Tactical Air Command
Overview
 
Tactical Air Command is an inactive United States Air Force organization. It was a Major Command of 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...

, established on 21 March 1946 being headquartered at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. It was inactivated on 1 June 1992 and its personnel and equipment were absorbed by Air Combat Command.
Tactical Air Command was established to provide a balance between strategic, air defense, and tactical forces of the post–World War II Air Force.
Encyclopedia
Tactical Air Command is an inactive United States Air Force organization. It was a Major Command of 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...

, established on 21 March 1946 being headquartered at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

. It was inactivated on 1 June 1992 and its personnel and equipment were absorbed by Air Combat Command.

History

Tactical Air Command was established to provide a balance between strategic, air defense, and tactical forces of the post–World War II Air Force. In 1948 the Continental Air Command
Continental Air Command
Continental Air Command was a Major Command of the United States Air Force responsible primarily for administering the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.-Lineage:...

 assumed control over air defense, tactical air, and air reserve forces. After two years in a subordinate role, Tactical Air Command (TAC) was reestablished as a major command.

In 1992, after assessing the mission of TAC and to accommodate the decision made regarding Strategic Air Command, HQ United States Air Force inactivated TAC and incorporated its resources into the newly created Air Combat Command.

Lineage

  • Established as Tactical Air Command, and activated, on 21 March 1946
Reduced from major command status, and assigned to Continental Air Command as a subordinate operational command, 1 December 1948
Returned to major command status. 1 December 1950
Inactivated on 1 June 1992.

Assignments

  • HQ, United States Army Air Forces
    United States Army Air Forces
    The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

    , 21 March 1946
  • HQ, 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...

    , 27 September 1947
  • Continental Air Command
    Continental Air Command
    Continental Air Command was a Major Command of the United States Air Force responsible primarily for administering the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.-Lineage:...

    , 1 December 1948
  • HQ, 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...

    , 1 December 1950 – 1 June 1992

Stations

Headquarters
  • MacDill AAF
    MacDill Air Force Base
    MacDill Air Force Base is an active United States Air Force base located approximately south-southwest of downtown Tampa, Florida...

    , Florida, 21 March 1946
  • Langley AAF (Later AFB), Virginia
    Virginia
    The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

    , 26 May 1946 – 1 June 1992

Air Forces

  • First Air Force
    First Air Force
    The First Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Air Combat Command . It is headquartered at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida....

    , 6 December 1985 – 1 June 1992
  • Ninth Air Force
    Ninth Air Force
    The Ninth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force's Air Combat Command . It is headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina....

    , 28 March 1946 – 1 December 1948; 1 December 1950 – 1 June 1992
  • Twelfth Air Force, 17 May 1946 – 1 December 1948; 1 January 1958 – 1 June 1992
  • Eighteenth Air Force
    Eighteenth Air Force
    Eighteenth Air Force is a Numbered Air Force component of the United States Air Force Air Mobility Command . It was activated on 1 October 2003 and headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois...

    , 28 March 1951 – 1 January 1958
  • Nineteenth Air Force
    Nineteenth Air Force
    The Nineteenth Air Force is a Numbered Air Force of the United States Air Force headquartered at Randolph Air Force Base and belonging to the Air Education and Training Command...

    , 8 July 1955 – 2 July 1973

Named Units/Air Divisions

  • Air Forces Iceland
    85th Group
    The 85th Group is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with United States Air Forces in Europe, assigned to Third Air Force, being stationed at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland. It was inactivated on 28 June 2006....

    , 1 October 1979 – 31 May 1993
  • Air Forces Panama
    Air Forces Panama
    The Air Forces Panama, formerly 830th Air Division, is an inactive United States Air Force Division. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, assigned to Twelfth Air Force, being stationed at Howard Air Force Base, Panama. It was inactivated on 11 February 1992.The USAF Southern Airlift...

     (830th Air Division), 1 January 1976 – 11 February 1992
  • Air Defense, Tactical Air Command (ADTAC)
    Aerospace Defense Command
    Aerospace Defense Command is an inactive United States Air Force Major Command. Established in 1946 under the United States Army Air Forces, its mission was to organize and administer the integrated air defense system of the Continental United States , exercise direct control of all active...

    , 1 July 1979 – 6 December 1985
20th Air Division (ADTAC)
20th Air Division (United States)
The 20th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, being stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida...

: 1 October 1979 – 1 March 1983
21st Air Division (ADTAC)
21st Air Division (United States)
The 21st Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, being stationed at Griffiss Air Force Base, New York...

: 1 October 1979 – 23 September 1981
23d Air Division (ADTAC): 1 October 1979 – 1 July 1987
24th Air Division (ADTAC)
24th Air Division (United States)
The 24th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force intermediate echelon command and control organization. It was last assigned to First Air Force, Tactical Air Command...

: 1 October 1979 – 30 September 1990
25th Air Division (ADTAC)
25th Air Division (United States)
The 25th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force intermediate echelon command and control organization. It was last assigned to First Air Force, Tactical Air Command . It was inactivated on 30 September 1990 at McChord Air Force Base, Washington.-History:The command was activated on...

, 1 October 1979 – 30 September 1990
26th Air Division (ADTAC)
26th Air Division (United States)
The 26th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, assigned to First Air Force, being stationed at March Air Force Base, California. It was inactivated on 30 September 1990.-History:Was established in October 1948 by Air...

, 1 October 1979 – 6 December 1985
28th Air Division (ADTAC)
28th Air Division (United States)
The 28th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, being stationed at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma...

, 1 April 1985 – 29 May 1992


  • 831st Air Division
    831st Air Division
    The 831st Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, assigned to Twelfth Air Force, being stationed at George Air Force Base, California...

     (1957-1971; 1980-1991)
George AFB (Western United States)
  • 832d Air Division
    832d Air Division
    The 832d Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, assigned to Twelfth Air Force, being stationed at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona...

     (1957-1975; 1990-1991)
Cannon AFB (Southwestern United States)
  • 833d Air Division
    833d Air Division
    The 833d Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, assigned to Twelfth Air Force, being stationed at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico...

     (1964-1969; 1990-1991)
Seymour Johnson AFB (Mid-Atlantic United States)
  • 834th Air Division (1957-1959)
England AFB (South Central United States)
  • 835th Air Division
    835th Air Division
    The 835th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, assigned to Twelfth Air Force, being stationed at McConnell AFB, Kansas...

     (1964-1971)
McConnell AFB (Midwest United States)

  • 836th Air Division
    836th Air Division
    The 836th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, assigned to Twelfth Air Force, being stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona...

     (1957-1971; 1981-1992)
MacDill AFB (Southeast United States)
  • 837th Air Division
    837th Air Division
    The 837th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, assigned to Ninth Air Force, being stationed at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina...

     (1958-1963)
Shaw AFB, (Tactical Reconnaissance Wings)
  • 838th Air Division
    838th Air Division
    The 838th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Tactical Air Command, assigned to Twelfth Air Force, being stationed at Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas. It was inactivated on December 24, 1969....

     (1957-1969)
Forbes AFB (Troop Carrier Wings)
  • 839th Air Division
    839th Air Division
    The 839th Airlift Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Military Airlift Command, assigned to Twenty-First Air Force, being stationed at Sewart Air Force Base, Tennessee...

     (1957-1974)
Sewart AFB (Troop Carrier Wings)
  • 840th Air Division
    840th Air Division
    The 840th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with Ninth Air Force, being stationed at Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio. It was inactivated on 24 December 1969....

     (1964-1969)
Lockbourne AFB (Troop Carrier Wings)


Major Aircraft

  • Fighters
Douglas A-1 Skyraider
A-1 Skyraider
The Douglas A-1 Skyraider was an American single-seat attack aircraft that saw service between the late 1940s and early 1980s. It became a piston-powered, propeller-driven anachronism in the jet age, and was nicknamed "Spad", after a French World War I fighter...

Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II
A-7 Corsair II
The Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II is a carrier-based subsonic light attack aircraft introduced to replace the United States Navy's Douglas A-4 Skyhawk, initially entering service during the Vietnam War...

Fairchild-Republic A/OA-10 Thunderbolt II
A-10 Thunderbolt II
The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is an American single-seat, twin-engine, straight-wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic in the early 1970s. The A-10 was designed for a United States Air Force requirement to provide close air support for ground forces by attacking tanks,...

Cessna T-37/A-37 Tweety Bird
Cessna T-37
The Cessna T-37 Tweet is a small, economical twin-engine jet trainer-attack type aircraft which flew for decades as a primary trainer for the United States Air Force and in the air forces of several other nations...

McDonnell Douglas F/RF-4 Phantom II
F-4 Phantom II
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engined, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor fighter/fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the U.S. Navy. Proving highly adaptable,...

Northrop F-5 Freedom Fighter
McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
F-15 Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It is considered among the most successful modern fighters with over 100 aerial combat victories with no losses in dogfights...

General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon
F-16 Fighting Falcon
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force . Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,400 aircraft have been built since...

North American P/F-51 Mustang
P-51 Mustang
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and in several other conflicts...

Lockheed P/F/RF-80 Shooting Star
P-80 Shooting Star
The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the United States Army Air Forces. Designed in 1943 as a response to the German Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter, and delivered in just 143 days from the start of the design process, production models were flying but...

Republic P/F-47 Thunderbolt
P-47 Thunderbolt
Republic Aviation's P-47 Thunderbolt, also known as the "Jug", was the largest, heaviest, and most expensive fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single reciprocating engine. It was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to...

Republic Aviation F/RF-84 Thunderjet
F-84 Thunderjet
The Republic F-84 Thunderjet was an American turbojet fighter-bomber aircraft. Originating as a 1944 United States Army Air Forces proposal for a "day fighter", the F-84 flew in 1946...

North American F-82 Twin Mustang
F-82 Twin Mustang
The North American F-82 Twin Mustang was the last American piston-engine fighter ordered into production by the United States Air Force. Based on the P-51 Mustang, the F-82 was originally designed as a long-range escort fighter in World War II; however, the war ended well before the first...

North American F-86 Sabre
F-86 Sabre
The North American F-86 Sabre was a transonic jet fighter aircraft. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as America's first swept wing fighter which could counter the similarly-winged Soviet MiG-15 in high speed dogfights over the skies of the Korean War...

North American F-100 Super Sabre
F-100 Super Sabre
The North American F-100 Super Sabre was a supersonic jet fighter aircraft that served with the United States Air Force from 1954 to 1971 and with the Air National Guard until 1979. The first of the Century Series collection of USAF jet fighters, it was the first USAF fighter capable of...

McDonnell F/RF-101 Voodoo
F-101 Voodoo
The McDonnell F-101 Voodoo was a supersonic military jet fighter which served the United States Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force...

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter
F-104 Starfighter
The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, high-performance, supersonic interceptor aircraft originally developed for the United States Air Force by Lockheed. One of the Century Series of aircraft, it served with the USAF from 1958 until 1969, and continued with Air National Guard units...

Republic F-105 Thunderchief
F-105 Thunderchief
The Republic F-105 Thunderchief, was a supersonic fighter-bomber used by the United States Air Force. The Mach 2 capable F-105 conducted the majority of strike bombing missions during the early years of the Vietnam War; it has the dubious distinction of being the only US aircraft to have been...

Convair F-106A Delta Dart
F-106 Delta Dart
The Convair F-106 Delta Dart was the primary all-weather interceptor aircraft for the United States Air Force from the 1960s through the 1980s. Designed as the so-called "Ultimate Interceptor", it has proven to be the last dedicated interceptor in USAF service to date...

General Dynamics F/EF-111
General Dynamics F-111
The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" was a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft that also filled the roles of strategic bomber, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare in its various versions. Developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics, it first entered service in 1967 with the...



  • Trainers
North American T-6 Texan
T-6 Texan
The North American Aviation T-6 Texan was a single-engine advanced trainer aircraft used to train pilots of the United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, Royal Air Force and other air forces of the British Commonwealth during World War II and into the 1950s...

North American T-28 Trojan
T-28 Trojan
The North American Aviation T-28 Trojan is a piston-engined military trainer aircraft used by the United States Air Force and United States Navy beginning in the 1950s...

Convair T-29
C-131 Samaritan
The Convair C-131 Samaritan was an American military transport produced from 1954 to 1956. It is the military version of the Convair CV-240.-Design and development:...

Northrop T-38 Talon
T-38 Talon
The Northrop T-38 Talon is a twin-engine supersonic jet trainer. It was the world's first supersonic trainer and is also the most produced. The T-38 remains in service as of 2011 in air forces throughout the world....

Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star
T-33 Shooting Star
The Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star is an American-built jet trainer aircraft. It was produced by Lockheed and made its first flight in 1948, piloted by Tony LeVier. The T-33 was developed from the Lockheed P-80/F-80 starting as TP-80C/TF-80C in development, then designated T-33A. It was used by the...


  • Observation
Cessna O-1 Bird Dog
Cessna L-19 Bird Dog
The Cessna L-19/O-1 Bird Dog was a liaison and observation aircraft. It was the first all-metal fixed-wing aircraft ordered for and by the United States Army since the U.S. Army Air Forces separated from the Army in 1947, becoming its own branch of service, the U.S. Air Force. The Bird Dog had a...

Cessna O-2 Skymaster
O-2 Skymaster
The O-2 Skymaster is a military version of the Cessna 337 Super Skymaster utilized as an observation and forward air control aircraft...

North American OV-10 Bronco
OV-10 Bronco
The North American Aviation Rockwell OV-10 Bronco is a turboprop light attack and observation aircraft. It was developed in the 1960s as a special aircraft for counter-insurgency combat, and one of its primary missions was as a forward air control aircraft...


  • Cargo/Transports/Electronic Warfare
de Havilland Canada C-7 Caribou
De Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou
The de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou is a Canadian-designed and produced specialized cargo aircraft with short takeoff and landing capability...

Douglas C/AC-47 Skytrain
C-47 Skytrain
The Douglas C-47 Skytrain or Dakota is a military transport aircraft that was developed from the Douglas DC-3 airliner. It was used extensively by the Allies during World War II and remained in front line operations through the 1950s with a few remaining in operation to this day.-Design and...

Fairchild C-82 Packet
C-82 Packet
The C-82 Packet was a twin-engine, twin-boom cargo aircraft designed and built by Fairchild Aircraft. It was used briefly by the United States Army Air Forces and United States Navy following World War II.-Design and development:...

Fairchild C/AC-119 Flying Boxcar
C-119 Flying Boxcar
The Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar was an American military transport aircraft developed from the World War II-era Fairchild C-82 Packet, designed to carry cargo, personnel, litter patients, and mechanized equipment, and to drop cargo and troops by parachute...

Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star
EC-121 Warning Star
The Lockheed EC-121 Warning Star was a United States Navy and United States Air Force airborne early warning radar surveillance aircraft. A military version of the Lockheed Constellation, it was designed to serve as an airborne early warning system to supplement the Distant Early Warning Line,...

Fairchild C-123 Provider
C-123 Provider
The C-123 Provider was an American military transport aircraft designed by Chase Aircraft and subsequently built by Fairchild Aircraft for the United States Air Force...

Lockheed C/AC-130 Hercules
C-130 Hercules
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport...

Boeing E-3 AWACS
Boeing EC-135 AW&CP
C-135 Stratolifter
|-See also:-External links:* at Globalsecurity.org...

Boeing E-8C Joint STARS
E-8 Joint STARS
The Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System is a battle management and command and control aircraft of the United States Air Force...


  • Bombers
Douglas B/RB-26 Invader
A-26 Invader
The Douglas A-26 Invader was a United States twin-engined light attack bomber built by the Douglas Aircraft Co. during World War II that also saw service during several of the Cold War's major conflicts...

Martin B/RB-57 Canberra
B-57 Canberra
The Martin B-57 Canberra was a United States-built, twin jet engine light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, which entered service with the United States Air Force in 1953. The B-57 was initially a version of the English Electric Canberra built under license. However, the Glenn L...

Douglas B/RB/EB-66 Destroyer
B-66 Destroyer
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Baugher, Joe. USAAC/USAAF/USAF Bomber Aircraft: Third Series of USAAC/USAAF/USAF Bombers, 2001. Retrieved: 27 July 2006....

Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk
F-117 Nighthawk
The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk was a single-seat, twin-engine stealth ground-attack aircraft formerly operated by the United States Air Force . The F-117A's first flight was in 1981, and it achieved initial operating capability status in October 1983...


  • Tankers
Boeing KB-29 Superfortress
B-29 Superfortress
The B-29 Superfortress is a four-engine propeller-driven heavy bomber designed by Boeing that was flown primarily by the United States Air Forces in late-World War II and through the Korean War. The B-29 was one of the largest aircraft to see service during World War II...

Boeing KB-50 Superfortress
B-50 Superfortress
The Boeing B-50 Superfortress strategic bomber was a post-World War II revision of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, fitted with more powerful Pratt & Whitney R-4360 radial engines, stronger structure, a taller fin, and other improvements. It was the last piston-engined bomber designed by Boeing for...

Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker
KC-97 Stratotanker
The Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker was a United States strategic tanker aircraft based on the Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter. It was succeeded by the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker.-Design and development:...


  • Helicopters
Bell UH-1 Huey
UH-1 Iroquois
The Bell UH-1 Iroquois is a military helicopter powered by a single, turboshaft engine, with a two-bladed main rotor and tail rotor. The helicopter was developed by Bell Helicopter to meet the United States Army's requirement for a medical evacuation and utility helicopter in 1952, and first flew...

Hiller OH-23 Raven
Hughes H-6
Hughes H-6
The Hughes OH-6 Cayuse is a single-engine light helicopter with a four-bladed main rotor used for personnel transport, escort and attack missions, and observation...

Sikorsky MH-53J/H Pave Low
CH-53E Super Stallion
The Sikorsky CH-53E Super Stallion is the largest and heaviest helicopter in the United States military. It was developed from the CH-53 Sea Stallion, mainly by adding a third engine, a seventh blade to the main rotor and canting the tail rotor 20 degrees. Sailors commonly refer to the Super...

Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk
HH-60 Pave Hawk
The Sikorsky MH-60G/HH-60G Pave Hawk is a twin turboshaft engine helicopter in service with the United States Air Force. It is a derivative of the UH-60 Black Hawk and incorporates the US Air Force PAVE electronic systems program...

Sikorsky H-19
Sikorsky H-5
Sikorsky H-5
The Sikorsky H-5, is a helicopter built by Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, formerly used by the United States Air Force, and its predecessor, the United States Army Air Forces, as well as the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard The Sikorsky H-5, (aka R-5, S-51, HO3S-1, or Horse) (R-5...

Sikorsky R-4
Sikorsky R-4
The Sikorsky R-4 was a two-place helicopter designed by Igor Sikorsky with a single, three-bladed main rotor and powered by a radial engine. The R-4 was the world's first large-scale mass-produced helicopter and the first helicopter to enter service with the United States Army Air Forces, Navy, and...

Sikorsky S-62
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk

P-series (Pursuit) designation changed to F-series (Fighter) designation in 1947.
Source for lineage, assignments, stations, components, aircraft

Operational history

World War II showed the effectiveness of tactical air power in supporting army ground forces. However, the rapid demobilization in late 1945 meant that the huge air armada that had brought Germany to her knees and victory in Europe had been downsized to a shadow of its former self.

Headquarters United States Army Air Forces
United States Army Air Forces
The United States Army Air Forces was the military aviation arm of the United States of America during and immediately after World War II, and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force....

 (USAAF) had little money and most of the wartime personnel had returned to civilian life. Many of its aircraft were being sent to storage or the scrapyards, although the increasing tension with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 meant that combat military forces were was still needed. The big questions were how much and what kind of forces.

A major realignment of the USAAF was undertaken in early 1946. As part of the realignment, three major command divisions within the Continental United States (CONUS) were formed: Strategic Air Command
Strategic Air Command
The Strategic Air Command was both a Major Command of the United States Air Force and a "specified command" of the United States Department of Defense. SAC was the operational establishment in charge of America's land-based strategic bomber aircraft and land-based intercontinental ballistic...

, Tactical Air Command, and Air Defense Command. Each was given a specific responsibility, using assets prescribed to accomplish the assigned mission. Tactical Air Command was formed to command, organize, equip, train and administer assigned or attached forces. It was to plan for and participate in tactics for fighter, light bombardment and other aircraft. These included tactical fighters, tactical bombers, tactical missiles, troop carrier aircraft, assault, reconnaissance and support units. TAC also planned for and developed the capability to deploy tactical striking forces anywhere in the world.

During its existence, Tactical Air Command deployed personnel, material and/or aircraft to Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe and Australia
Australia (continent)
Australia is the world's smallest continent, comprising the mainland of Australia and proximate islands including Tasmania, New Guinea, the Aru Islands and Raja Ampat Islands...

 in support of its prescribed mission.

TAC's original authorization was 25,500 officers and enlisted men. Aircraft assets available consisted of propeller-driven North American P-51 Mustangs
P-51 Mustang
The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range, single-seat fighter and fighter-bomber used during World War II, the Korean War and in several other conflicts...

, Republic P-47 Thunderbolts
P-47 Thunderbolt
Republic Aviation's P-47 Thunderbolt, also known as the "Jug", was the largest, heaviest, and most expensive fighter aircraft in history to be powered by a single reciprocating engine. It was heavily armed with eight .50-caliber machine guns, four per wing. When fully loaded, the P-47 weighed up to...

 and a handful of the new jet-powered Lockheed P-80 Shooting Stars
P-80 Shooting Star
The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star was the first jet fighter used operationally by the United States Army Air Forces. Designed in 1943 as a response to the German Messerschmitt Me-262 jet fighter, and delivered in just 143 days from the start of the design process, production models were flying but...

. TAC was also given control of the Third Air Force
Third Air Force
The Third Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Forces in Europe . It is headquartered at Ramstein Air Base, Germany....

, Ninth Air Force
Ninth Air Force
The Ninth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force's Air Combat Command . It is headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina....

 and Twelfth Air Force.

Berlin Airlift

On 18 September 1947 the United States Air Force was established as a separate military force, with TAC as one of its major commands. Just a few months later, in March 1948 the first test of the United States' resolve began with the blockade of Berlin
Berlin Blockade
The Berlin Blockade was one of the first major international crises of the Cold War and the first resulting in casualties. During the multinational occupation of post-World War II Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the Western Allies' railway and road access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied...

 by the Soviet Union, and the need for tactical air power in Europe to underscore the airlift mission was necessary.

At the time there was only one USAFE tactical air unit available in Europe, the 86th Composite Group at Neubiberg Air Base
Neubiberg Air Base
Neubiberg Air Base is a former German and United States Air Force airfield which was closed in 1991. It is located 9 km south of the city of Munich, Germany....

 near Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

, flying P-47Ds. TAC was called upon to send additional units and aircraft to Europe to reinforce the 86th FG. The 36th Fighter Group was transferred from Howard AAF in the Panama Canal Zone
Panama Canal Zone
The Panama Canal Zone was a unorganized U.S. territory located within the Republic of Panama, consisting of the Panama Canal and an area generally extending 5 miles on each side of the centerline, but excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of...

 to Furstenfeldbruck Air Base
Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base
Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base is a German Air Force airfield located near the town of Fürstenfeldbruck in Bavaria, near Munich, Germany....

 flying Lockheed F-80B "Shooting Stars".

In addition to the tactical fighter aircraft, TAC also deployed available C-47s to Europe, transferring them to the United States Air Forces, Europe, which was in control of the airlift. As the airlift continued, TAC also transferred available C-54s to Europe, where they were assigned to the troop carrier groups that had been sent to Germany for the airlift.

Consequently, the Soviet Union entered into negotiations which culminated in an agreement, signed on 5 May 1949, that resulted in the lifting of the blockade, but it did not settle the basic issue of freedom of access. Despite the resumption of surface traffic into the city, the airlift continued until 30 September to mass a reserve of food, fuel, and other supplies in the event the Soviets reimposed the blockade.

Continental Air Command

In December 1948 Air Defense Command and Tactical Air Command were brought together to form Continental Air Command (ConAC). HQ TAC was reduced to the status of an operational headquarters under CONAC. This move reflected an effort to concentrate all fighter forces deployed within the continental United States to strengthen the air defense of the North American continent.

The creation of ConAC was largely an administrative convenience: the units assigned to ConAC were dual-trained and expected to revert to their primary strategic or tactical roles after the air defense battle was won.

Two years later, on 1 December 1950, the Air Force reestablished Tactical Air Command as a major command and removed it from assignment to ConAC in large part due to the need to deploy personnel and aircraft to Japan and South Korea due to the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

.

Korean War

On the morning of 25 June 1950, the peace in South Korea was shattered by the clanking of tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s. The North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

n army had crossed the 38th parallel and were driving south towards the South Korean capital of Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

. The United States Air Force, weakened by demobilization and preoccupied with the threat of the Soviet Union, was thrust into its first war as a separate service when North Korea invaded South Korea.

Air bases in the United States went on mobility alert to prepare for overseas movement in response to the Korean Emergency. Units from SAC and CONAC were deployed to Japan and South Korea. 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...

 units were also called up to active duty and placed under Federal Service in case they were needed. What started out as an emergency turned into a bona-fide war. The Korean War marked the creation of a professional Air Force that would grow in size and strength for decades to come.

From the start, the deployed tactical fighters and bombers to Japan and South Korea were effective. For example, on 10 July a North Korean armored column was trapped at a bombed-out bridge near Pyongtaek. F-80s, B-26s, and F-82s destroyed 117 trucks, 38 tanks, and seven half-tracks. This attack, along with others, gutted North Korea's single armored division. Had it survived, it could easily have punched through the United Nations (UN) defensive line at Pusan and driven UN Command (UNC) forces into the sea.

By the end of August 1950, the initial North Korean onslaught was reversed and Seoul was retaken. As the United Nations forces advanced into North Korea, forces from the Communist China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 stepped in to help their North Korean allies. The UN advance ground to a halt in December, then retreated south in early 1951, tactical aircraft continued to support of United Nations forces. Eventually the line stabilized along the 38th Parallel, where a stalemate ensued for the next two years.

Known TAC units and aircraft deployed to Far East Air Forces (1950–1953)

Units and aircraft were stationed both in South Korea and Japan and attached to Fifth Air Force
Fifth Air Force
The Fifth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Pacific Air Forces . It is headquartered at Yokota Air Base, Japan....

 during their deployment to Far East Air Force (FEAF). This list does not include ConAC Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard tactical air units federalized and deployed to FEAF during the Korean War. 0912799129
  • 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing
    4th Fighter Wing
    The 4th Fighter Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Combat Command Ninth Air Force. It is stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, where it is also the host unit....

     (F-86 Sabre
    F-86 Sabre
    The North American F-86 Sabre was a transonic jet fighter aircraft. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as America's first swept wing fighter which could counter the similarly-winged Soviet MiG-15 in high speed dogfights over the skies of the Korean War...

    )
Deployed from: New Castle Airport
New Castle Airport
New Castle Airport , also known as the New Castle County Airport, is a public airport located in unincorporated New Castle County, Delaware, United States and four miles south of the central business district of the city of Wilmington....

, Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

  • 474th Fighter-Bomber Group Wing
    474th Tactical Fighter Wing
    The 474th Air Expeditionary Group is a provisional United States Air Force unit assigned to Air Combat Command. It may be activated or inactivated at any time....

     (F-84 Thunderjet
    F-84 Thunderjet
    The Republic F-84 Thunderjet was an American turbojet fighter-bomber aircraft. Originating as a 1944 United States Army Air Forces proposal for a "day fighter", the F-84 flew in 1946...

    )
Deployed from: Clovis AFB, New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

  • 452nd Bombardment Wing (Light)
    452d Air Mobility Wing
    The 452d Air Mobility Wing is a United States Air Force air mobility unit located at March ARB, California. It is assigned to Air Force Reserve Command , and is operationally gained by Air Mobility Command .-Mission:...

     (B-26 Invader
    A-26 Invader
    The Douglas A-26 Invader was a United States twin-engined light attack bomber built by the Douglas Aircraft Co. during World War II that also saw service during several of the Cold War's major conflicts...

    )
Deployed from: George AFB, California

  • 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing
    67th Network Warfare Wing
    The 67th Network Warfare Wing , Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, was reactivated October 1, 1993 as the 67th Intelligence Wing. The wing was re-designated the 67th Information Operations Wing on February 1, 2001...

     (RF-80, RF-86, RB-26)
Deployed from: March AFB, California
  • 314th Troop Carrier Wing (Medium)
    314th Airlift Wing
    The 314th Airlift Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force based out of Little Rock Air Force Base in Little Rock, Arkansas.-World War 2 and aftermath:...

     (C-119 Flying Boxcar
    C-119 Flying Boxcar
    The Fairchild C-119 Flying Boxcar was an American military transport aircraft developed from the World War II-era Fairchild C-82 Packet, designed to carry cargo, personnel, litter patients, and mechanized equipment, and to drop cargo and troops by parachute...

    )
Deployed from: Smyrna AFB, Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

  • 403rd Troop Carrier Wing (Medium)
    403d Wing
    403d Wing is a unit of the United States Air Force assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command. It is located at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, and employs a military manning authorization of more than 1,400 reservists, including some 250 full-time air reserve technicians.403d Wing performs...

     (C-119, C-47, C-54)
Portland Airport
Portland International Airport
Portland International Airport is a joint civil-military airport and the largest airport in the U.S. state of Oregon, accounting for 90% of passenger travel and more than 95% of air cargo of the state. It is located within Portland's city limits just south of the Columbia River in Multnomah...

, Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...



United States Air Forces in Europe

Even with the active war in Korea raging, in the early 1950s Europe received a higher priority of air power than Korea by the Truman Administration
Harry S. Truman
Harry S. Truman was the 33rd President of the United States . As President Franklin D. Roosevelt's third vice president and the 34th Vice President of the United States , he succeeded to the presidency on April 12, 1945, when President Roosevelt died less than three months after beginning his...

 and the Department of Defense
United States Department of Defense
The United States Department of Defense is the U.S...

. Deterring the threat of a Communist takeover of Western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...

 was considered more important to the long-term survival of the United States than a Communist victory in Korea.

In September 1950, NATO’s Military Committee had called for an ambitious buildup of conventional forces to meet the Soviets, subsequently reaffirming this position at the February 1952 meeting of the Atlantic Council in Lisbon
Lisbon
Lisbon is the capital city and largest city of Portugal with a population of 545,245 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Lisbon extends beyond the administrative city limits with a population of 3 million on an area of , making it the 9th most populous urban...

 which had established a goal of ultimately fielding 96 divisions in the event of a conventional war in 1954. In support of this, the United States Air Forces in Europe
United States Air Forces in Europe
The United States Air Forces in Europe is the United States Air Force component of U.S. European Command, a Department of Defense unified command, and is one of two Air Force Major Commands outside of the continental United States, the other being the Pacific Air Forces...

 (USAFE), which consisted of 16 wings totaling 2,100 aircraft, was programmed to expand to 28 wings, 22 of them in NATO’s Central Region alone, backed by deployed Strategic Air Command
Strategic Air Command
The Strategic Air Command was both a Major Command of the United States Air Force and a "specified command" of the United States Department of Defense. SAC was the operational establishment in charge of America's land-based strategic bomber aircraft and land-based intercontinental ballistic...

 units sent from CONUS.

The USAF reassigned combat wings from TAC to USAFE during the period from April 1951 through December 1954. These were:
  • 81st Fighter-Interceptor Wing
    81st Training Wing
    The 81st Training Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force and the host wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. The 81st Training Wing has the Air Force’s largest Technical Training Group and trains more than 40,000 students annually...

Reassigned to: RAF Bentwaters
RAF Bentwaters
RAF Bentwaters, now known as Bentwaters Parks, is a former Royal Air Force station about 80 miles NE of London, 10 miles ENE of Ipswich, near Woodbridge, Suffolk in England...

, United Kingdom
  • 47th Bombardment Wing, Light
    47th Flying Training Wing
    The 47th Flying Training Wing is a United States Air Force pilot training wing based at Laughlin Air Force Base, near Del Rio, Texas...

Deployed to: RAF Sculthorpe
RAF Sculthorpe
RAF Sculthorpe is a military training facility for the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence, situated about west of Fakenham in Norfolk, England...

, United Kingdom
(Remained assigned to TAC's 49th Air Division
49th Air Division
The 49th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with the United States Air Forces in Europe, based at RAF Sculthorpe, England. It was inactivated on 1 July 1956.-History:...

)
  • 20th Fighter-Bomber Wing
    20th Fighter Wing
    The 20th Fighter Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force and the host unit at Shaw Air Force Base South Carolina. The wing is assigned to Air Combat Command's Ninth Air Force.-Mission:...

Reassigned to: RAF Wethersfield
RAF Wethersfield
MDPGA Wethersfield is a Ministry of Defence facility in Essex, England; it is located north of the village of Wethersfield—about north-west of the town of Braintree...

, United Kingdom
  • 406th Fighter-Bomber Wing
    406th Air Expeditionary Wing
    The 406th Air Expeditionary Wing is a provisional unit assigned to the United States Air Forces in Europe.The wing was reactivated in early 2003 as a provisional wing to be used as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom , based in Turkey. When Turkey refused to allow its territory to be used as part of...

Reassigned to: RAF Manston
RAF Manston
RAF Manston was an RAF station in the north-east of Kent, at on the Isle of Thanet from 1916 until 1996. The site is now split between a commercial airport Kent International Airport and a continuing military use by the Defence Fire Training and Development Centre , following on from a long...

, United Kingdom
  • 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing
    66th Air Base Wing
    The 66th Air Base Wing is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the Air Force Materiel Command Electronic Systems Center, stationed at Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts...

Reassigned to: Sembach Air Base, West Germany
  • 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing
    10th Air Base Wing
    The 10th Air Base Wing is a non-flying United States Air Force unit that is the host wing for the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.-Components:...

Reassigned to: 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:...

, West Germany
  • 50th Fighter-Bomber Wing
    50th Space Wing
    The 50th Space Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force under the major command of Air Force Space Command . It was activated on 30 January 1992, replacing the 2d Space Wing, which was deactivated on the same date.-Overview:...

Reassigned to: Hahn Air Base
Hahn Air Base
Hahn Air Base was a frontline NATO facility in Germany for over 40 years during the Cold War...

, West Germany
  • 21st Fighter Bomber Wing
    21st Space Wing
    The 21st Space Wing is a unit of the Air Force Space Command based at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. The unit is tasked with the operation of early missile warning and space object detection equipment around the world in support of NORAD and USSTRATCOM through a network of command and control...

Reassigned to: Chambley-Bussieres Air Base
Chambley-Bussieres Air Base
Chambley-Bussières Air Base is a former United States Air Force base in France. It is located in the Meurthe-et-Moselle département of France, about ten miles west of the French city of Metz, and about one mile southwest of Chambley-Bussières, on the south side of the Départemental 901 ...

, France
  • 48th Fighter Bomber Wing
    48th Fighter Wing
    The 48th Fighter Wing is part of the United States Air Force Third Air Force, assigned to HQ Air Command Europe, and is based at RAF Lakenheath, England. The 48 FW is the only F-15 wing based in Europe...

Activated at: Chaumont-Semoutiers Air Base, France
(Replaced ANG 137th Fighter-Bomber Wing)
  • 388th Fighter Bomber Wing
    388th Fighter Wing
    The 388th Fighter Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Combat Command Twelfth Air Force. The unit is stationed at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.-Mission:...

Reassigned to: Etain-Rouvres Air Base
Etain-Rouvres Air Base
Étain - Rouvres Air Base is a former USAF base in France. It is located on the Lorraine Plateau in northeastern France, 1 mile to the west of Étain; on the west side of the Départemental 906 road, adjacent to the village of Rouvres-en-Woevre in the Meuse département about 12 miles east of...

, France
  • 60th Troop Carrier Wing
    60th Air Mobility Wing
    The 60th Air Mobility Wing is the host unit at Travis Air Force Base in California. It is the largest air mobility organization in the United States Air Force and is responsible for strategic airlift and aerial refueling missions around the world...

Reassigned to: Dreux-Louvillier Air Base
Dreux-Louvillier Air Base
Dreux-Louvilliers Air Base is a former United States Air Force base. It is located in the Eure-et-Loir département of France, southwest of Dreux, and about one mile west of Chennevieres; just to the west of the Départemental 20 road.During the Cold War, Dreux-Louvilliers was a front-line base...

, France
  • 465th Troop Carrier Wing
    445th Airlift Wing
    The 445th Airlift Wing is an operational wing of the United States Air Force Reserve. It is headquartered at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, near Dayton, Ohio...

Reassigned to: Toul-Rosières Air Base
Toul-Rosieres Air Base
Toul-Rosières Air Base is a reserve French Air Force base. It is located in the Meurthe-et-Moselle département of France, 10 miles northeast of the city of Toul, on the west side of the Route nationale 411 Highway about one mile southeast of Rosières-en-Haye.Toul Air Base was used by American...

, France
  • 38th Tactical Bombardment Wing (Light)
    38th Combat Support Wing
    The 38th Combat Support Wing is an inactive wing of the United States Air Force. Its last assignment was with Third Air Force , being inactivated on 1 May 2007 at Ramstein Air Base, Germany....

Reassigned to: Laon-Couvron Air Base
Laon-Couvron Air Base
Laon-Couvron Air Base is a former French and United States Air Force base in France. It is located in the Aisne département of France, less than one mile southeast of the village of Couvron and 6 miles northwest of Laon; on the southwest side of the Autoroute des Anglais 1 Mile east of the...

, France


These wings gave USAFE/NATO approximately 500 fighters, 100 light bombers, 100 tactical reconnaissance aircraft, 100 tactical airlift transports, and 18,000 personnel.

Rotational Deployments to Mediterranean Bases

With the phase-out of the B-47 Stratojet
B-47 Stratojet
The Boeing Model 450 B-47 Stratojet was a long-range, six-engined, jet-powered medium bomber built to fly at high subsonic speeds and at high altitudes. It was primarily designed to drop nuclear bombs on the Soviet Union...

 from SAC in the mid-1960s, the need for Strategic Air Command "Reflex" European bases diminished and the Sixteenth Air Force
Sixteenth Air Force
The 16th Air Expeditionary Task Force is a provisional United States Air Force unit assigned to the United States Air Forces in Europe...

 was turned over to the USAFE on 15 April 1966.

Prior to 1966, TAC routinely deployed CONUS-based North American F-100 Super Sabre
F-100 Super Sabre
The North American F-100 Super Sabre was a supersonic jet fighter aircraft that served with the United States Air Force from 1954 to 1971 and with the Air National Guard until 1979. The first of the Century Series collection of USAF jet fighters, it was the first USAF fighter capable of...

 wings to Sixteenth Air Force bases in Spain, as well as to Aviano Air Base
Aviano Air Base
Aviano Air Base is a NATO Air Base under U.S. Air Force administration in northeastern Italy, in Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. It is located in Aviano municipality, at the foot of the Carnic Pre-Alps, or Southern Carnic Alps, about 15 kilometers from Pordenone.-Units:Aviano is hosted by the...

 in Italy. With USAFE taking possession of these bases from SAC, Tactical Air Command reassigned the 401st Tactical Fighter Wing
401st Air Expeditionary Wing
The United States Air Force's 401st Air Expeditionary Wing is an inactive unit of the United States Air Force. Its last assignment was with the Sixteenth Air Force, being stationed at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus...

 from England Air Force Base
England Air Force Base
England Air Force Base is a former United States Air Force base in Louisiana, located Northwest of Alexandria and about Northwest of New Orleans....

, Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 to USAFE on a permanent basis to Torrejon Air Base
Torrejon Air Base
Madrid-Torrejón Airport is a commercial airport in Spain. It is a joint-use facility between the Spanish Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Public Works. The civil part is dedicated primarily to executive and private aviation. The airport is located northeast of Madrid, west of Alcalá de...

, Spain on 27 April to perform host functions at the base. and to support the rotational TDY duty to Italy and Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 for NATO alerts.

However, with the 401st's fighter squadrons deployed to South Vietnam, squadrons from Homestead AFB, Florida and Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

 were utilized to fill the need in Spain. These squadrons remained in Europe until 1970, when the drawdown in Vietnam allowed the squadrons from the 401st, which were deployed to Southest Asia, to rejoin their home unit.

Composite Air Strike Force

In the aftermath of the Korean War, TAC developed the Composite Air Strike Force (CASF) concept, a mobile rapid-deployment strike concept designed to respond to "brush fire" conflicts around the world. A CASF included fighter bomber aircraft for both conventional and nuclear attack missions, as well as troop carrier, tanker, and tactical reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 assets. TAC composite air strike forces were intended to augment existing combat units already in place as part of United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF), or the Alaskan Air Command
Alaskan Air Command
Alaskan Air Command is an inactive United States Air Force Major Command. Established in 1945 under the United States Army Air Forces, its mission was to organize and administer the air defense system of Alaska, exercise direct control of all active measures, and coordinate all passive means of...

 (AAC).

In addition, the new Century Series of TAC fighters were making their first fights, designed from the lessons learned in the air over Korea. As these new fighters and new transport aircraft came on line, there were problems with each one. TAC pilots risked life and limb to iron out the problems and make these aircraft fully operational.

Also, with the development of air refueling, TAC could now flex its muscles and demonstrate true global mobility. Deployments to Europe and the Far East became a way of life for TAC units. When Strategic Air Command abandoned its fighter escort force in 1957, those aircraft were transferred to TAC, further augmenting its strength.

The first deployment of the Composite Air Strike Force took place in July 1958 in response to an imminent coup d'état in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

. TAC scrambled forces across the Atlantic to Turkey, where their presence was intended to force an end to the crisis. A similar CASF was deployed in response to conflicts between China and Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 in 1958.

CASF received another test in 1961, when the Berlin Crisis resulted in TAC quickly deploying 210 aircraft to Europe, consisting of 144 North American F-100D Super Sabres and 54 Lockheed F-104C Starfighters, but also including 6 McDonnell RF-101 Voodoo and 6 Douglas RB-66C Destroyer reconnaissance aircraft. Also as part of the CASF, the Air National Guard subsequently deployed 36 Lockheed F-104A Starfighters, 54 North American F-86H Sabres, and 90 Republic F-84F Thunderstreaks.
In 1961 Robert McNamara organized the United States Strike Command
United States Strike Command
In 1961 the United States Strike Command was established at MacDill Air Force Base as a unified combatant command capable of responding to global crises. The name of the command was originally derived from the acronym for Swift Tactical Reaction In Every Known Environment...

 to integrate CASF efforts with those of the Strategic Army Corps
Strategic Army Corps
The Strategic Army Corps was a command of the United States Army, with a mission of high readiness, active in the 1960s, but later inactivated.-Background:...

.

TAC had gone from a meager postwar force to a force capable of putting the right amount of assets in the right place when they were needed.

Tactical Missiles

In 1949 TAC began testing the B-61, later redesignated as TM-61 (Tactical Missile) Martin MGM-1 Matador
MGM-1 Matador
The Martin MGM-1 Matador was the first operational surface-to-surface cruise missile built by the United States. It was similar in concept to the German V-1, but the Matador included a radio link that allowed in-flight course corrections. This allowed accuracy to be maintained over greatly extended...

 surface-to-surface cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

 at Holloman AFB, NM. The initial flight ended in a crash, but the 2nd launch was successful and outran the chase aircraft. Testing continued with launches of 46 missiles at both Holloman AFB and Cape Canaveral, FL, and in March 1954, the first operational missile squadron in the U.S. Air Force was deployed to Bitburg, Germany, the 1st Pilotless Bomber Squadron. Launches at Holloman and Canaveral continued until 1963. In 1954, another model, the TM-76A Martin CGM-13B Mace began development at Holloman AFB, with its first launch in 1956. The ATRAN (Automatic Terrain Recognition and Navigation) Mace "A" was launched from a mobile translauncher while the inertially guided Mace "B" was launched from a hardened bunker. Both used a solid fuel booster rocket for initial acceleration and an Allison J33 turbojet for flight. The TM-76B, redesignated as CGM-13B remained on alert until 30 April 1969 with the 71st TMS at Bitburg, and until October, 1969 with the 498th TMG at Kadena, Okinawa. As TAC was responsible for training crews that were assigned to both PACAF and USAFE, the only tactical missiles in TAC's inventory were the training missiles of the 4504th MTW at Orlando AFB, FL.

Ninth Air Force (TAC), while headquartered at Shaw AFB, SC, maintained the USAF Tactical Missile School at Orlando AFB, FL, under command of the 4504th Missile Training Wing, from 1956 until 1966, when the MGM-13A was phased out and the remaining CGM-13B was transferred to Lowry AFB, CO.

The U.S. Army had largely assumed the tactical missile program until the 1980s when the General Dynamics BGM-109G "Tomahawk" GLCM
Ground Launched Cruise Missile
The Ground Launched Cruise Missile, or GLCM, was a ground-launched cruise missile developed by the United States Air Force in the last decade of the Cold War.-Overview:...

 was deployed along with the Army's Pershing II missile
Pershing missile
Pershing was a family of solid-fueled two-stage medium-range ballistic missiles designed and built by Martin Marietta to replace the PGM-11 Redstone missile as the United States Army's primary nuclear-capable theater-level weapon. The Pershing systems lasted over 30 years from the first test...

 to counter to the mobile medium- and intermediate- range ballistic nuclear missiles deployed by the Soviet Union in Eastern Bloc.

This entire class of weaponry was eliminated by the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty is a 1987 agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union. Signed in Washington, D.C. by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev on December 8, 1987, it was ratified by the United States Senate on May 27, 1988 and...

 (INF treaty), and thus reducing both the number and the threat of nuclear warheads.

Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cold War took on a frightening phase in October 1962. Routine photo reconnaissance flights over Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

 revealed that the Soviet Union was in the process of placing nuclear missiles on that island. In response the United States let it be known that any use of those missies against any country in the hemisphere would be considered an attack on the United States and a full nuclear response would be the result. The United States and the Soviet Union stood eyeball to eyeball at the brink of nuclear exchange.

Large numbers of Tactical Air Command units were deployed to Homestead AFB, McCoy AFB, MacDill AFB and Patrick AFB in Florida within hours of the call to prepare for movement. Civilian airports in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach also received TAC Units. TAC recon RF-101 "Voodo"
F-101 Voodoo
The McDonnell F-101 Voodoo was a supersonic military jet fighter which served the United States Air Force and the Royal Canadian Air Force...

 aircraft from Shaw AFB were flying over Cuba on a daily basis photographing suspected missile sites and Cuban military bases to keep an eye on what was going on. In some cases the films were flown directly to Washington, D.C. and onto President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

's desk within hours of being taken.

The United States and Soviet Union stepped back from the brink, and the crisis was resolved without armed conflict. Never in the history of the Cold War had we come so very close to mutual nuclear destruction.

Vietnam War

With the Kennedy Administration, there was the onset of low intensity guerrilla wars, and wars of insurgency. During 1963, the situation in South Vietnam
South Vietnam
South Vietnam was a state which governed southern Vietnam until 1975. It received international recognition in 1950 as the "State of Vietnam" and later as the "Republic of Vietnam" . Its capital was Saigon...

 was heating up on a daily basis. More and more "advisors" were being sent to that small country in Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia
Southeast Asia, South-East Asia, South East Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia. The region lies on the intersection of geological plates, with heavy seismic...

.

Special Operations Units

Air Force Special Forces
Special forces
Special forces, or special operations forces are terms used to describe elite military tactical teams trained to perform high-risk dangerous missions that conventional units cannot perform...

 units became part of the command in 1961 when a counter-insurgency force was activated at Eglin AFB, Florida. Aircraft of these units consisted of a combination of propeller-driven World War II-vintage fighters, modified trainers, Douglas B-26 attack bombers and transports. Originally activated as a Combat Crew Training Squadron, the unit was upgraded to a wing and designated as the 1st Air Commando Wing. In 1964 TAC ordered a squadron of specially modified C-130Es to support US Army Special Forces and Central Intelligence Agency teams operating deep inside enemy territory. As the war in Vietnam intensified, additional air commando units were organized in Southeast Asia. In 1968 these units were redesignated as "Special Operations."

Tactical Fighters

In response to what has become known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident
Gulf of Tonkin Incident
The Gulf of Tonkin Incident, or the USS Maddox Incident, are the names given to two incidents, one fabricated, involving North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin...

 in 1964, Tactical Air Command pilots and support personnel found themselves deployed to places like Da Nang
Da Nang International Airport
Da Nang International Airport is located in Da Nang, the largest city in central Vietnam. It is the third international airport in the country, besides Noi Bai International Airport and Tan Son Nhat International Airport , and is an important gateway to access central Vietnam.In addition to its...

, Takhli, Korat
Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base
Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base is a base of the Royal Thai Air Force. It is located in northeast Thailand, located approximately 157 miles northeast of Bangkok and about 5 miles south of Nakhon Ratchasima , the second largest city in Thailand.During the Vietnam War, Korat RTAFB was the...

 and Phan Rang
Phan Rang Air Base
Phan Rang Air Base is a Vietnam People's Air Force military airfield in Vietnam. It is located north-northwest of Phan Rang-Thap Cham in Ninh Thuan Province....

. Initially TAC began deploying squadrons of F-100 Super Sabre, RF-101 Voodoo and F-105 Thunderchief aircraft to Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)
United States Pacific Air Forces
Pacific Air Forces is a Major Command of the United States Air Force. PACAF is also the air component of the United States Pacific Command . PACAF is headquartered at Hickam Air Force Base Hawaii. It is one of two USAF Major Commands assigned outside of the Continental United States, the other...

 bases in South Vietnam and Thailand
Thailand
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...



As the American effort in Southeast Asia increased, TAC used a process of deploying squadrons to PACAF operated bases in South Vietnam and Thailand, with the squadrons being attached temporarily on rotational deployments, or being permanently reassigned to the PACAF wing.

For the next decade, TAC would be consumed by operations in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

, Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 and Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

. On a daily basis, flight crews trained by TAC would hurl themselves and their planes at targets across the area of operations, over the skies of North Vietnam
North Vietnam
The Democratic Republic of Vietnam , was a communist state that ruled the northern half of Vietnam from 1954 until 1976 following the Geneva Conference and laid claim to all of Vietnam from 1945 to 1954 during the First Indochina War, during which they controlled pockets of territory throughout...

. As the command responsible for training aircrews for overseas duty, TAC maintained Readiness Training Units in the United States to train pilots and other aircrew members for fighters, reconnaissance and troop carrier (redesignated tactical airlift after 1 July 1966) squadrons in the Pacific.

Troop Carrier

In December 1964, TAC deployed a squadron of C-123 Provider
C-123 Provider
The C-123 Provider was an American military transport aircraft designed by Chase Aircraft and subsequently built by Fairchild Aircraft for the United States Air Force...

 assault transports from the 464th Troop Carrier Wing
464th Tactical Airlift Wing
The 464th Tactical Airlift Wing was a theater airlift unit of the United States Air Force during the Cold War. It served in the United States under Tactical Air Command between 1953–1971. Its predecessor was the USAAF 464th Bombardment Group of World War II.-World War II:Constituted as 464th...

 at Pope AFB, North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

 to Clark Air Base
Clark Air Base
Clark Air Base is a former United States Air Force base on Luzon Island in the Philippines, located 3 miles west of Angeles City, about 40 miles northwest of Metro Manila. Clark Air Base was an American military facility from 1903 to 1991...

, Philippines, then on to Tan Son Nhut Air Base
Tan Son Nhut Air Base
Tan Son Nhut Air Base was a Republic of Vietnam Air Force facility. It is located near the city of Saigon in southern Vietnam. The United States used it as a major base during the Vietnam War , stationing Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine units there...

, South Vietnam to set up a tactical air cargo transportation system.

To support the increased military strength in Southeast Asia, TAC also began deploying its C-130 equipped troop carrier (later re-designated tactical airlift) squadrons to bases in Okinawa and the Philippines. In late 1965, TAC transferred two C-130 wings and two additional squadrons, a total of eight squadrons, to PACAF's 315th Air Division
315th Air Division
The 315th Air Division is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with Pacific Air Forces, based at Tachikawa Air Base, Japan. It was inactivated in April 1969.-History:...

 for operations in Southeast Asia.

1972 Spring Invasion

In 1970, the war was winding down as the conflict was being Vietnamized. Units from the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF) took on more and more combat to defend their nation and USAF tactical air strength was being reduced as several air bases were turned over to the VNAF.

Bombing of North Vietnam (Operation Rolling Thunder) had ended in 1968, and as a result North Vietnamese forces had built up their air defenses and continued to pour men and equipment into the South via the Ho Chi Minh Trail
Ho Chi Minh trail
The Ho Chi Minh trail was a logistical system that ran from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to the Republic of Vietnam through the neighboring kingdoms of Laos and Cambodia...

. By the beginning of 1972 there were only about 235 USAF tactical combat aircraft in Southeast Asia.

Vietnamization was severely tested by the Easter Offensive of 1972, a massive conventional invasion of South Vietnam by North Vietnamese Army forces in spring 1972. On 30 March 1972 the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) launched an all out invasion of South Vietnam with over 13 divisions, pushing South Vietnamese units aside with little difficulty. President Nixon stepped up air strikes to turn back the invasion, or at least to slow it down.

In response to the invasion, TAC deployed both squadrons and wings to air bases in Thailand. Known units deployed were:
  • Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base
8th Tactical Fighter Squadron, Eglin AFB, Florida (F-4E)
414th Fighter Weapons Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nevada (F-4E)

  • Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base
4th Tactical Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina

  • Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base
49th Tactical Fighter Wing, Holloman AFB, New Mexico(F-4D)


By October 1972, the effect of the air campaign was being felt in North Vietnam. North Vietnamese delegates returned to the bargaining table in Paris to engage in peace talks in a serious manner. Besides the pressure from USAF, USN and USMC tactical fighters, fighter-bombers and fighter aircraft, as well as USAF B-52 bombers, the political climate in Moscow and Peking had changed to encourage the North Vietnamese to agree to a settlement.

Uneasy Peace 1973

On 27 January 1973, the Paris Peace Accords
Paris Peace Accords
The Paris Peace Accords of 1973 intended to establish peace in Vietnam and an end to the Vietnam War, ended direct U.S. military involvement, and temporarily stopped the fighting between North and South Vietnam...

 were signed with an effective date of 28 January 1973. For TAC the war in SEA was almost over. With the official end of hostilities came the long awaited release of American Prisoners of War from inside North Vietnam. The last USAF aircraft left South Vietnam at the end of January 1973, and the final group of Americans was released from North Vietnam on 29 March 1973.

The accords effectively ended United States military operations in North and South Vietnam. Laos and Cambodia, however, were not signatories to the Paris agreement and remained in states of war with their internal rebel
Rebellion
Rebellion, uprising or insurrection, is a refusal of obedience or order. It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors aimed at destroying or replacing an established authority such as a government or a head of state...

 forces.

The United States was helping the Royal Laotian government achieve whatever advantage possible before working out a settlement with the Laotian Communists
Communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

 and their allies. The USAF flew combat sorties over Laos during January and February 1973. On 17 April, the USAF flew its last mission over Laos, working a handful of targets requested by the Laotian government.

In Cambodia there was no peace in 1973. Local Communist insurgents of the Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge
The Khmer Rouge literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan...

 kept up their attacks on the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security,...

, so the Cambodian Government urgently called upon the U.S. for help and the USAF in Thailand was ordered to carry out a massive bombing campaign
Military campaign
In the military sciences, the term military campaign applies to large scale, long duration, significant military strategy plan incorporating a series of inter-related military operations or battles forming a distinct part of a larger conflict often called a war...

 against the insurgents on the outskirts of the city.

The Cambodian Army would attempt to attack Khmer Rouge forces, however the rebels would simply slip away and move somewhere else. This tactic effectively succeeded in wearing down the government forces. In July and August 1973, the Khmer Rouge focused on taking Phanom Penh and other major cities.In addition, it was reported that the Khmer Rouge was utilizing tear gas in its attacks.

Congressional pressure in Washington grew against these bombings, and on 30 June 1973, the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 passed Public law
Public law
Public law is a theory of law governing the relationship between individuals and the state. Under this theory, constitutional law, administrative law and criminal law are sub-divisions of public law...

 PL 93-50 and 93-52, which cut off all funds for combat in Cambodia and all of Indochina effective 15 August 1973. Air strikes by the USAF peaked just before the deadline, as the Cambodian Army engaged a force of about 10,000 Khmer Rouge rebels that encircled Phnom Penh.

The last shot fired in anger in Southeast Asia was by at Tactical Air command A-7D Corsair II of the TAC deployed 354th Tactical Fighter Wing
354th Fighter Wing
The 354th Fighter Wing is a United States Air Force wing that is part of Pacific Air Forces . It is the host wing at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and is assigned to the Eleventh Air Force .-Overview:...

, based at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base over the suburbs of Phnom Penh. By the end of 1975 all Tactical Air Command units were withdrawn from Southeast Asia.

Known TAC units and aircraft deployed to Southeast Asia (1964–1975)

  • 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100) England AFB, LA
  • 4th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-105, F-4) Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
  • 8th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) George AFB, CA
  • 12th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) MacDill Air Force Base
    MacDill Air Force Base
    MacDill Air Force Base is an active United States Air Force base located approximately south-southwest of downtown Tampa, Florida...

    , FL
  • 23d Tactical Fighter Wing (F-105, A-7D) McConnell AFB, KS; England AFB, LA
  • 27th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100) Cannon AFB, NM
  • 31st Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100, F-4) Homestead AFB, FL
  • 33d Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) Eglin AFB, FL
  • 35th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) George AFB, CA
  • 49th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) Holloman AFB, NM
  • 314th Troop Carrier Wing (C-130E) Sewart AFB, Tennessee
  • 347th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-111) Cannon AFB, NM
  • 354th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100, A-7D), Myrtle Beach, AFB SC
  • 355th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-105, A-7D) McConnell AFB KS; Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
  • 366th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100, F-4) Cannon AFB, NM
  • 388th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100, F-4) McConnell AFB, KS

  • 463rd Troop Carrier Wing (C-130B) Langley AFB, VA
  • 474th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100, F-111) Cannon AFB, NM
  • 479th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-4) George AFB, CA
  • 193d Tactical Electronic Warfare Group
    193d Special Operations Wing
    The 193d Special Operations Wing is a special operation unit assigned to the Pennsylvania Air National Guard which flies the EC-130J Commando Solo...

     (EC-121) Olmsted AFB, PA {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...

    }
  • 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (RB/EB-66) Shaw AFB, SC
  • 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (RF-101, RF-4C) Shaw AFB, SC
  • 315th Tactical Airlift Wing (C-130) Smyrna/Sewart AFB, TN
  • 507th Tactical Control Group (O-2) Shaw AFB, SC
  • 552nd Airborne Early Warning & Control Wing
    552d Air Control Wing
    The 552d Air Control Wing is an operational wing of the United States Air Force based at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The wing flies the E-3 Sentry aircraft.-History:...

     (EC-121D) McClellan AFB, CA
  • 553rd Reconnaissance Wing (EC-121R) Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand
  • 29th Troop Carrier Squadron (C-130B) Forbes AFB, KS
  • 41st Troop Carrier Squadron (C-130A) Lockbourne AFB, OH
  • 345th Troop Carrier Squadron (C-130E) Dyess AFB, TX
  • 776th Troop Carrier Squadron (C-130E) Pope AFB, NC

source

Post-Vietnam era

Hard lessons had been learned during the Vietnam War. New methods of projecting global air power had been perfected, and several new types of aircraft were developed as a result of some of the lessons and shortcomings that had been learned in the skies over Hanoi. The first F-15A was delivered to TAC's 1st Tactical Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Virginia in November 1974. Training on the new type began at once. The close air support tank busting A-10 began arriving in March 1977 at Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

, equipping the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing, while the first F-16As were assigned to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah in January 1979.

Red Flag Aggressor training

The 57th Fighter Weapons Wing at Nellis AFB Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

 began giving regular units some of the most intense combat training ever achieved through the Red Flag program, beginning in 1976.

The origin of Red Flag was the unacceptable performance of U.S. Air Force pilots in air combat maneuvering (ACM) (air-to-air combat) during the Vietnam War in comparison to previous wars. Air combat over North Vietnam between 1965 and 1973 led to an overall exchange ratio (ratio of enemy aircraft shot down to the number of own aircraft lost to enemy fighters) of 2.2:1 (for a period of time in June and July 1972 during Operation Linebacker the ratio was less than 1:1).

The Aggressors were originally equipped with readily available T-38
T-38 Talon
The Northrop T-38 Talon is a twin-engine supersonic jet trainer. It was the world's first supersonic trainer and is also the most produced. The T-38 remains in service as of 2011 in air forces throughout the world....

 aircraft loaned from the Air Training Command
Air Training Command
Air Training Command is a former major command of the United States Army Air Forces and United States Air Force. ATC came into being as a redesignation of the Army Air Forces Training Command on July 1, 1946...

 to simulate the Soviet Union's MiG-21
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. It was popularly nicknamed "balalaika", from the aircraft's planform-view resemblance to the Russian stringed musical instrument or ołówek by Polish pilots due to...

. Northrop F-5 Tiger II fighters, painted in color schemes commonly found on Soviet aircraft, were added shortly thereafter and became the mainstay until the F-16 was introduced in the mid/late 1980s.

The Red Flag exercises, conducted in four-to-six cycles a year by the 414th Combat Training Squadron are very realistic aerial war games. The purpose is to train pilots from the U.S., NATO and other allied countries for real combat situations. This includes the use of "enemy" hardware and live ammunition for bombing exercises within the Nellis Air Force Range.

Air defense mission (ADTAC)

As part of a realignment of military assets, the Aerospace Defense Command
Aerospace Defense Command
Aerospace Defense Command is an inactive United States Air Force Major Command. Established in 1946 under the United States Army Air Forces, its mission was to organize and administer the integrated air defense system of the Continental United States , exercise direct control of all active...

 was inactivated as a Major Command on 1 October 1979. All assets of ADC were reassigned to Headquarters, Air Defense, Tactical Air Command (ADTAC). which was established compatible to a Numbered Air Force under TAC. HQ ADTAC remained at Peterson AFB, Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 to direct the transition into TAC, which was eventually moved to Langley AFB in July 1981. In essence, Tactical Air Command became the old Continental Air Command.

Former ADC active-duty Convair F-106A/B "Delta Dart"
F-106 Delta Dart
The Convair F-106 Delta Dart was the primary all-weather interceptor aircraft for the United States Air Force from the 1960s through the 1980s. Designed as the so-called "Ultimate Interceptor", it has proven to be the last dedicated interceptor in USAF service to date...

 squadrons were assigned to TAC under six air divisions (20th, 21st, 23d, 24th, 25th and 26th). ADC Air National Guard squadrons under state control were administratively assigned to TAC though their state ANG control for the air defense mission. On 9 December 1985 these ADTAC AD units were placed under the newly activated First Air Force
First Air Force
The First Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force Air Combat Command . It is headquartered at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida....

 at Langley AFB, VA, which later moved to Tyndall AFB, FL in 1991. This arrangement remained in effect until the last F-106 was retired by the 177th FIG of the New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 Air National Guard and all Regular Air Force and ANG F-101 and F-106 units had transitioned to either the F-4, the F-15 or the F-16.

ADTAC was transferred to Air Combat Command along with the rest of TAC on 1 June 1992.

ADTAC squadrons were:
  • From Aerospace Defense Command (F-106)
    • 5th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
      24th Air Division, Minot AFB, ND
    • 48th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
      20th Air Division, Langley AFB, VA
    • 49th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
      21st Air Division, Griffiss AFB, NY
    • 57th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
      57th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
      The 57th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, also known as "The Black Knights of Keflavik", is an inactive United States Air Force unit. The 57 FIS was last stationed at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland. It was inactivated on 1 March, 1995.-World War II:...

       (F-4C)
      Air Forces Iceland
      85th Group
      The 85th Group is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with United States Air Forces in Europe, assigned to Third Air Force, being stationed at Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland. It was inactivated on 28 June 2006....

      , NAS Keflavik, Iceland
    • 84th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
      26th Air Division, Castle AFB, CA
    • 87th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron
      23d Air Division, K. I. Sawyer AFB, MI
    • 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron
      318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron
      The 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. Its last assignment was with 25th Air Division based at McChord AFB, Washington. The squadron was inactivated on December 7, 1989.-World War II:...


      25th Air Division, McChord AFB, WA

  • Air National Guard
    • 101st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (F-106)
      102d FIW, Massachusetts ANG, Otis AFB
    • 111th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (F-101B/F)
      147th FIG, Texas ANG, Ellington AFB
    • 119th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (F-106)
      177th FIG New Jersey ANG, Atlantic City AP
    • 123d Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (F-101B/F)
      142d FIG, Oregon ANG, Portland AP
    • 136th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (F-101B/F)
      107th FIG, New York ANG, Niagara Falls AP
    • 159th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (F-106)
      125th FIG, Florida ANG, Jacksonville AP/ANGB
    • 171st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (F-106)
      191st FIG, Michigan ANG, Selfridge AFB/ANGB
    • 178th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (F-4D)
      119th FIG, North Dakota ANG, Fargo AP
    • 186th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (F-106)
      120th FIG Montana ANG, Great Falls AP
    • 194th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (F-106)
      144th FIW California ANG, Fresno AP


Operation Eagle Claw

In 1978, the unrest in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 against the monarch Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

 Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

 and his autocratic rule boiled over into a revolution. In January 1979, the Shah fled Iran to exile in Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and Iran was turned into an "Islamic Republic". On 22 October 1979 the Shah was allowed to travel to the United States for medical treatment. This caused widespread anger in Iran. Furious at what was called "evidence of American plotting" by Iranian revolutionaries, the American Embassy in Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

 was taken over with the entire staff became hostages. While the situation was trying to be resolved through diplomatic means no real ground was gained for the release of the hostages. In a bold plan, U.S. military forces were instructed to come up with a plan to go into Iran and get the hostages by force of arms.

In April 1980, TAC air assets were deployed to areas close to Iran to be ready if and when Washington gave the "go". Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Eagle Claw was an American military operation ordered by President Jimmy Carter to attempt to put an end to the Iran hostage crisis by rescuing 52 Americans held captive at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran on 24 April 1980...

 got underway on 24 April 1980 when USAF special operations MC-130 Hercules
C-130 Hercules
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport...

 transport planes and Navy RH-53D Sea Stallion
CH-53 Sea Stallion
The CH-53 Sea Stallion is the most common name for the Sikorsky S-65 family of heavy-lift transport helicopters. Originally developed for use by the United States Marine Corps, it is also in service with Germany, Iran, Israel, and Mexico...

 helicopters with Marine Corps crews deployed to Desert One, a small staging site inside Iran itself.

From the start it appeared that the operation was running into problems. After launching from the USS NIMITZ (CVN-68), an unforeseen low-level sandstorm
Dust storm
A dust / sand storm is a meteorological phenomenon common in arid and semi-arid regions. Dust storms arise when a gust front or other strong wind blows loose sand and dirt from a dry surface. Particles are transported by saltation and suspension, causing soil to move from one place and deposition...

 caused two of eight helicopters to lose their way en route to Desert One, but only after men and equipment had been assembled there. A third helicopter suffered a mechanical failure and was incapable of continuing with the mission. Without enough helicopters to transport men and equipment to Desert Two, the mission was aborted. After the decision to abort the mission was made, one of the helicopters lost control while taking off and crashed into an MC-130. In the ensuing explosion and fire, eight US servicemen were killed: five USAF aircrew in the MC-130, and three USMC aircrew in the RH-53. During the evacuation, six RH-53 helicopters were left behind intact.

The failure of the various services to work together with cohesion forced the establishment of a new multi-service organization. The United States Special Operations Command
United States Special Operations Command
The United States Special Operations Command is the Unified Combatant Command charged with overseeing the various Special Operations Commands of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps of the United States Armed Forces. The command is part of the Department of Defense...

 (USSOCOM) was born and finally established as a joint-service force to coordinate the special operations forces for the Army, Navy and Air Force. In 1987, the USAF established a separate Air Force Special Operations Command
Air Force Special Operations Command
Air Force Special Operations Command is the Special Operations component of the United States Air Force and the US Air Force component command to the United States Special Operations Command , a unified command located at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida...

 (AFSOC) from assets that TAC had transferred to Air Mobility Command
Air Mobility Command
Air Mobility Command is a Major Command of the U.S. Air Force. AMC is headquartered at Scott AFB, Illinois, east of St. Louis....

 (AMC) under AMC's 23rd Air Force in 1984. AFSOC then assumed responsibilities for worldwide deployment of special operations forces and assignment within USSOCOM.

USAF Thunderbirds

In January 1982, a devastating accident during a training flight claimed the lives of four pilots from the USAF Air Demonstration Squadron (USAF ADS), better known as the Thunderbirds
U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds
The Thunderbirds are the air demonstration squadron of the U.S. Air Force , based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas, Nevada. The squadron tours the United States and much of the world, performing aerobatic formation and solo flying in specially marked USAF jet aircraft...

. The Thunderbirds have been part of TAC since they moved to Nellis AFB in the mid-1950s.

While flying T-38As and practicing the 4 plane diamond loop, the formation impacted the ground at high speed, instantly killing all four pilots. The cause of the crash was officially listed by the USAF as the result of pilot error by the Leader, as he misjudged the proper altitude to execute the loop. The other 3 aircraft, following proper procedure, were looking at Lead's aircraft, rather than the ground, and followed Lead into the ground. The airshow season for that year was canceled and it was also decided to equip the group with the Block 15 F-16B Fighting Falcon
F-16 Fighting Falcon
The General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon is a multirole jet fighter aircraft originally developed by General Dynamics for the United States Air Force . Designed as an air superiority day fighter, it evolved into a successful all-weather multirole aircraft. Over 4,400 aircraft have been built since...

 and start over for 1983. In 1992 the squadron was upgraded to the Block 32 F-16C.

Fifth generation jet aircraft

The early 1980s were a transition era for most TAC fighter wings, replacing their fourth generation (McDonnell Douglas F-4, General Dynamics F-111, LTV A-7D) Vietnam-Era aircraft for a new fifth generation (McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle
F-15 Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It is considered among the most successful modern fighters with over 100 aerial combat victories with no losses in dogfights...

, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon and Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II
A-10 Thunderbolt II
The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II is an American single-seat, twin-engine, straight-wing jet aircraft developed by Fairchild-Republic in the early 1970s. The A-10 was designed for a United States Air Force requirement to provide close air support for ground forces by attacking tanks,...

). The F-15A/B and subsequent F-15C/D were designed for the air superiority role, which was not really filled since the North American F-86 Sabre
F-86 Sabre
The North American F-86 Sabre was a transonic jet fighter aircraft. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as America's first swept wing fighter which could counter the similarly-winged Soviet MiG-15 in high speed dogfights over the skies of the Korean War...

 in the 1950s. The F-16 was designed for the fighter-bomber role, replacing the F-4D/Es, while the A-10 was designed to fill the close air support mission of the A-7D.

Although developed and initially deployed in the late 1970s, budgetary constraints limited their deployment into the active-duty forces. The Reagan Administration
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 embarked on a massive overhaul of the United States armed forces and large numbers of these aircraft were ordered and deployed to front line active duty Air Force wings beginning in 1983.

The upgrade was not limited to first line units, as beginning in 1985, Air National Guard (ANG) and Air Force Reserve (AFRES) units also began trading in their Vietnam Era aircraft for newer and more sophisticated weapons systems with F-16A/Bs being allocated to Guard and Reserve units as active-duty Air Force units upgraded to the F-16C/Ds models. F-15A/B models of the 1970s were also provided to ANG squadrons when newer F-15C/D models reached front-line wings. As A-10s replaced A-7Ds, these close air support aircraft, along with newly-produced twin seat A-7Ks were flown many ANG squadrons, training with Army National Guard units in ground support operations. The last A-7D/Ks not being retired until 1993, being replaced in the ANG by F-16C/Ds.

In 1984, a new version of the 1960s General Dynamics F-111
General Dynamics F-111
The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" was a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft that also filled the roles of strategic bomber, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare in its various versions. Developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics, it first entered service in 1967 with the...

 began equipping TAC units. This version was known as the EF-111A Raven
EF-111A Raven
The General Dynamics/Grumman EF-111A Raven was an electronic warfare aircraft designed to replace the B-66 Destroyer in the United States Air Force...

. Loaded with electronic jamming units, the sole purpose of this aircraft was to fly into enemy airspace and confuse enemy radar so that the strike package could follow and get the mission accomplished, replacing the venerable Douglas RB/EB-66
B-66 Destroyer
|-See also:-References:NotesBibliography* Baugher, Joe. USAAC/USAAF/USAF Bomber Aircraft: Third Series of USAAC/USAAF/USAF Bombers, 2001. Retrieved: 27 July 2006....

 of the 1950s and 1960s that served in the Vietnam War.

A new version of the F-15, the F-15E Strike Eagle
F-15E Strike Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle is an all-weather multirole fighter, derived from the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. The F-15E was designed in the 1980s for long-range, high speed interdiction without relying on escort or electronic warfare aircraft. United States Air Force F-15E Strike...

 was also developed to replace the F-111E/F tactical strike aircraft in TAC's arsenal. Developed from the twin-seat F-15B, the Strike Eagle was designed for long-range interdiction of enemy ground targets deep behind enemy lines while concurrently retaining air-to-air combat capability. The first F-15Es were deployed to the 4th Tactical Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base
Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located to the southeast of Goldsboro, North Carolina. The base is named for Navy test pilot Seymour Johnson, a native of Goldsboro...

 North Carolina on 29 December 1988.

Across the Nevada desert skies, there were reports of strange lights in the night skies. Most of these reports were explained as possible UFOs. Most of these reports seem to come from the area around Tonopah
Tonopah, Nevada
Tonopah is a census-designated place located in and the county seat of Nye County, Nevada. It is located at the junction of U.S. Routes 6 and 95 approximately mid-way between Las Vegas and Reno....

, and an area identified on maps as Nellis AFB's Area 51
Area 51
Area 51 is a military base, and a remote detachment of Edwards Air Force Base. It is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States, 83 miles north-northwest of downtown Las Vegas. Situated at its center, on the southern shore of Groom Lake, is a large military airfield...

. The UFO story seemed to hold water, as the USAF radars at Nellis and FAA radars at Las Vegas
Las Vegas metropolitan area
The Las Vegas Valley is the heart of the Las Vegas-Paradise, NV MSA also known as the Las Vegas–Paradise–Henderson MSA which includes all of Clark County, Nevada, and is a metropolitan area in the southern part of the U.S. state of Nevada. The Valley is defined by the Las Vegas Valley landform, a ...

 could not see any aircraft in the area of question.

The strange lights over the Nevada desert were officially recognized in November 1988 when the Department of Defense unveiled the F-117 Nighthawk
F-117 Nighthawk
The Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk was a single-seat, twin-engine stealth ground-attack aircraft formerly operated by the United States Air Force . The F-117A's first flight was in 1981, and it achieved initial operating capability status in October 1983...

 stealth bomber. It is interesting to note that this was a well-kept secret. The first prototype aircraft had first flown in 1981 and one had crashed in June 1984 in the Nevada desert. It took another crash of this aircraft in California in 1988 to finally lift the veil of secrecy. On 9 May 1992, four Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk stealth bombers from the Tonopah Test Range Airport
Tonopah Test Range Airport
Tonopah Test Range Airport , also Senior Trend project site PS-66, is located near the center of the Tonopah Test Range, southeast of Tonopah, Nevada and northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada. It is a major airfield with a runway, instrument approach facilities, and nighttime illumination...

 Nevada, arrived at Holloman AFB, NM and were assigned to the 49th Fighter Wing.

Collapse of the Warsaw Pact

One of the effects of this massive buildup of American military might during the 1980s was pressure inside of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 to match the United States. However, internal pressures inside the Soviet Union for increased freedoms, along with economic pressures led to the loosening of their control in Eastern Europe. In 1989, one by one of these nations in Eastern Europe began to rebel against their Communist governments, leading to the opening of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 in November. The mighty Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 as well as the Soviet Union was crumbling from within.

It was clear that the threat the western democracies faced in Europe was coming to an end as the Soviet Union imploded from within. As a result of the end of Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 tensions the United States began a period of downsizing the military. The Base Realignment and Closure
Base Realignment and Closure
Base Realignment and Closure is a process of the United States federal government directed at the administration and operation of the Armed Forces, used by the United States Department of Defense and Congress to close excess military installations and realign the total asset inventory to reduce...

 (or BRAC) process was developed in an attempt to achieve the government's goal of closing and realigning military installations.

Through the BRAC process, numerous active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve bases and stations were marked for closing and units were deactivated. Some units became what were called "Super Wings", comprising more than one unit and aircraft type, along with several different missions. With all of the cutbacks it seemed that any type of major armed conflict was a thing of the past.

Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm

In 1980, Tactical Air Command units of TAC's Ninth Air Force
Ninth Air Force
The Ninth Air Force is a numbered air force of the United States Air Force's Air Combat Command . It is headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina....

 were allocated to President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

's Rapid Deployment Force
Rapid Deployment Force
A rapid deployment force is a military formation capable of quick deployment of its forces. Such forces typically consist of elite military units and may receive priority in equipment and training to prepare them for their mission....

, 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
United States Central Command
The United States Central Command is a theater-level Unified Combatant Command unit of the U.S. armed forces, established in 1983 under the operational control of the U.S. Secretary of Defense...

 (CENTCOM), focusing on the Middle East. Ninth Air Force provided the aircraft, personnel and materiel to form United States Central Command Air Forces
United States Central Command Air Forces
United States Air Forces Central is a unit of the United States Air Force headquartered at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina...

 (CENTAF), the air power of CENTCOM, which is also headquartered at Shaw AFB as a combined orgnaiztion with 9th Air Force. Starting in 1981, Ninth Air Force aircraft and personnel were deployed to Egypt for BRIGHT STAR exercises.

Without warning, ground forces of Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 invaded Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

 on 2 August 1990. President George H. W. Bush
George H. W. Bush
George Herbert Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 41st President of the United States . He had previously served as the 43rd Vice President of the United States , a congressman, an ambassador, and Director of Central Intelligence.Bush was born in Milton, Massachusetts, to...

 proclaimed that the situation was not tolerable. With that he drew a "line in the sand". The United States took their case to the United Nations. The United Nations in turn condemned the actions or Iraq and proclaimed that they must withdraw. Iraq refused to withdraw from the small country. The United States, now backed by United Nations mandates again told Iraq to withdraw or suffer the results of continued aggression.

In response to the invasion, the largest military buildup since the Vietnam War got underway. By 15 August the 1st TFW had deployed F-15Cs in a fifteen-hour non-stop flight from Langley AFB to Dhahran
Dhahran
Dhahran is a city located in Saudi Arabia's Eastern Province, and is a major administrative center for the Saudi oil industry. Large oil reserves were first identified in the Dhahran area in 1931, and in 1935 Standard Oil of California drilled the first commercially viable oil well...

, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. They were standing alert within hours of their arrival. Operation Desert Shield was underway.

By January 1991, numerous of Tactical Air Command combat squadrons had been deployed as part of Desert Shield. Diplomacy had failed to resolve the situation and Iraq had been given the ultimatum, "get out of Kuwait or suffer the wrath of the United Nations Coalition". Leaders from Iraq proclaimed that if the UN forces crossed into Iraqi territory they would surfer the "Mother or all wars." As the deadline came and passed, there was no movement of Iraqi forces that indicated a pullback.

In the early morning hours of 17 January 1991 anti-aircraft batteries in Baghdad
Baghdad
Baghdad is the capital of Iraq, as well as the coterminous Baghdad Governorate. The population of Baghdad in 2011 is approximately 7,216,040...

 erupted as the first strikes by F-117A Nighthawks hit critical command and control targets in the Iraqi capital. Operation Desert Storm had begun.

During the next few hours, USAF tactical air assets, along with U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, 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...

, French Air Force
French Air Force
The French Air Force , literally Army of the Air) is the air force of the French Armed Forces. It was formed in 1909 as the Service Aéronautique, a service arm of the French Army, then was made an independent military arm in 1933...

, Royal Saudi Air Force
Royal Saudi Air Force
The Royal Saudi Air Force , is the aviation branch of the Saudi Arabian armed forces. The RSAF has developed from a largely defensive military force into one with an advanced offensive capability...

 and Free Kuwait Air Force tactical aircraft, pounded command and control facilities bridges, and other lines of communication. USAF Wild Weasel F-4Gs went after SAM sites like they had in Vietnam, while USAF A-10s hunted Iraqi tanks and troops. In the first three days of the air war, eleven Iraqi aircraft were shot down by F-15Cs.

During the six-week air war any and all Iraqi military assets were targeted by Coalition attack aircraft. The Iraqis responded by launching Soviet-built SCUD
Scud
Scud is a series of tactical ballistic missiles developed by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, and exported widely to other countries. The term comes from the NATO reporting name SS-1 Scud which was attached to the missile by Western intelligence agencies...

 missies. With no accurate guidance system the SCUD missies were very similar to the German V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

 when it came to hitting a specific target. The SCUD went up and returned to earth with a chance of hitting something in the general area that it was pointed at. Classified as a terror weapon, the SCUDs became a top priority for Tactical Air Command aircraft to find the mobile launching sites and destroy them.

The ground war began in late February 1991 and lasted about 100 hours. Tactical Air Command close air support A-10 aircraft supported the ground forces as they had trained in the United States for well over a decade. Military planners and Washington Officials were correct when they proclaimed that the war in the desert would "not be another Viet Nam". Desert Storm would go into the history hooks as one of Tactical Air Command's most shining moments.

Known TAC units and aircraft deployed in Operation Desert Shield/Storm (1990–1991)

  • 4th Tactical Fighter Squadron/388 TFW (F-16C/D) Hill AFB, UT
  • 41st Electronic Combat Squadron /28th Air Division (EC-130H Compass Call) Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ
  • 17th Tactical Fighter Squadron/363 TFW (F-16C/D) Shaw AFB, SC
  • 27th Tactical Fighter Squadron/1 TFW (F-15C/D) Langley AFB, VA
  • 33d Tactical Fighter Squadron/363 TFW (F-16C/D) Shaw AFB, SC
  • 58th Tactical Fighter Squadron/33 TFW (F-15C/D) Eglin AFB, FL
  • 71st Tactical Fighter Squadron/1 TFW (F-15C/D) Langley AFB, VA
  • 74th Tactical Fighter Squadron/23 TFW (A-10A) England AFB, LA
  • 76th Tactical Fighter Squadron/23 TFW (A-10A) England AFB, LA
  • 335th Tactical Fighter Squadron/4 TFW (F-15E) Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
  • 336th Tactical Fighter Squadron/4 TFW (F-15E) Seymour Johnson AFB, NC
  • 353d Tactical Fighter Squadron/354 TFW (A-10A) Myrtle Beach AFB, SC
  • 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron/354 TFW (A-10A) Myrtle Beach AFB, SC
  • 390th Electronic Combat Squadron/366 TFW (EF-111A) Mountain Home AFB, ID
  • 415th Tactical Fighter Squadron/37 TFW (F-117A) Tonopah AP, NV
  • 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron/37 TFW (F-117A) Tonopah AP, NV
  • 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron/388 TFW (F-16C/D) Hill AFB, UT
  • 561st Tactical Fighter Squadron/35 TFW (F-4G) George AFB, CA
  • 963rd Airborne Warning and Control Squadron/552 ACW (E-3B/C) Tinker AFB, OK
  • 964th Airborne Warning and Control Squadron/552 ACW (E-3B/C) Tinker AFB, OK
  • 965th Airborne Warning and Control Squadron/552 ACW (E-3B/C) Tinker AFB, OK
  • 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron/67 TRW (RF-4C) Bergstrom AFB, TX


(Does not include USAF tactical flying units deployed from United States Air Forces in Europe
United States Air Forces in Europe
The United States Air Forces in Europe is the United States Air Force component of U.S. European Command, a Department of Defense unified command, and is one of two Air Force Major Commands outside of the continental United States, the other being the Pacific Air Forces...

)

Air Combat Command

Desert Storm was also the swan song for Tactical Air Command. The planning and execution of the mission was the result of 45 years of TAC being honed into one of the most effective military organizations in history.

Following the 1991 Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 and the end of the Cold War, U.S. military planners perceived a serious blurring between the responsibilities of TAC and SAC. The collapse of the former Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War led senior defense planners to conclude that the structure of the military establishment which had evolved during the Cold War years was not suited to the new world situation. As shown by Desert Shield/Storm, U.S. military forces would increasingly be called upon to participate in smaller-scale regional contingencies and humanitarian operations.

Gen Merrill A. McPeak, Air Force Chief of Staff, envisioned a streamlined Air Force, eliminating superfluous organizational layers. General John M. Loh
John M. Loh
John Michael Loh is a retired four-star general in the United States Air Force who last served as Commander, Air Combat Command from June 1992 to July 1995...

, who served as USAF Vice Chief of Staff before becoming TAC commander on 26 March 1991, was heavily involved in the restructuring decisions.

As a result, in the spring of 1992 the decision was made to merge most SAC and TAC resources, while simultaneously reorganizing the Military Airlift Command
Military Airlift Command
The Military Airlift Command is an inactive United States Air Force Major Command of the USAF which was headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. It was constituted on 1 January 1966 and active until the end of the Cold War, when the Air Force table of organization was revised...

 (MAC).

On 1 June 1992 Tactical Air Command, Strategic Air Command and Military Airlift Command were inactivated, being replaced by two new major commands, Air Combat Command
Air Combat Command
Air Combat Command is a major command of the United States Air Force. ACC is one of ten major commands , reporting to Headquarters, United States Air Force ....

(ACC) and Air Mobility Command (AMC). A brief ceremony at Langley Air Force Base marked the inactivation of TAC and the activation of ACC. General Loh, who had commanded TAC until its inactivation, became the first commander of ACC.

From escorting C-54s into Templehof Air Base during the Berlin Blockade; the cold of Korea; the steaming jungles of Southeast Asia, and to the heat of the desert, the legacy of Tactical Air Command was turned into history.

External links


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