The host wing is the 27th Special Operations Wing (27 SOW) of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), whose mission includes infiltration, exfiltration and re-supply of special operations forces; air refueling of special operations rotary wing and tiltrotor aircraft; and precision fire support. These capabilities support a variety of special operations missions including direct action, unconventional warfare, special reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, personnel recovery, psychological operations and information operations.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the CDP portion of the base has a total area of 5.3 square miles (13.8 km²), of which, 5.3 square miles (13.8 km²) of it is land and 0.19% is water.
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,557 people, 921 households, and 575 families residing on the base. The population density was 481.8 people per square mile (185.9/km²). There were 1,087 housing units at an average density of 204.8/sq mi (79.0/km²). The racial makeup of the residents was 67.97% White, 13.34% African American, 0.70% Native American, 5.71% Asian, 0.31% Pacific Islander, 6.06% from other races, and 5.91% from two or more races. 12.12% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 921 households out of which 37.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 56.9% were married couples living together, 4.2% had a female householder with no husband present, and 37.5% were non-families. 37.4% of all households were made up of individuals and 0.0% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.16 and the average family size was 2.82.
On the base the population was spread out with 20.2% under the age of 18, 52.8% from 18 to 24, 26.2% from 25 to 44, 0.8% from 45 to 64, and 0.0% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females there were 153.4 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 171.4 males.
The median income for a household on the base was $18,465, and the median income for a family was $25,573. Males had a median income of $15,546 versus $14,635 for females. The per capita income for the base was $11,562. 12.0% of the population and 11.5% of families were below the poverty line, including 14.0% of those under the age of 18 and 0.0% of those 65 and older.
The history of the base began in the late 1920s, when a civilian passenger facility, Portair Field, was established on the site. In the 1930s, Portair was renamed Clovis Municipal Airport.
The host unit at Clovis was the 16th Bombardment Operational Wing, a training unit for Consolidated B-24 Liberator bomber crews for Europe, and later becoming a major training/conversion base for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers heading to the Pacific Theater. The 16th Bomb Wing arrived in January 1943. Known USAAF groups assigned to Clovis AAF were:
With the end of the war, plans were made to establish a permanent B-29 presence at Clovis. On 16 April 1945 Clovis was transferred from Second Air Force to Continental Air Command, which was redesignated Strategic Air Command (SAC) on 21 March 1946.
The immediate postwar use of Clovis was a processing center for personnel separating from service. However, by mid-1946, the airfield was placed on reduced operational status due to postwar funding cutbacks and flying activities decreased. On 16 October 1946 the 234th AAFBU was deactivated and on 1 November 1946 the airfield was placed under administrative control of Colorado Springs AAF.
With the establishment of the United States Air Force in September 1947, Clovis was reactivated. The 509th Airdrome Group, Clovis Detachment took over day-to-day responsibilities for the airfield on 16 December 1947. The 509th operated Clovis as a detachment from its Headquarters at Roswell AAF, New Mexico, using the airfield as a deployment facility for the group's B-29s.
Clovis AAF was renamed Clovis Air Force Base on 13 January 1948. However with no funds to host an active SAC bomb wing, Clovis AFB was placed on reserve/standby status on 1 July 1948. Its caretaker unit was the 234th Air Force Base Unit.
Clovis remained on standby status until 12 May 1950 when plans were made to reactivate the facility and station tactical air units at the base due to the advent of the Cold War. The base was assigned as subpost of Reese AFB, Texas on 12 May 1950 while construction ensued to bring the base up to USAF standards. On 1 July 1951, Clovis was assigned to Tactical Air Command (TAC).
The first USAF unit to use Clovis AFB was the Air National Guard's 140th Fighter-Bomber Wing, which arrived in October 1951 after being activated due to the Korean War. The 140th FBW was a composite unit, made up of elements from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming Air National Guard. The wing flew the World War II vintage North American F-51D "Mustang".
During their period of federal service, elements of the 140th FBW took part in Operation Tumbler-Snapper - 1952, a nuclear bomb test in Nevada.
At the end of 1952, the elements of the 140th returned to Air National Guard control in their respective states.
The 140th returned to Cannon in 1968 as the 140th Tactical Fighter Wing. The unit was mobilized in response to North Korea's seizure of the U.S.S. Pueblo and included F-86 fighter squadrons from the Maryland and New York Air National Guards. While at Cannon, the units conducted ground attack training for Air Force pilots. The units were demobilized in December 1968 and returned to their respective states.
The 50th flew the North American F-86F "Sabre", and stayed at the base a few months before transferrnig to Hahn Air Base, West Germany during Operation Fox Able 20 on 10 August 1953. This marked the first mass flight of an entire tactical wing from the U.S. to continental Europe.
The 312th was equipped with the F-86H "Sabre
On 8 November 1954, the 474th Fighter Bomber Group became a second flying component of the 312th FBW. The 474th was transferred to Clovis from Taegu AB, South Korea after fighting in the Korean War. Operational squadrons and colors of the 474th FBG were:
The 474th was also equipped with North American F-86H "Sabre".
Several changes occurred at Clovis AFB in 1957. On 8 June Clovis AFB was renamed Cannon Air Force Base in honor of the late General John K. Cannon, a former commander of Tactical Air Command. In October of the same year, the 474th Fighter Bomber Group was elevated to wing status. With two fighter wings at the base, the 832nd Air Division was activated to oversee their activities.
In addition, in 1957, Cannon AFB became a major training installation for the new North American F-100 “Super-Sabre” pilots. The first F-100D/F aircraft arrived in December 1956 being assigned to the 312th. Later in the year, the 474th also converted.
The F-100 became the principal base aircraft for the next 12 years. From April 1956 to October 1957 the 312th TFW rotated tactical squadrons to either Châteauroux-Déols Air Base or Etain-Rouvres Air Base in France, for six month deployments to NATO. The 312th also furnished units for TAC composite air strike forces in the Far East during 1957 and 1958, deploying F-100s and crews to Taiwan during the 1958 Taiwan Strait Crisis. Also in 1958, F-100s from Cannon deployed to Turkey.
1959 brought organizational changes at Cannon AFB. With the transfer of Bergstrom AFB, Texas to Strategic Air Command, TAC deactivated the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing at Bergstrom and activated it in place at Cannon on 18 February, replacing the 312th TFW which was deactivated in place the same day for reasons of precidence. The 27th TFW, in various designations, has been assigned to Cannon AFB for over 45 years. The operational squadrons of the defunct 312th TFW were redesignated as follows:
Beginning in 1966, the natural aluminum finish of TAC aircraft began to be replaced by the Southeast Asian camouflage motif. In 1968, two digit squadron tail codes appeared on the aircraft for identification purposes. Codes used with the 27th were "CA" for the 427th; "CC" for the 522d and "CD" for the 524th. In 1972, these were standaridized to "CC" for all 27th TFW aircraft.
On 18 July 1967, the 474th TFW converted from F-100s into new General Dynamics F-111A aircraft. The 474th was the first USAF F-111A Wing to receive the F-111. In January 1968, the 474th was transferred to Luke AFB, Arizona, leaving Cannon AFB with the 27th TFW as the sole operational fighter wing. Headquarters 832d Air Division, however, remained at Cannon exercising operational control over several TAC wings (including the reassigned 474th) until its inactivation in 1975.
Units from Cannon deployed the first F-100 squadron to Thailand in 1962-1963, and South Vietnam in 1964. Beginning in 1964 and throughout the Vietnam War years squadrons from the 27th TFW were deployed and detached to Air Force units and bases around the world. The 27th did not recombine as a cohesive wing until 1973.
The 522d and 523d Tactical Fighter Squadrons were assigned to Clark Air Base, Philippines on a rotating basis, deploying to South Vietnam on a rotating basis from 8 August 1964 until 25 November 1965. The 523d replaced the squadron at Clark beginning on 23 November 1965, not returning to Cannon until 31 August 1973.
Other deployments of 27th TFW aircraft and squadrons (481st, 522d, 524th) were to Hahn AB, Germany; Chambley-Bussieres AB, France; Incirlik AB, Turkey; Dhahran AB, Saudi Arabia; Misawa AB, Japan; Kunsan AB, South Korea; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska; and Udon RTAFB, Thailand.
In December 1965, with most of its operational squadrons deployed, the mission of the 27th changed from a Tactical Fighter Wing to a replacement training unit. The 27th Tactical Fighter Wing became the largest such unit in TAC. The 4585th Student Squadron was initially activated on 1 January 1966 to perform this mission. Later, the 4429th Combat Crew Training Squadron was activated on 15 May 1968 as a 2d training squadron, replacing the deployed 523d TFS.
On 1 January 1969 the 4427th Tactical Training Squadron replaced the 4585th SS. The 465th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron replaced the 4429th CCTS on 1 December 1972, arriving from Holloman AFB, New Mexico.
Many F-100 pilots that flew in the Vietnam War were trained at Cannon AFB. From Cannon, the aircrews were transferred to the F-100 bases in South Vietnam - Phù Cát Air Base (37th TFW); Phan Rang AB (35th TFW) and Tuy Hoa AB (31st TFW).
The 27th also trained forward air controllers and air liaison officers in Lockheed T-33 Shooting Stars from 1969 to 1976. The 4468 Tac Control Squadron initially performed this mission in 1969, being replaced by the 609th Tac Control Squadron. The 609th TCS was inacivated on 15 June 1976.
With the withdrawal of the F-100 from Vietnam in 1970, and the phaseout of the aircraft from the active Air Force inventory, the 27th TFW began conversion to the General Dynamics F-111E "Aardvark" in late 1969. This was a several year conversion process, when in July 1972, the last operational active duty Air Force F-100s were transferred from the 27th TFW to the Air National Guard.
The first squadron to receive the F-111E was the 481st TFS, receiving the aircraft on 30 September 1969. In addition, older F-111A models were received in October 1969. The squadron reached initial operational capability with the F-111E in the fall of 1969, and had 29 F-111Es by December. However, several accidents involving wing longerons grounded the aircraft until July 1970.
In October 1971, the 522d TFS received both F-111A and F-111Es, although the last F-100D from the squadron did not depart until 19 July 1972; the 524th TFS began receiving their first F-111A/E on 19 July 1972 as well. As part of the wing's training mission, the 4427th Tactical Fighter Replacement Squadron was activated on 1 October 1971 as an F-111D training unit.
The F-111A and F-111E models were not to remain long at Cannon, being replaced in 1972 with the more advanced F-111D. The F-111Es were sent to RAF Upper Heyford, England and the F-111As being sent to the 474th TFW at Nellis or were converted into EF-111A Raven electronic warfare aircraft.
After the conversion to the F-111D, the operational squadrons of the 27th TFW in 1973 were:
1988 marked the beginning of Cannon’s expansion as a result of decisions made by the Secretary of Defense’s Commission on Base Realignment and Closures (BRAC). The 428th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron formerly of the 474th TFW at Cannon was reactivated with the 27th TFW on 15 December, being equipped with the F-111G. The "G" model was a conversion of the former SAC FB-111A all-weather strategic bombing version of the F-111, which was originally intended as an interim successor to the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress and Convair B-58 Hustler.) These aircraft, less their nuclear delivery capability, were transferred to Cannon following the disbandment of SAC's 509th Bomb Wing at Pease AFB, New Hampshire and the 380th Bomb Wing at Plattsburgh AFB, New York.
The F-111Gs at Cannon were used primarily for training, but were scheduled to be supplanted in the training role by the F-111E. This made the F-111G surplus to USAF requirements, and the F-111G began to be transferred to AMARC for storage in 1991 with the arrival of the "E" models with the 428th TFTS. The last G model was sent to AMARC in 1993.
Personnel of the 27th TFW played a role during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Aircrews and aircraft of the 27th did not deploy to the region, but support personnel and a combat support group element of the wing's 27th Combat Support Group, commanded by Colonel David Benson, deployed to Taif. On 16 January 1991, when the U.S. led coalition force initiated the Desert Storm air campaign against Iraq, the 27th TFW had 325 personnel serving in the Persian Gulf region in combat support roles.
On 1 November 1991, the 27th TFW was re-designated the 27th Fighter Wing as part of an Air Force-wide reorganization. In June 1992, the 27th FW became part of a new major command - Air Combat Command. ACC was created when SAC, TAC, and the Military Airlift Command (MAC) merged to form two commands, ACC and the Air Mobility Command (AMC).
On 1 August 1992, a fifth operational F-111 squadron was added to the 27th FW with the activation of the 429th Electronic Combat Squadron was reactivated at Cannon flying the Grumman EF-111A Raven. The EF-111A was an electronic countermeasures version of the F-111A, developed in the 1970s to replace the Douglas EB-66 Destroyer. The 429th was formerly at Cannon with the 474th TFW. On 22 June 1993 the squadron was redesignated the 430th ECS.
In addition, the 522d, 523d and 524th Fighter Squadrons replaced their F-111D models for the upgraded F-111F model. The F-111F differed from the F-111D in having more advanced electronics which were nevertheless simplified and more reliable, along with improved landing gear.
In 1995, the face of the flightline changed when the wing began its transition from the F-111 to General Dynamics F-16C/D aircraft. The first F-16s to arrive in May were assigned to the 522nd Fighter Squadron. Also transitioning were the 523rd and 524th Fighter Squadrons.
With the arrival of the F-16s, the F-111s were sent to AMARC. The 428th Fighter Squadron was inactivated in September 1995, and the EF-111A-equipped 429th ECS was deactivated in May, 1998 with the 27th Fighter Wing officially holding a retirement ceremony in memorial park. The F-111 in various forms had been at Cannon AFB for 29 years. With their retirement, the 430th ECS was deactivated.
On 15 January 1998, the 524th Fighter Squadron ventured to the desert for their first overseas deployment since transitioning to the F-16. The 522nd Fighter Squadron deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia in direct support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. They flew missions enforcing United Nations Security Council resolutions of a no-fly zone over Southern Iraq. In March, the 523d Fighter Squadron also deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH.
These two 27th FW squadrons were the first F-16 unit to replace Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II units performing close air support. In addition, they were the first F-16 unit to maintain the demanding combat search and rescue alert in Southwest Asia. While deployed to the Gulf region in December 1998, the F-16s from the 522nd Fighter Squadron provided close air support alert, defensive counter air alert and interdiction in Iraq.
In August, 1998, the 524th Fighter Squadron deployed to Hill AFB, Utah for exercise Combat Hammer. During the exercise, they dropped inert GBU-24 Paveway III laser guided bombs and fired live AGM-65 Maverick antitank missiles on Utah test range. The hit rate was one of the highest ever seen in the Air Force, showcasing the lethality of the Block 40 F-16.
In 1998, the governments of the United States and Singapore signed an agreement laying the foundation of the Peace Carvin III program. As a Foreign Military Sales training program for the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), Peace Carvin III was designed for the continued training of RSAF in rapid deployment and tactical employment of the block 52 F-16 C/D throughout a wide spectrum of missions including air to- air, joint maritime and precision air-to-ground weapons delivery.
In support of Peace Carvin III, the 428th Fighter Squadron was reactivated on 15 September 1998 and tasked to take the lead in Peace Carvin III. The squadron was a hybrid of USAF and RSAF F-16 C/D manned by USAF instructor pilots, Singaporean pilots and combined RSAF and USAF teams of maintenance and support personnel.
In May 1999, the 428th Fighter Squadron participated in its first official major exercise after its reactivation. The squadron deployed to Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, for exercise Combat Archer. The exercise was designed to test weapons capabilities, tactics and employment. This included the first live firing of radar-guided air-to air AIM-7 Sparrow by the RSAF.
In July 1999, the 522nd Fighter Squadron deployed to Naval Air Station Keflavik, Iceland, to support NATO exercise Coronet Norsemen. They served primarily as the combat air arm of the Iceland Defense Force. In August 1999, the 523rd Fighter Squadron relieved the 522nd Fighter Squadron from Coronet Norsemen.
During Operation ALLIED FORCE in 1999, the 524th Fighter Squadron was notified for "on-call" duty to augment forces. Quick termination of hostilities precluded the 524th Fighter Squadron from seeing action.
In December 2002, the 524 FS deployed to Kuwait and participated in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, dropping nearly a million pounds of precision guided munitions, more than any other F-16 Block 40 squadron in history.
On 13 May 2005, The Base Realignment and Closure commission recommended that Cannon Air Force Base be closed. However, on 25 August 2005, the BRAC Commission overturned the recommendation that Cannon AFB be closed, but upheld the withdrawal of the base's F-16 fighter aircraft. The Air Force had until 2009 to come up with a new use for Cannon AFB, otherwise the base would be closed in 2010.
On June 20 2006, it was announced that Cannon AFB would transfer from Air Combat Command and become an Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) installation. Initial word was that the 16th Special Operations Wing would transfer from Hurlburt Field, Florida. However, it was subsequently determined that the 27th Fighter Wing would transfer from ACC to AFSOC and become the 27th Special Operations Wing. This action would entail expanding and realigning some aspects of both the 16th Special Operations Wing and Air Force Special Operations Command, also headquartered at Hurlburt Field. This designation means that the base will receive new aircraft to replace the F-16s lost in the BRAC realignment.
According to the Air Force News Service, new airframes, to include the CV-22 Osprey, will likely be assigned to the Hurlburt Field and Duke Field complexes at Eglin AFB, Florida as well as to the new wing at Cannon. Other potential aircraft for Cannon AFB are AC-130U Gunships and the MC-130H Combat Talon II. The final aircraft mix between Cannon and Hurlburt Field has not been finalized.