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Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall

Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg United States Air Forces in Europe.png

Part of United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE)
Located near Mildenhall, Suffolk, England
Royal Air Force Mildenhall
Type Air Force Base
Coordinates 52°21′54″N 000°28′51″E / 52.365°N 0.48083°E / 52.365; 0.48083
Built 1934
In use October 16, 1934 – present
Current
owner
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
Controlled by Royal Air Force
United States Air Force
Commanders Colonel Eden J. Murrie
[1]
Occupants Royal Air Force (1934–Present)
Strategic Air Command (1951–1959)
United States Air Forces In Europe (1950, 1959–Present)
Battles/wars European Theatre of World War II (RAF)
RAF Mildenhall is located in Suffolk
Map showing the location of RAF Mildenhall within Suffolk.
RAF Mildenhall
RAF Mildenhall Logo.jpg
IATA: MHZICAO: EGUN
Summary
Airport type Military
Operator United States Air Force
Location Mildenhall
Elevation AMSL 33 ft / 10 m
Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
11/29 9,221 2,811 Concrete/Asphalt
Tail of a 100 ARW Boeing KC-135R-BN Stratotanker, AF Serial No. 58-0100, displaying the crest of RAF Mildenhall and the historic "Square D" badge as used by the unit during the second world war

RAF Mildenhall (IATA: MHZICAO: EGUN) is a Royal Air Force (RAF) station located at Mildenhall in Suffolk, England. Despite its status as an RAF station, it primarily supports United States Air Force operations. It is currently the home of the 100th Air Refueling Wing (100 ARW). A United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) unit, the 100 ARW is RAF Mildenhall's "host wing," supporting some 16,000 personnel, three geographically separated units (GSUs) and 15 associated units.

Contents

Units

RAF Mildenhall hosts units from four different major USAF commands -- Air Combat Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Mobility Command and United States Air Forces in Europe; as well as units of the United States Navy. These being:

  • 501st Combat Support Wing (USAFE)
  • 352nd Special Operations Group (AFSOC)
  • 95th Reconnaissance Squadron (ACC)
    Part of 55th Wing, 55th Operations Group, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
  • 488th Intelligence Squadron (ACC)
    Part of 55th Wing, 55th Operations Group Intelligence Wing, Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska
  • 727th Air Mobility Squadron (AMC)
    Part of 721st Air Mobility Operations Group, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
  • Fleet Industrial Supply Center Mildenhall (COMUSNAVEUR)

RAF Mildenhall and its sister base RAF Lakenheath are the largest United States Air Force bases in the United Kingdom.

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100th Air Refueling Wing

The host unit at Mildenhall is the 100th Air Refueling Wing (100 ARW), which deploys aircraft for and manages the European Tanker Task Force, a rotational force which provides air refueling to US and NATO aircraft in the European Theater. It is the only permanent USAF air refueling wing in the European theater, activated at RAF Mildenhall on February 1, 1992. The wing provides the critical air refueling "bridge" that allows the Expeditionary Air Force to deploy around the globe on a moment's notice.

The tactical component of the 100 ARW is the 351st Air Refueling Squadron (351 ARS), flying the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker.

100th Logistical Readiness Squadron

501st Combat Support Wing

The 501st Combat Support Wing was activated at RAF Mildenhall on May 21, 2005. It is a non-flying unit that provides administration and operation of the various smaller Air Force units scattered across the UK that are considered Geographically Separate Units (GSU):

352d Special Operations Group

The 352 SOG is the Air Force component for Special Operations Command Europe, a sub-unified command of the US European Command. It transferred to RAF Mildenhall on February 17, 1995 from RAF Alconbury. The 352 SOG has two flying squadrons, a maintenance squadron, an operations support squadron and a special tactics squadron.

The mission of the 352 SOG is to serve as the focal point for all U.S. Air Force special operations activities throughout the European theater, including Africa and the Middle East. The 352 SOG is prepared to conduct a variety of high priority, low-visibility missions supporting U.S. and allied special operations forces throughout the European theater during peacetime, joint operations exercises and combat operations.

The 352nd develops and implements peacetime and wartime contingency plans. It effectively uses fixed-wing and personnel assets in infiltration by, exfiltration by and resupplying of U.S. and allied special operations forces.

The tactical components of the 352nd SOG are the:

95th Reconnaissance Squadron

The 95th Reconnaissance Squadron conducts RC-135 Rivet Joint flight operations in the European and Mediterranean theaters of operations as tasked by National Command Authorities and European Command. It was activated at RAF Mildenhall on July 1, 1994, having been previously assigned to RAF Alconbury.

The squadron provides all operational management, aircraft maintenance, administration, and intelligence support to produce politically sensitive real-time intelligence data vital to national foreign policy.

The 95 RS supports RC-135, OC-135, and E-4 missions when theater deployed.

488th Intelligence Squadron

The 488th Intelligence Squadron a component of the Air Intelligence Agency. Its mission is to deliver multi-source intelligence products, applications, services, and resources. It also provides IO forces and expertise in the areas of information warfare, command and control warfare, security, acquisition, foreign weapons systems and technology,

Also administratively assigned to the 488th Intelligence Squadron is Operating Location Souda Bay, Crete.

The present 488th Intelligence Squadron traces its lineage back to the 6954th Security Squadron which was originally designated Detachment 1 of the 6985th Security Squadron at RAF Upper Heyford, England, in June 1967. The unit moved to RAF Mildenhall, England, in August 1970. In 1974, Detachment 1 of the 6985th Security Squadron was designated as the 6954th Security Squadron.

In August 1979, the 6954th Security Squadron was designated as the 6954th Electronic Security Squadron to coincide with the designation of United States Air Force Security Service as the Electronic Security Command. In November 1990, with the deactivation of the 6916th Electronic Security Squadron, Hellenikon Air Base, Greece, the squadron assumed responsibility for all Electronic Security Command RC-135 support to the United States European Command. From October 1990 to March 1991, the squadron conducted operations from OL-RH, 6988th Electronic Security Squadron, Hellenikon AB, Greece.

In October 1991, the 6988th Electronic Security Squadron was subordinated to the Air Force Intelligence Command.

On October 1, 1993, the 6988th Electronic Security Squadron was designated the 488th Intelligence Squadron as part of the ongoing restructuring of Air Force Intelligence and the Air Force Intelligence Command as a field operating agency. The 488th Intelligence Squadron is under the administrative control of this field operating agency, which was designated Air Intelligence Agency on October 1, 1993.

On February 1, 2001, the Air Intelligence Agency was re-aligned under Eighth Air Force at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. This re-alignment placed Air Intelligence Agency under Air Combat Command. In peace and war, the 488th Intelligence Squadron has earned nine Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards.

On October 1, 2002, the 488th was re-aligned from the 67th Information Operations Wing to the 55th Wing. The re-alignment placed all RC-135 assets under one wing, reinforcing the nose to tail importance of this weapons system.

727th Air Mobility Squadron

The 727th Air Mobility Squadron is a unit of the 721st Air Mobility Operations Group, based at Ramstein AB, Germany.

The 727 AMS is part of AMC’s en route system that provides fixed and deployed maintenance, aerial port and command and control support to deployed command forces across the globe. The squadron has all the necessary support, like fleet service, maintenance and passenger service to allow aircraft and crews to quickly depart for their next destination or stay overnight for crew rest.

The squadron was redesignated as the 727 AMS on March 15, 2001. Prior to that, it was designated as the 627th Air Mobility Support Squadron assigned to the 621st Air Mobility Support Group. The change in designation was undertaken to better reflect the operations nature of the group's overall mission as an operational rather than support one.

Fleet Industrial Supply Center Sigonella, Detachment Mildenhall

FISCSI Mildenhall is a Navy Detachment of Fleet Industrial Supply Center Sigonella, Italy. The detachment was originally an aviation command known as Naval Air Facility Mildenhall, supporting Commander, US Naval Forces Euope (COMUSNAVEUR) headquarters in London. As NAF Mildenhall, the command was home to three Navy UC-12 Huron aircraft and provided support for transient US Navy and US Marine Corps aircraft. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the frequency of US naval aircraft transiting RAF Mildenhall disappated and with COMUSNAVEUR's subsequent relocation to Naples, Italy, the command's UC-12 aircraft were also reassigned. After being at RAF Mildenhall for more than 40 years, NAF Mildenhall was disestablished in 2005, downsized and then re-established as FISCSI Det Mildenhall. The mission of FISCSI Det Mildenhall is U.S. Navy fleet support in the United Kingdom and Northern Europe. The support includes receiving and shipping high priority parts and mail to the US naval units within that area.[1]

Mildenhall Unit Emblem Gallery

History

RAF Mildenhall is named after the nearby village of Mildenhall, Suffolk. It was established as a Royal Air Force station in 1930. During World War II, RAF Bomber Command used the station for operational combat missions until 1945.

Placed on standby status after the war, it was reopened by the Royal Air Force and became a USAF-RAF joint operation base on July 11, 1950. Assigned to Strategic Air Command to station B-29 Superfortress bombers that date. It became a B-50 Superfortress base in 1952, and a B-47 Stratojet and KC-97 Stratotanker base in 1953 until 1958.

Closed for runway repairs throughout 1958, the Military Air Transport Service transferred its main United Kingdom terminal to Mildenhall from RAF Burtonwood on March 1, 1959, and the base became "The Gateway to the United Kingdom," for most U.S. military personnel and dependents arriving or departing the United Kingdom since.

Assigned from Strategic Air Command to United States Air Forces in Europe on September 1, 1959 and RAF relinquished joint operations status that date. Has been in continuous USAFE operation to present

Major Units Assigned

  • 7511th Air Base Squadron, July 11 – September 26, 1950
Redesignated: 7511th Air Base Group, September 26, 1950 – February 1, 1953
Redesignated: 3910th Air Base Group, February 1, 1953 – April 15, 1955
Redesignated: 3913th Combat Support Group, January 1 – September 1, 1959
  • 53d Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, August 10, 1959 – March 18, 1960
  • 1625th Support Squadron (MATS), March 1, 1959 – January 8, 1966
  • 7513th Air Base Group, September 1, 1959 – July 1, 1966
Redesignated: 7513th Tactical Group

Reference[2]

Operational History

Origins

RAF Mildenhall opened on October 16, 1934. King George V reviewed 350 aircraft there in 1935 on the occasion of his Silver Jubilee. This historical event is commemorated by a memorial tablet located in front of the Building 562, the current 100 ARW headquarters. During World War II Mildenhall became a bomber station, flying Vickers Wellingtons, Short Stirlings and Avro Lancasters. It was also the headquarters of 3 Group Bomber Command. From 1950 Mildenhall became home to bombers and later tanker aircraft of the United States Air Force. Throughout the 1950s, Strategic Air Command bomber units were deployed on a regular rotational basis from the United States to the United Kingdom. The B-47 Stratojet was a familiar sight in the skies over RAF Mildenhall and RAF Upper Heyford at this time, as entire wings deployed on 90-day rotations. From 1976 to 1990, the SR-71 Blackbird was flown out of Mildenhall by Detachment 4 of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing of the USAF. RAF Mildenhall was, until 2003, the home of the largest military-sponsored air show in Europe, when it was cancelled because of increasing operational requirements.

In order to meet a perceived "continental threat", the British military developed the idea to site an RAF bomber base at Mildenhall in the late 1920s. Shortly thereafter, the government purchased the land in 1929, followed by the completion of the first buildings in 1931. Three years later, RAF Mildenhall opened on October 16, 1934, as one of the RAF’s largest bomber stations. On the same day, Wing Commander F.J. Linnell, O.B.E. assumed his position as the base’s first station commander. Although open, the base had yet to receive its first complement of military aircraft.

RAF Mildenhall’s premature inauguration was due in large part with its selection to host the Royal Aero Club’s prestigious MacRobertson Air Race on October 20, 1934. At the time, the air race stood as the longest race ever devised and attracted over 70,000 spectators to the base. Even more telling of the race’s significance in the world’s sporting spotlight, on short notice King George V and Queen Mary visited RAF Mildenhall the day before the race. In the end, pilots Tom Campbell Black and C.W.A. Scott flying the de Havilland Comet "Grosvenor House," crossed the finish line first at Melbourne, Australia, less than 72 hours after starting the race.

Following this propitious beginning, RAF Mildenhall received its first squadron and aircraft with the arrival of 99B Squadron, equipped with Handley Page Heyford bombers.

The threat the RAF had envisioned in the late 1920s materialized during the Munich Crisis. Between September 26, 1938 and October 4, 1939, the base completed its installation of its defense systems. After a brief reprieve from war, the base prepared for war, bringing station defenses and squadrons to full combat readiness. On September 3, 1939, three days after Germany invaded Poland, Britain and France declared war on Germany. Later that same day, three Wellington aircraft from Mildenhall were dispatched to bomb the German naval fleet at Wilhelmshaven.

World War II

Throughout World War II, RAF Mildenhall remained very active. In addition to its own airfield, the base held responsibility for satellite airfields at Newmarket, Tuddenham, and Lakenheath. During the course of the war, the base witnessed the transition from the two-engine Wellington, to the Short Stirling, and finally to the four-engine Avro Lancaster. In 1941, RAF Mildenhall was used for the making of the film Target for Tonight. So as not to give away important information to the enemy, RAF Mildenhall took the fictitious name of Millerton Aerodrome, and several other aspects were altered involving the day-to-day operations. The film, produced by the Crown Film Unit, focused on the planning and execution of an air raid on Germany, as seen by the crew of Vickers Wellington 'F for Freddie.' Dickson, the captain of 'F for Freddie', was played by Percy Pickard, who went on to lead the real-life Operation Biting and the later Operation Jericho raid on Amiens Prison.

For the duration of the war, except for a brief period to have concrete runways laid in 1943, RAF Mildenhall was involved in most of RAF Bomber Command’s many offensives against Germany. While carrying out its operational duties, the base withstood several attacks by the German Luftwaffe, but was never put out of commission (typically, the base’s downtime after an attack lasted until personnel could fill in the damage to the runways).

By the end of the war, aircraft from RAF Mildenhall and its satellite airfields dropped over 23,000 tons of explosives, laid 2,000 mines in enemy waters, and flew over 8,000 sorties. Unfortunately, the base also saw the loss of over 200 Wellington, Stirling, and Lancaster aircraft, and more significantly, the loss of over 2,000 aircrew members. Some of those who paid the ultimate price for peace, including Pilot Officer Rawdon Hume Middleton, an Australian who was posthumously awarded Britain’s highest military honor, the Victoria Cross, are buried at St. Johns Church cemetery in Beck Row

Immediately after the war, RAF Mildenhall participated in humanitarian missions, flying home repatriated prisoners of war, and dropping relief supplies to the Dutch people stranded by the flooding caused by the retreating German Army. By the end of 1945, Mildenhall’s operational activity experienced a drastic decrease, and despite a brief flurry of flying activity in the late 1940s, the RAF reduced the base to "care and maintenance" status. The only remaining RAF unit of significance was Headquarters No 3 Group, Bomber Command, which remained on station until 1967.

USAF Use of RAF Mildenhall

In response to the threat by the Soviet Union, especially after the 1948 Berlin Blockade and the 1950 invasion of South Korea by Communist forces, it was decided to re-establish a strong American force in Europe. On July 11, 1950, RAF Mildenhall was made available to the United States Air Force by the British Ministry of Defense as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) B-29 Superfortress base, with joint operations with the Royal Air Force units.

Prior to Strategic Air Command’s role at RAF Mildenhall, Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe established Third Air Force at South Ruislip Air Station in 1948 to command B-29 operations in England. Third Air Force was subsequently placed directly under USAF orders, with Strategic Air Command establishing the 7th Air Division Headquarters at RAF Mildenhall. The collocation of the two headquarters within the United Kingdom allowed HQ USAFE to discharge its responsibilities in England, while at the same time allowing Strategic Air Command to continue in its deterrent role while retaining operational control over flying activities at RAF Mildenhall.

Strategic Air Command Use
Boeing B-50D
Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker, 1951
Boeing RB-47H-1-BW Stratojet AF Serial No. 53-2496

The initial SAC unit to use RAF Mildenhall was the 7511th Air Base Group (later redesignated 3910th AB Group), being activated on July 11, 1950 to prepare the facility for operational use by SAC aircraft.

On May 1, 1951, Strategic Air Command took control of the station rotated Bomb Wings in and out of Mildenhall on temporary duty assignments. The first operational strategic unit to use the base was the Boeing B-50D Superfortress equipped 2d Bomb Wing, arriving on Temporary Duty (TDY) May 4, 1951 from Hunter AFB Georgia, departing on December 12, 1951.

Other rotational strategic bomb wings at Mildenhall were:

In 1953 RAF Mildenhall's mission was changed from a B-50 bomber base to a Boeing B-47 Stratojet and KC-97 Stratotanker aerial tanker dispersal base. This series of temporary deployments generally involved an entire wing of about 40 B-47s and about 20 tankers being held at readiness for several months, then being relieved by another unit that was based at a different airfield in the UK with the bombers and tankers also at different airfields. In this way SAC could spread out its potential as a Soviet target by placing its short range B-47s, weapons, and personnel on a ring of overseas bases from Greenland to North Africa, of which Mildenhall was one.

  • 55th Air Refueling Squadron (April 1953 – June 1954) (KB-50, KB-29P)
    (TDY From Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico)
  • 305th Air Refueling Squadron (September 1953 – December 1953) (KC-97)
    (TDY From MacDill AFB, Florida)
  • 22d Air Refueling Squadron (December 7, 1953 – March 5, 1954) (KC-97)
    (TDY From March AFB, California)
  • 303d Air Refueling Group (March 17, 1954 – June 5, 1954) (KC-97)
    (TDY From Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona)
  • 1370 Photo Mapping Group (June 1954 – September 1954) (RB-50G) (Photographic Reconnaissance)
    (TDY From Morrision AFB, Florida)
  • 97th Bombardment Wing (Summer 1954) (RB-50E/G, KB-29P) (Electronic Reconnaissance)
    (TDY From Biggs AFB, Texas)
  • 43d Air Refueling Group (August 1954 – December 1954) (KC-97)
    (TDY From Carswell AFB, Texas)
  • 306th Air Refueling Squadron (December 7, 1953 – March 5, 1954) (KC-97)
    (TDY From MacDill AFB, Florida)
  • 98th Air Refueling Squadron (November 7, 1955 – January 31, 1956) (KC-97)
    (TDY From Lincoln AFB, Nebraska)
  • Mildenhall Task Force (Provisional) (July 1, 1956 – May 1958) (RB/ERB-47H) (Electronic Reconnaissance and Countermeasures)
    (TDY From 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Forbes AFB, Kansas)
  • 380th Air Refueling Squadron (April 3, 1957 – July 3, 1957) (KC-97)
    (TDY From Shilling AFB, Kansas)
  • 44th Air Refueling Squadron (Autumn 1957) (KC-97)
    (TDY From Chennault AFB, Louisiana)

These TDYs became a heavy burden for both SAC as well as Military Air Transport Service (MATS) which had to transport thousands of personnel and tons of material to and from the United States in just a few days to support these rotations. In 1958, it was decided that these rotational TDYs would be replaced by a new system of overseas deployments called Reflex. From then on, rather than being deployed for a few months, a permanent SAC presence would be established at bases with aircraft being deployed for three weeks from several SAC bases, being kept on full alert status ready for instant takeoff at their "Reflex Bases".

Route of Mildenhall Task Forces RB-47H

The RB-47s based at RAF Mildenhall performed some of the most sensitive reconnaissance missions of the Cold War. During its service, at least two of these planes were lost flying missions over the Soviet Union. One incident occurred during a photographic mission over the Soviet Union. The plane was intercepted and fired upon by Soviet MiGs and sustained wing damage. Fortunately, it was able to outrun them at altitude and return to RAF Mildenhall. The RB-47s were eventually phased out and replaced with the Lockheed U-2 and SR-71. (See 306th Strategic Wing below)

In 1958 and the first half of 1959 the RAF Mildenhall runway was closed for repairs, and on September 1, 1959 the Royal Air Force ceased regular flying operations, making the USAF the sole operator of the base.

The host base SAC support unit at RAF Mildenhall was the 3910th Air Base Group, changing to the 3932d AB Squadron and lastly 3934th AB Squadron. These units provided the administrative, maintenance and logistical support necessary to the rotating operational wings and squadrons.

7513th Tactical Group
WB-50D of the 58th Weather Squadron

SAC departed RAF Mildenhall in 1959 as its runway requirements no longer met the requirements for its newer aircraft. On July 17, 1959, SAC and USAFE reached an agreement facilitating and substantially increasing Third Air Force’s role in making operational decisions regarding the US Air Force units in the UK. On July 1, 1959 USAFE took control of Mildenhall from SAC and the 7543d Air Base Squadron was activated by USAFE as the host unit. On September 1 the 7513th Tactical Group took over host unit responsibilities.

RAF Mildenhall became the home for the Military Air Transport Service (later Military Airlift Command) main air passenger terminal for the United Kingdom on March 1, 1959 with the 1625th Support Squadron providing military personnel and dependents service at the terminal with the drawdown at the Burtonwood Air Depot.

The 53d Weather Squadron was transferred to Mildenhall from RAF Alconbury on August 10, 1959, flying WB-50D Superfortresses s and was assigned with collecting weather data that was transmitted to weather stations for use in preparing forecasts required for the Air Force Military Air Transport Service (MATS) and the U.S. Weather Bureau. It was deactivated on March 18, 1960.

On November 15, 1965 Mildenhall welcomed the arrival of the Silk Purse Control Group and the 7120th Airborne Command and Control Squadron (7120 ACCS) previously stationed at Châteauroux-Déols Air Base, France. Upon its arrival at Mildenhall, the 7120th ACCS converted from C-118s to EC-135s which were used as airborne command posts under the code name "Silk Purse"

513th Tactical Airlift Wing
Lockheed C-130A's of the 513th Troop Carrier Wing
EC-135H "Looking Glass" Airborne Command Post
SAC Lockheed TR-1A of the 95th Recon Squadron
USAF Lockheed SR-71B Blackbird, taken December 1994 from an in-flight refueling tanker

On July 1, 1966, Mildenhall welcomed the arrival of the 513th Troop Carrier Wing from Evreux-Fauville Air Base France. With its activation on Mildenhall, the 513th TCW assumed operational control of two rotational (7441st, 7742d) Troop Carrier Squadrons of twenty MAC C-130 Hercules and the four Boeing EC-135H "Looking Glass" Flying Command Posts of the 7120th ACCS.

On July 8, 1958 the Air Force redesignated the 513 TCW the 513th Tactical Airlift Wing (513 TAW) with no change in its mission.

For the next four years RAF Mildenhall witnessed little change, with only the 10th ACCS replacing the 7120th ACCS on January 1, 1970, and assuming its mission. However, in June 1972, the base added to the list of its tenants with the arrival of Headquarters Third Air Force, which relocated from South Ruislip Air Station.

306th Strategic Wing

On July 1, 1978 the SAC 306th Strategic Wing was transferred to RAF Mildenhall from Ramstein Air Base, West Germany with a KC-135 air refueling and a RC-135 reconnaissance mission. The 306th also functioned as the focal point for all SAC operations in Europe and became the host unit at RAF Mildenhall. MAC cargo and passenger transport operations continued under the 435th Tactical Airlift Group.

With the arrival of the 306th SW, Mildenhall also became known as SAC's European Reconnaissance center. For many years various typed of Boeing RC-135 reconnaissance aircraft were observed regularly arriving and departing from the Mildenhall runway. Most of these aircraft come from the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska and had the capability to receive radar and radio signals from far behind the borders of the Communist Eastern Bloc. From Mildenhall the RC-135s flew ELINT and COMINT missions along the borders of Poland, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia. The twenty or so specialists on board the RC-135s during such missions listened to and recorded military radio frequencies and communications.

The next significant event in Mildenhall’s history came with the arrival of Detachment 4, 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing in 1976, which controlled rotational Lockheed U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird operations from the base. It is not known when SAC first began making reconnaissance flights in Europe with these aircraft. There are indications that these fast aircraft have been operating in Europe since the end of the 1960s, with an SR-71 making a stopover in August 1970 at RAF Upper Heyford, England, before a mission over the Middle East.

These aircraft carried out strategic photo reconnaissance missions for NATO and the USAF within the framework of the SALT I Agreement of 1972. Under this agreement the Soviet Union and the United States reached agreement on a partial freeze on the number of offensive nuclear weapons and these flights were to check that the Soviets were adhering to the agreement.

As well as the photo missions the 9th SRW gathered telemetry signals from Soviet missile systems. Such missions were carried out using the SR-71 and U-2/TR-1 aircraft and Boeing RC-135s from the 55th SRW. This information was analyzed, together with information originating from reconnaissance satellites to present an intelligence picture for analysis to assemble a good picture of Soviet activities for national decision-making.

The 306th SW also played a major role in the success of Operation El Dorado Canyon, the American attack on the Libyan capital of Tripoli in 1986. In support of this 14-hour, radio-silence rendezvous mission, the unit deployed the largest number of refueling aircraft ever flown over Europe and the largest fleet of KC-10's ever airborne at one time. In addition, the day after the attack 9th SW aircraft made several unmolested flights over the bombed military targets in and around Tripoli and Benghazi.

From their arrival until the departure of the last SR-71 on January 18, 1990, the 306th Strategic Wing's SR-71 and U-2 aircraft came to symbolize RAF Mildenhall in the local public's eye.

On June 18, 1987, HQ USAFE designated the 513 TAW as the 513th Airborne Command and Control Wing (513th ACCW) with responsibility for the E-3 Sentry AWCS aircraft at Mildenhall. The 513th ACCW's mission was to provide theater and Air Force commanders with trained aircrews and maintenance personnel and systems for airborne surveillance, warning and control of U.S. and allied military aviation assets.

Nearly five years later, during the Air Force’s transition to the objective wing structure, the Air Force inactivated the 513th ACCW on January 31, 1992. The 513th was reactivated as a group at Tinker AFB Oklahoma on March 15, 1996 as an Air Force Reserve unit.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union and lessening of Cold War tensions, the "Silk Purse" mission of the 10th ACCS came to an end on December 31, 1991 and the unit was inactivated.

Post Cold War

Seven KC-135R Stratotankers move on the RAF Mildenhall taxiway as part of a training mission to validate maintenance and operational capabilities.
Team Mildenhall Logo

The 306th SW operated at RAF Mildenhall until February 1, 1992 when the 100th Air Refueling Wing of USAFE, assumed the 306th SW responsibilities and became host unit at Mildenhall along with becoming Headquarters European Tanker Task Force with its KC-135 Stratotankers.

The 100th ARW provides aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft as well as aircraft of allied nations. Its aircraft are also capable of transporting litter and ambulatory patients using patient support pallets during aeromedical evacuations.

In May 1993, as part of the drawdown of forces in Europe, it was announced that the majority of the USAF-operated base at RAF Alconbury was to be returned to the British Ministry of Defence. As a part of this return, the 352nd Special Operations Group and its associated aircraft, the MC-130E, HC-130P/N and MH-53, transferred to RAF Mildenhall in March 1995.

On July 1, 1994 the 95th Reconnaissance Squadron was activated at Mildenhall, essentially taking over the mission of the deactivated 306th Strategic Wing.

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.mildenhall.af.mil/units/index.asp
  2. ^ Fletcher, Harry R. (1989) Air Force Bases Volume II, Active Air Force Bases outside the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6

Some of the text in an early version of this article was taken from pages on the RAF Mildenhall website, which as a work of the U.S. Government is presumed to be a public domain resource. That information was supplemented by:

  • 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
  • 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.
  • Fletcher, Harry R. (1989) Air Force Bases Volume II, Active Air Force Bases outside the United States of America on 17 September 1982. 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 0-912799-12-9.
  • Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to Present
  • Strategic-Air-Command.com

External links


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