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Seventeenth Air Force (Air Forces Africa)
17th Air Force.png
Seventeenth Air Force emblem

United States Air Forces Africa.jpg
United States Air Forces Africa shield
Active April 17, 1953 – September 30, 1996
Reactivated: October 1, 2008
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Part of United States Air Forces in Europe
Garrison/HQ Rabat-Sale, Morocco (1953–1956)
Wheelus Air Base Libya (1956–1959)
Ramstein Air Base West Germany (1959–1973)
Sembach Air Base Germany (1973–1996)
Ramstein Air Base Germany (2008–present)
Army General William E. "Kip" Ward (left), U.S. Africa Command commander, and Maj. Gen. Ronald R. Ladnier, commander of 17th Air force, unfurl the 17th Air Force's guidon during an assumption-of-command ceremony at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
SSgt. Josh Woolridge,37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, and MSgt. Garrick Lewis, drop zone support lead for 17th Air Force, explain how to "cook" meals-ready-to-eat to members of the Ugandan Peoples Defense Forces
Members of the Senegal 3d Infantry Brigade Honor Platoon greet 17 AF Commander Brig. Gen. Mike Callan

Seventeenth Air Force (Air Forces Africa) (17 AF - AFAFRICA) is a numbered air force (NAF) of the United States Air Force. The command served the United States Air Forces in Europe during its years of active service (1953–1996). As of October 1, 2008, it is the Air Force component of United States Africa Command,[1] but is to remain under USAFE ordinancy until a future date when the Seventeenth Air Force, known now as the Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA), becomes a component that is autonomous of USAFE and answerable to AFRICOM.





  • Established as Seventeenth Air Force on April 17, 1953
Organized on April 25, 1953
Inactivated September 30, 1996
  • Reactivated October 1, 2008





June 1, 1985 – June 30, 1991
June 14, 1985 – May 1, 1991
August 7 – November 15, 1959


October 1, 1966 – January 31, 1973, Ramstein AB, West Germany
January 31, 1973 – July 31, 1991, Zweibrucken AB, West Germany (later Germany)
November 15, 1959 – September 1, 1966
June 30, 1991 – March 31, 1992
November 15, 1959 – September 1, 1966
June 30, 1991 – October 1, 1991
November 15, 1959 – September 25, 1966 Sembach Air Base, West Germany
April 1, 1985 – August 22, 1990 Wueschheim AS, West Germany
November 15, 1959 – September 30, 1991
December 31, 1971 – June 1, 1985
June 30, 1991 – July 31, 1996
November 15, 1959 – September 1, 1966
June 30, 1991 – March 31, 1992
November 15, 1959 – July 1, 1963
September 1, 1963 – May 20, 1965
October 5 – November 14, 1968
November 1, 1969 – June 14, 1985
May 1, 1991 – July 31, 1996
1985 – October 1, 1991
  • 486th Tactical Missile Wing, Woensdrecht AS, Netherlands
August 1987 (Activated, never equipped. Inactivated almost immediately)
July 1, 1968 – October 1, 1993
November 15, 1959 – April 15, 1985



The establishment of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949, increased USAFE's responsibilities and resulted in the designation and activation of Seventeenth Air Force on April 25, 1953 at Rabat, Morocco. Seventeenth Air Force supported a geographic area of North Africa, Portugal, Austria, the Middle East, Pakistan, India, Ceylon and the Mediterranean Islands.

Seventeenth Air Force was moved to Wheelus Air Base, Libya, on August 1, 1956 as the command expanded into Italy, Greece and Turkey. The command exchanged its support mission for the defensive and offensive air missions in Central Europe in 1959.

The headquarters was then relocated in November 1959 to Ramstein AB, West Germany. At Ramstein, Seventeenth Air Force exchanged its support mission in the southern region for the defensive and offensive air mission in central Europe. The command's inventory included more than 500 tactical and 150 support aircraft operating from bases in West Germany, France, The Netherlands and Italy. After the 1961 Berlin Crisis and a USAFE headquarters reorganization, 17 AF assumed responsibility for five bases in Great Britain from Third Air Force.

During the 1972 USAFE reorganization, CINCUSAFE moved his headquarters across Germany from Lindsey Air Station] to Ramstein Air Base. To accommodate USAFE HQ, 17 AF relocated to Sembach Air Base, West Germany, in October 1972.

In the 1980s, 17th Air Force saw the number of its subordinate units almost double. Its area of responsibility included three of the Ground Launched Cruise Missile sites in Europe. In 1985, for the first time ever, 17th Air Force brought together all European-based electronic warfare aircraft under a single command when it activated the 65th Air Division and the 66th Electronic Wing at Sembach. All of these units were deactivated in the early 1990s.

Seventeenth Air Force was inactivated effective September 30, 1996, due to reorganization and realignment in the wake of the end of the Cold War.


It was announced on September 12, 2008[2] that a newly-activated Seventeenth Air Force will be headquartered at Ramstein Air Base, located west of Kaiserslautern in the German federal state of Rheinland-Palatinate as part of the creation of the United States Africa Command. The stand-up ceremony occurred on September 18, 2008, under the command of Major General Ron Ladnier.

It was officially reactivated by the Air Force on October 1, 2008. In this capacity, it is currently subordinate to the United States Air Forces in Europe, and be referred to by its componency name: Air Forces Africa (AFAFRICA).

Its first flying unit was activated on October 6, 2008. The 42d Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, with two C-130s, will serve under the 404th Air Expeditionary Group flying from Ramstein.[3]


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

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