third Army in the south. Air cover over Allied-controlled areas on the continent was performed by the IX Air Defense Command. Ninth Air Force groups made numerous moves within France, the Low Countries and western Germany to keep within range of the advancing battle front before the end of hostilities in May 1945.

During Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France in August 1944, two Ninth fighter groups were transferred to the provisional United States/Free French 1st Tactical Air Force supporting the invasion force's drive north. As part of Operation Market-Garden, the Ninth Air Force transferred its entire IX Troop Carrier Command with its fourteen C-47 groups to the 1st Allied Airborne Army in September 1944. Those troop carrier groups flew many of the C-47s and towed CG-4 Waco gliders for the Allied airborne unit drops - Operation Market Garden - to take the bridges northwest of Eindhoven at Son (mun. Son en Breugel), Veghel, Grave, Nijmegen and Arnhem in the Netherlands.

In December 1944 through January 1945, Ninth Air Force fighters and bombers were critical in defeating the Wehrmacht during the Battle of the Bulge. There was a noteworthy incident in which American, British, and Canadian air power was grounded by very bad winter weather, but then the bad weather broke, freeing those tactical air forces to help break the back of the Wehrmacht attack. The long smash across France, Belgium, and Luxembourg was the highlight of the existence of the 9th Air Force.

In the spring of 1945, Ninth Air Force troop carrier units flew airborne parachute and glider units again during Operation Varsity, the Allied assault over the Rhine River on 24 March 1945. Operation Varsity was the single largest airborne drop in history. The operation saw the first use of the Curtiss-Wright C-46 Commando transport in Europe, operating with the reliable C-47 Skytrain of previous airborne operations, an experiment which ended with the catastrophic loss of 28% of the C-46s participating.

Postwar demobilization

Ninth Air Force tactical air support operations were flown over western Germany until the end of hostilities on 7 May. However, once the victory had been gained, the United States plunged into demobilization, just as it had done at the end of the First World War.

Most officers and men were sent back to the United States and their units inactivated. Others were assigned to the new United States Air Forces in Europe and were moved to captured Luftwaffe airfields to perform occupation duties. Some transport units relocated to France. Finally, with the mission completed, on 2 December 1945 the Ninth Air Force was inactivated at USAFE Headquarters at Wiesbaden Germany.

Cold War

North American F-100F-10-NA Super Sabre serial 56-3869 of the 354th TFW, Myrtle Beach AFB South Carolina. F-100s were a mainstay of USAF tactical air power throughout the 1950s and 1960s.
A-7D Serial No: 71-0338 of the 23d TFW, England AFB, Louisiana. The A-7D provided close air support for Army ground forces from the late 1960s until being replaced by the A-10 in the 1980s in front-line units.
F-4E Serial No: 68-0326 of the 31st TFW - Homestad AFB, Florida - 1971. F-4 Phantom IIs were the dominant aircraft over the skies of Indochina during the Vietnam War.
F-15E Strike Eagle Serial No: 88-1690 of the 4th TFW - Seymour Johnson AFB, NC. Developed from the F-15B in the late 1980s, the Strike Eagle gave the F-15 a close air support mission while retaining the air superiority role.
F-16A Serial No: 80-537 of the 363d/20th TFW - Shaw AFB, SC. The F-16 is the most-produced tactical jet fighter in Air Force history.
Two F-22A turn in on final approach to Langley Air Force Base

Following World War II, Ninth Air Force was reactivated on 28 March 1946 at Biggs AAF, Texas. After several relocations, on 20 August 1954, Ninth Air Force Headquarters was assigned to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, where it remains today. The postwar Numbered Air Forces were components of the new major command structure of the United States Air Force, and Ninth Air Force became one of the tactical air forces of the new Tactical Air Command. Ninth Air Force commanded TAC Wings east of the Mississippi River.

Initially being equipped with propeller-driven F-51, F-47 and F-82 aircraft during the postwar years, in the 1950s, Ninth Air Force units received the jet-powered F/RF-80 Shooting Star, F-84G/F Thunderjet, F-86D/H Sabre, and F-100 Super Sabre aircraft. Ninth Air Force squadrons and wings were frequently deployed to NATO during the 1950s and 1960s as "Dual-Based" USAFE units, and reinforcing NATO forces in West Germany and France during the Lebanon crisis of 1958 and the 1961 Berlin Wall Crisis.

During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Ninth Air Force units went on war alert, deploying to bases in Florida, being able to respond to the crisis on a moments notice.

During the Vietnam War, detached Ninth Air Force units engaged in combat operations over Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The practice of stripping away squadrons and aircraft from their home Tactical Air Command Wings and attaching them indefinitely to a new wing under Pacific Air Forces was the method used for long-term deployments to the South Vietnam and Thailand air bases engaged in combat operations. In addition to these operational deployments, Ninth Air Force units performed a "backfilling" role in Japan and South Korea for PACAF as well as in Italy and Spain for USAFE to replace units whose aircraft and personnel were deployed to Southeast Asia. With the end of American involvement during the early 1970s, these units were returned in large part to their home Ninth Air Force units in the United States.

During the remainder of the 1970s, NATO deployments resumed supporting the COMET, CORONET and CRESTED CAP exercises. These deployments were designed to exercise CONUS based Air Force squadrons long range deployment capabilities and to familiarize the personnel with the European theatre of operations. During these NATO deployments, exercises with Army infantry and armored units were conducted to enhance the Close Air Support role in Europe.

Ninth Air Force Wings in 1979 were:

During the 1980s, Ninth Air Force wings upgraded from the Vietnam-Era F-4s and A-7s to newer F-15s, F-16 and A-10 aircraft. First-generation F-15A/B models were sent to Air National Guard units, being upgraded to the higher-capability F-15C/Ds and the new F-15E with the 4th TFW.

In 1980, Ninth Air Force units was allocated to President Jimmy Carter's Rapid Deployment Force, formally known as the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF). In 1983 the RDJTF became a separate unified command known as the United States Central Command (CENTCOM), focusing on the Middle East. Ninth Air Force provided the aircraft, personnel and materiel to form United States Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF), the air power of CENTCOM, which is also headquartered at Shaw. Starting in 1981, Ninth Air Force aircraft and personnel were deployed to Egypt for BRIGHT STAR exercises.

During Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, Ninth Air Force units deployed to the Middle East flew combat missions over Kuwait and Iraq. After the end of hostilities, units from the Ninth flew air missions over Iraq as part of Operation Deny Flight, Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch. Combat missions briefly resumed in 1998 during Operation Desert Fox.

With the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the 1991 Base Realignment and Closure Commission reductions meant the closing of Myrtle Beach and England AFB. MacDill AFB was realigned to be the headquarters of United States Central Command with tactical aircraft operations ended.

The restructuring of USAF CONUS forces by the deactivation of Tactical Air Command and subsequent creation of Air Combat Command realigned Ninth Air Force with new units and new missions. In addition, the effects of Hurricane Andrew at Homestead AFB on 24 August 1992 essentially destroyed the facility. Although both President George H. W. Bush and President Clinton promised to rebuild Homestead, the BRAC designated the installation for realignment to the Air Force Reserve, and on 1 April 1994, Headquarters, ACC inactivated its base support units, effectively ending ACC ownership of the base.

Middle East, Central Asia Operations

Ninth Air Force units, flying as USCENTAF, flew operational missions during the 2002 Operation Enduring Freedom - Afghanistan (OEF-A) and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The task of developing a comprehensive listing of Ninth Air Force/USCENTAF units present in the area is particularly difficult as the 11 September 2001 attacks and the War on Terrorism have made such an effort significantly difficult. The USAF seeks to improve operational security (OPSEC) and to deceive potential enemies as to the extent of American operations, therefore a listing of which units deploying where and when is unavailable.

However, it is certain that CENTAF units are actively flying missions currently engaged in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

References

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

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0912799129.

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "http://www.centaf.af.mil".

Notes

  1. ^ 376hbgva.com
  2. ^ USAAF.net
  3. ^ Warwingsart.com
  4. ^ Temporary Air Vice Marshal from December 1942
  5. ^ The Army Air Forces in World War II, Vol. 2, Torch to Point Blank, Chapter 1, Crisis in the Middle East, page 33. Chicago, IL, Chicago University Press, 1949
  6. ^ Secret Document 151, Location of Units in the Royal Air Force, 34th Issue, July 1943, The Royal Air Force Museum, Accession Number PR02859
  7. ^ www.usaaf.net/chron/43/sep43.htm
  8. ^ Airwarweb.net
  9. ^ USAAF.net
  10. ^ a b USAAF.net
  11. ^ Airwarweb.net
  12. ^ USAAF.net
  13. ^ Publicenquiry.co.uk

Bibliography

  • Bozung, Jack H. (ed). The 9th Sees France and England. Los Angeles, California: AAF Publications Company, 1947.
  • Coles, Harry C. Ninth Air Force Participation in the Western Desert Campaign to January 1943 (USAAF Historical Study, No. 30). Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1945.
  • Coles, Harry C. Participation of the Ninth and Twelfth Air Forces in the Sicilian Campaign (USAAF Historical Study, No. 37). Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1945.
  • Craven, Wesley F. and James L. Cate. The Army Air Forces in World war II, Vols. 1-7. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago University Press, 1948/51 (Reprinted 1983, ISBN 0-912799-03-X).
  • Dorr, Robert F. and Thomas D. Jones. Hell Hawks: The Untold Story of American Fliers Who Savaged Hitler's Wehrmacht. St Paul: Zenith Press, 2008. ISBN 978-0-7603-2918.
  • Endicott, Judy G. USAF Active Flying, Space, and Missile Squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History, 1999.
  • Fletcher, Harry R. Air Force Bases: Volume II, Air Bases Outside the United States of America. Office of Air Force History, 1989. ISBN 0-160022-61-4.
  • Freeman, Roger A. The Ninth Air Force in Colour. UK and the Continent-World War II. London: Arms and Armor Press, 1995.
  • Freeman, Roger A. UK Airfields of the Ninth, Then and Now. London: Battle of Britain Publications, 1994.
  • George, Robert H. Ninth Air Force, April to November 1944 (USAAF Historical Study, No. 36). Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1945.
  • Hamlin, John F. Support and Strike!: A Concise History of the U.S. Ninth Air Force in Europe. Bretton, Peterborough, UK: GMS Enterprises, 1991. ISBN 1-870384-10-5.
  • Marx, Milton. Ninth Air Force, USAAF. Paris, France: Desfosses-Neogravure, 1945. LCCN 49028944. Dewey 940.541273. OCLC 3784313.
  • Mueller, Robert. Air Force Bases: Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Office of Air Force History, 1989. ISBN 0-912799-53-6.
  • Ramsey, John F. Ninth Air Force in the ETO, 16 October 1943 to 16 April 1944 (USAAF Historical Study, No. 32). Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1945.
  • Rogers, Edith. The AAF in the Middle East: A Study of the Origins of the Ninth Air Force (USAAF Historical Study, No. 108). Air Force Historical Research Agency, 1945.
  • Rust, Kenn C. Ninth Air Force Story...in World War II. Temple City, California: Historical Aviation Album, 1982. ISBN 0-911852-93-X.
  • Rust, Kenn C. with George J. Letzer; James J. Grygier and Richard Groh. The 9th Air Force in World War II. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1967 (2nd revised printing in 1970). ISBN 0-8168-7025-X.

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