An airbase is a military airfield that provides basing and support of military aircraft
Military aircraft
A military aircraft is any fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft that is operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any type. Military aircraft can be either combat or non-combat:...


They are different from civilian airports in that they do not provide for large volume of passenger transits, and cargo handling is not processed by the customs and immigration
Immigration is the act of foreigners passing or coming into a country for the purpose of permanent residence...

 facilities. Some military air forces combine use of civilian airports with the hosting of military units.

However, military aircraft usually use substantially different support equipment
Ground Support Equipment
Ground support equipment is the support equipment found at an airport, usually on the ramp, the servicing area by the terminal. This equipment is used to service the aircraft between flights. As its name implies, GSE is there to support the operations of aircraft on the ground...

, and require facilities sufficiently isolated from civilian operations for issues of aviation safety involving the weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

 ordnance they use.

Organization of an airfield

While some airfields provide facilities very like civilian airports, for example RAF Brize Norton
RAF Brize Norton
RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, about west north-west of London, is the largest station of the Royal Air Force. It is close to the settlements of Brize Norton, Carterton and Witney....

 in Oxfordshire
Oxfordshire is a county in the South East region of England, bordering on Warwickshire and Northamptonshire , Buckinghamshire , Berkshire , Wiltshire and Gloucestershire ....

, England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 which has a terminal which caters for passengers for the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

's scheduled flights, e.g., the TriStar
Lockheed L-1011
The Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, commonly referred to as the L-1011 or TriStar, is a medium-to-long range, widebody passenger trijet airliner. It was the third widebody airliner to enter commercial operations, following the Boeing 747 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10. Between 1968 and 1984, Lockheed...

 to the Falkland Islands
Falkland Islands
The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

, most do not. Most military airfields are located remotely from populated areas because of the ever-present potential of in-flight accidents that may cause a crash and significant infliction of damage and casualties on civilian population.

However, owing to growth of urban centres, many military airfields built during the Second World War are now located on the outskirts of large cities, and lack of required remoteness has cause constraints on flight operations to be introduced because of the noise pollution
Noise pollution
Noise pollution is excessive, displeasing human, animal or machine-created environmental noise that disrupts the activity or balance of human or animal life...

 generated by the operation of military aircraft, such as night flying restrictions.

The airbase operation is generally organised around its operational areas divided into the air command operations, air traffic control
Air traffic control
Air traffic control is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and in the air. The primary purpose of ATC systems worldwide is to separate aircraft to prevent collisions, to organize and expedite the flow of traffic, and to provide information and other...

 operations which are either towered
Control tower
A control tower, or more specifically an Air Traffic Control Tower , is the name of the airport building from which the air traffic control unit controls the movement of aircraft on and around the airport. Control towers are also used to control the traffic for other forms of transportation such...

 or non-towered
Non-towered airport
A non-towered airport, sometimes referred to as an uncontrolled airport, is an airport with no operating tower, or air traffic control unit...

 based, runway
According to ICAO a runway is a "defined rectangular area on a land aerodrome prepared for the landing and take-off of aircraft." Runways may be a man-made surface or a natural surface .- Orientation and dimensions :Runways are named by a number between 01 and 36, which is generally one tenth...

s, taxiway
A taxiway is a path on an airport connecting runways with ramps, hangars, terminals and other facilities. They mostly have hard surface such as asphalt or concrete, although smaller airports sometimes use gravel or grass....

s, and ramp
Airport ramp
The airport ramp or apron is part of an airport. It is usually the area where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refueled or boarded. Although the use of the apron is covered by regulations, such as lighting on vehicles, it is typically more accessible to users than the runway or taxiway...

s used in military operations to dislocate troops to be airlifted, or to stockpile cargo for loading. Refuelling is conducted in the pre-flight and inspection area.

More substantial maintenance and repair is conducted in the squadron maintenance operations, usually in or close to their squadron hangar
A hangar is a closed structure to hold aircraft or spacecraft in protective storage. Most hangars are built of metal, but other materials such as wood and concrete are also sometimes used...

s which are usually Hardened Aircraft Shelter
Hardened Aircraft Shelter
Hardened Aircraft Shelters , or Protective Aircraft Shelter , are a reinforced structure to house and protect military aircraft from enemy attack...

s to protect individual aircraft from air strikes. Maintenance is also carried out in the intermediate maintenance operations or the depot maintenance operations areas, the latter usually concerned with more substantial structural work such as changing an engine, crash repair, or field upgrades. A large part of the airbase surface is devoted to the maneuvering area used by aircraft to move around the different areas as they return from an air mission or prepare for one.

Station security

Military flight operations often require a higher level of airbase security, and in recent years, many countries have adopted higher levels of security because of threats of terrorist attacks. This security in wartime is augmented by basing of air defence systems and their units, usually on the periphery of the airbase, which use anti-aircraft weapons such as surface-to-air missile
Surface-to-air missile
A surface-to-air missile or ground-to-air missile is a missile designed to be launched from the ground to destroy aircraft or other missiles...

s and their fire control radars, to protect from air attack. Other units located at the military airbase may be runway repair troops.

Some airfields are built underground, such as Željava Air Base
Željava Air Base
Željava Air Base, situated on the border between Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina under Plješevica Mountain, near the town of Bihać in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was the largest underground airport and military airbase in the former Yugoslavia and one of the largest in Europe.-History:Construction...

 in the border of Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

 and Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...


United Kingdom

In the UK, the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 (RAF) simply call their stations Royal Air Force Stations, followed by the station name. This is often abbreviated into "RAF" - then the name, such as RAF Marham
RAF Marham
Royal Air Force Station Marham, more commonly known as RAF Marham, is a Royal Air Force station; a military airbase, near the village of Marham in the English county of Norfolk, East Anglia....

. They are generally named after the closest railway station
Train station
A train station, also called a railroad station or railway station and often shortened to just station,"Station" is commonly understood to mean "train station" unless otherwise qualified. This is evident from dictionary entries e.g...

 (because historically, in the early days of the RAF, rail travel was the only means of transport available to service personnel), although there are exceptions.

For example, the former RAF Coltishall
RAF Coltishall
The former Royal Air Force Station Coltishall, more commonly known as RAF Coltishall , was a Royal Air Force station, a military airbase, North-North-East of Norwich, in the English county of Norfolk, East Anglia, from 1938 to 2006....

 should have been named "RAF Buxton" after the small local rail station, but this would have caused confusion with the larger town of Buxton
Buxton is a spa town in Derbyshire, England. It has the highest elevation of any market town in England. Located close to the county boundary with Cheshire to the west and Staffordshire to the south, Buxton is described as "the gateway to the Peak District National Park"...

 in Derbyshire
Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire. The northern part of Derbyshire overlaps with the Pennines, a famous chain of hills and mountains. The county contains within its boundary of approx...

, and was therefore named after the nearest village. Many RAF stations have long since lost their local railway station.

For those RAF stations without any rail head, they were simply named after either the local village, or used the name of the relevant building which they resided in, such as RAF Bentley Priory
RAF Bentley Priory
RAF Bentley Priory was a non-flying Royal Air Force station near Stanmore in the London Borough of Harrow. It was famous as the headquarters of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain and the Second World War. The RAF Bentley Priory site includes a Grade II* listed Officers' Mess and Italian...

, or country RAF Belize. There is no difference in nomenclature for non-flying RAF Stations, and overseas RAF stations have followed the same principles.

The aviation division of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 (RN), the Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King and Westland Lynx helicopters...

 (FAA) generally follow the same principles of naming as the RAF, but are instead prefixed with Royal Naval Air Station, or RNAS for short, such as RNAS Yeovilton. However, in maintaining the maritime link, all Royal Naval Air Stations are additionally named in the same manner as the Navy's ships - in Yeoviltons' instance, it is also called HMS Heron
HMS Heron
Several ships of the Royal Navy has been named HMS Heron after the wading bird.* HMS Heron, an 18 gun 340 ton sloop purchased June 1804 . Renamed HMS Volcano in 1810 following conversion to a bomb vessel...


For the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 aviators, the Army Air Corps, they have previously used the term "Airfield", preceded by the local name, for example Wattisham Airfield. However, as the majority of current Army airfields are actually ex RAF stations, they now follow the same nomenclature methods as the RAF and RN, and precede the locality name with "Army Air Corps" (often abbreviated to AAC). For example, the former RAF Station Middle Wallop is now AAC Middle Wallop
Army Air Corps Middle Wallop
Army Air Corps Middle Wallop is a British Army base near the Hampshire village of Middle Wallop. The base hosts 2 Regiment Army Air Corps and the School of Army Aviation. The role of 2 Regiment is training and so AAC Middle Wallop is the base where most Army Air Corps pilots begin their careers...

. Unfortunately, some AAC airfields may also be known by the Garrison
Garrison is the collective term for a body of troops stationed in a particular location, originally to guard it, but now often simply using it as a home base....


The British Coast Guard, Her Majesty's Coastguard
Her Majesty's Coastguard
Her Majesty's Coastguard is the service of the government of the United Kingdom concerned with co-ordinating air-sea rescue.HM Coastguard is a section of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency responsible for the initiation and co-ordination of all civilian maritime Search and Rescue within the UK...

, generally do not have their own dedicated airfields. Most Coast Guard aircraft are usually operated from a "host" airfield, which may be either military or civil.

United States

The United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

, and its components (Air Force Reserve
Air Force Reserve Command
The Air Force Reserve Command is a major command of the U.S. Air Force with its headquarters at Robins AFB, Georgia.It stood up as a major command of the Air Force on 17 February 1997....

 and Air National Guard
Air National Guard
The Air National Guard , often referred to as the Air Guard, is the air force militia organized by each of the fifty U.S. states, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the territories of Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the District of Columbia of the United States. Established under Title 10 and...

) call their bases Air Force Base
Air Force Base
An Air Force Base is a military airbase of any of a number of air forces, such as the United States Air Force or South African Air Force ....

s, Air Reserve Base
Air Reserve Base
An Air Reserve Base is a base of the United States Air Force that has been converted from full-time to reserve. The official abbreviation is used after the name of the base such as in Dobbins ARB. One such base is the March Air Reserve Base in California.

s, or Air National Guard Bases; most of them are named after a person of military or governmental significance (e.g., Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan; Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base
Edwards Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located on the border of Kern County, Los Angeles County, and San Bernardino County, California, in the Antelope Valley. It is southwest of the central business district of North Edwards, California and due east of Rosamond.It is named in...

, California; General Mitchell Air Reserve Base, Wisconsin).

Those with very little or no flight
Flight is the process by which an object moves either through an atmosphere or beyond it by generating lift or propulsive thrust, or aerostatically using buoyancy, or by simple ballistic movement....

 activity are called Air Force Stations (e.g., Jackson Barracks
Jackson Barracks
Jackson Barracks is a military base in New Orleans, Louisiana. The base was established in 1834 and known as New Orleans Barracks prior to 7 July 1866 when it was renamed in honor of Andrew Jackson who first advocated a US military base here....

 Air Guard Station, Louisiana; Onizuka Air Force Station
Onizuka Air Force Station
Onizuka Air Force Station was a United States Air Force installation in Santa Clara County, California, just outside the city limits of Sunnyvale, at the intersection of U.S. Route 101 and State Route 237...

, California).

Air Force Bases located in other countries are called Air Bases, and are usually named after the city or region where they're located (e.g., Spangdahlem Air Base
Spangdahlem Air Base
Spangdahlem Air Base is a United States Air Force base located near the small German town of Spangdahlem, approximately 30 km NNE of the city of Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate.-Units:...

, Germany).

The United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 calls its air bases Army Airfields, and, like the Air Force, names most of them after a military figure (e.g., Polk Army Airfield, Louisiana; Biggs Army Airfield
Biggs Army Airfield
Biggs Army Airfield or Biggs AAF is a military airport located at Fort Bliss near El Paso, El Paso County, Texas, in the United States. The airfield was previously Biggs Air Force Base, a Strategic Air Command installation, between 1947 and 1966. The U.S. Army began operations supporting Ft...

, TX).

The United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

, United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

, and United States Coast Guard
United States Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...

 call their air bases Air Stations and generally name them after the area where they're located (e.g., Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida; Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, North Carolina; Kodiak Coast Guard Air Station, Alaska).

Road airbase

Road airbases are highway
A highway is any public road. In American English, the term is common and almost always designates major roads. In British English, the term designates any road open to the public. Any interconnected set of highways can be variously referred to as a "highway system", a "highway network", or a...

s constructed to double as auxiliary airbases in the event of war. Nations known to utilise this strategy are Sweden
Swedish Air Force
The Swedish Air Force is the air force branch of the Swedish Armed Forces.-History:The Swedish Air Force was created on July 1, 1926 when the aircraft units of the Army and Navy were merged. Because of the escalating international tension during the 1930s the Air Force was reorganized and expanded..., Finland
Finnish Air Force
The Finnish Air Force is one of the branches of the Finnish Defence Forces. Its peacetime tasks are airspace surveillance, identification flights, and production of readiness formations for wartime conditions...

, Germany
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

, Singapore
Republic of Singapore Air Force
The Republic of Singapore Air Force is the air arm of the Singapore Armed Forces. It was first established in 1968 as the Singapore Air Defence Command...

, Switzerland, Turkey and Poland. In the case of Finnish road airbases, the space needed for landing aircraft is reduced by means of an arrestor wire, similar to that used on some aircraft carriers.

Aircraft carrier

See also: Unsinkable aircraft carrier
Unsinkable aircraft carrier
An unsinkable aircraft carrier is a term sometimes used to refer to a geographical or political island that is utilized to extend the power projection of a military force...

An aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 is a type of naval ship
Naval ship
A naval ship is a ship used for combat purposes, commonly by a navy. Naval ships are differentiated from civilian ships by construction and purpose...

 which serves as a seaborne airbase, the development of which has greatly enhanced the capabilities of modern air force
Air force
An air force, also known in some countries as an air army, is in the broadest sense, the national military organization that primarily conducts aerial warfare. More specifically, it is the branch of a nation's armed services that is responsible for aerial warfare as distinct from an army, navy or...

s. They are now a key part of the military, allowing for military aircraft to be staged much nearer the theatre of conflict. Aircraft carriers were vital to the United States during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 and to the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in the 1982 Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...


See also

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