Holloman Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located six miles (10 km) southwest of the central business district of Alamogordo, a city in Otero County, New Mexico, United States. It is the home of the 49th Fighter Wing (49 FW) of the Air Combat Command (ACC). The base is also a census-designated place (CDP), which had a population of 2,076 at the 2000 census.
The wing deploys combat-ready and mission-support forces supporting Air Expeditionary Force operations, Global War on Terrorism and peacetime contingencies. It trains pilots in the F-117A and the Northrop AT-38B Talon aircraft, and provides support to over 18,000 personnel, to include German Air Force Panavia Tornado and F-4 Phantom II operations.
The 49th Operations Group (OG) supports national security objectives, as directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, by utilizing the Air Force's only F-117A Nighthawk aircraft and in training U.S. Air Force and allied aircrews in F-117A and T-38 transition, instructor and fighter weapons instructor courses. Operational squadrons are:
All F-117A carry the "HO" Tailcode. The Operations Group took over the activities of the deactivated 37th Fighter Wing at Tonopah Test Range Airport when the F-117As were transferred to Holloman in 1993. In addition to the 49th OG, other components of the 49th Fighter Wing are:
In February 2006 the Bush Administration announced that Holloman would cease to be home to the F-117A Nighthawk. This move coincides with an announcement that the F-117 will be removed from service on or about 2008. On 1 March 2006, it was announced by the United States Air Force that Holloman would be the new home of two squadrons of F-22A Raptors.
Squadrons of the group are:
Aircraft of the 46th Test Group carry the tail code "HT".
The German Air Force Tactical Training Center activated at Holloman 1 May 1996 With the activation, 300 German military personnel and 12 Panavia Tornado aircraft joined Team Holloman. German aircrews come to Holloman for approximately three weeks for advanced tactical training and then return to Germany. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) also conducts a Fighter Weapons Instructor Course for the Tornado. Aircrews for this course come to Holloman for about six months.
As of November 2006 there are 650 German military personnel and 25 Tornado aircraft assigned to Holloman AFB.
There are numerous reasons the German Air Force trains at Holloman. The area offers great flying weather and has suitable air space. Other reasons are the proximity of Holloman to the German Air Force Air Defense Center at Fort Bliss, Texas and the centralizing of German aircrew training at a single location. To facilitate this, there is a memorandum of understanding between the two governments.
The U.S. rates Germany among its strongest allies and one of its partners in NATO. The strength of the alliance with Germany, as well as other European partners, was the cornerstone of victory in the Cold War and is the bedrock of what stability endures over most of Europe today.
By offering NATO allies the benefits of available space at Holloman as well as the use of the Southwest's excellent flying weather, the U.S. can help maintain the strength of NATO's forces without the expense of forward-basing U.S. forces in great numbers overseas. On 29 September, 1999 two Luftwaffe Tornados crashed near Marathon Indian Basin, about 15 miles northwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico. The crash details were kept quiet from the American public, as the crash was investigated under Luftwaffe jurisdiction.
In September 2004, Luftwaffe chief of staff, Klaus-Peter Stieglitz announced a reduction in its training program of roughly 20%.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 12.7 square miles (32.8 km²), of which, 12.5 square miles (32.5 km²) of it is land and 0.2 square miles (0.4 km²) of it (1.18%) is water. The area of the airforce base is 59,639 acres (241 km²)
As of the census of 2000, there were 2,076 people, 393 households, and 380 families residing on the base. The population density was 165.7 people per square mile (64.0/km²). There were 427 housing units at an average density of 34.1/sq mi (13.2/km²). The racial makeup of the base was 73.31% White, 13.20% African American, 0.58% Native American, 2.84% Asian, 0.58% Pacific Islander, 6.36% from other races, and 3.13% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 12.43% of the population.
There were 393 households out of which 67.2% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 88.8% were married couples living together, 4.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 3.3% were non-families. 2.8% of all households were made up of individuals and 0.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 3.29 and the average family size was 3.34.
On the base the population was spread out with 25.0% under the age of 18, 37.0% from 18 to 24, 33.9% from 25 to 44, 3.7% from 45 to 64, and 0.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 22 years. For every 100 females there were 152.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 180.4 males.
The median income for a household on the base was $37,206, and the median income for a family was $37,941. Males had a median income of $20,359 versus $15,425 for females. The per capita income for the town was $13,568. About 8.3% of families and 11.1% of the population were below the poverty line, including 16.8% of those under age 18 and none of those age 65 or over.
Holloman Air Force Base was established in 1942 as Alamogordo Air Field six miles west of Alamogordo, New Mexico, it was renamed in 1948 in honor of Col. George Holloman, a native of Rich Square, North Carolina and pioneer of early rocket and pilot-less aircraft research.
On 10 June 1942 Alamogordo Army Air Field (AAF) was established at a site six miles (10 km) west of Alamogordo, New Mexico. Initial plans called for the base to serve as the center for the British Overseas Training program. The British hoped to be able to train their aircrews over the open New Mexico skies. However, everything changed when the Japanese launched a surprise attack against the Hawaiian Islands on 7 December, 1941. The British decided to no longer pursue its overseas training program, and the United States military saw the location as an opportunity to train its own growing military. Construction began at the airfield on 5 February 1942 and forces began to move into Alamogordo Bombing and Gunnery Range on 14 May 1942.
The base was under the command of the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) Second Air Force with its Headquarters at, Colorado Springs, Colorado. The base was equipped with aprons, runways, taxiways and hangars during the summer of 1942 being renamed Alamogordo AAF in June.
From 1942-1945, Alamogordo AAF served as the training grounds for over 20 different groups, flying initially Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses then Consolidated B-24 Liberators. Typically, these groups served at the airfield for several months, training their personnel before heading to combat overseas.
Known USAAF groups which trained at Alamogordo AAF were:
The host support unit at Alamogordo AAF was the 359th Base HQ and Air Base Squadron, activated on 10 June 1942. This was redesignated the 231st AAF Base Unit on 25 March 1944, then 1073d AAF Base Unit on 24 August 1944.
On 16 April 1945 Alamogordo AAF was relieved of its training mission and assigned to Continental Air Forces, and was scheduled to be a permanent B-29 base. However postwar funding cutbacks did not allow an active bomb group to be based at the facility, and the base was temporarily inactivated on 28 February 1946.
After World War II, the future of the base was uncertain. In fact, rumors spread concerning the closure of the site, fueled by the fact that most operations had ceased. However, on 16 March 1947, a new era began when Air Materiel Command announced the airfield would be its primary site for the testing and development of pilotless aircraft, guided missiles, and other research programs.
For the next 25 years the site, which became known as the Holloman Air Development Center, and later the Air Force Missile Development Center, launched many missiles including Tiny Tim (the first Army rocket), Rascal, V-2 rocket, Ryan XQ-2 Drone, Falcon, MGM-13 Mace, MGM-1 Matador, and AGM-45 Shrike.
Resulting from a major reorganization, the 2754th Experimental Wing was activated on 20 September 1949 at Holloman AFB overseeing all research and development projects. On 10 October 1952, the Holloman Air Development Center opened, under the command of Colonel Don R. Ostrander. Holloman Air Force Base wrote its name into the annals of American history in the 1950s and 1960s.
Additionally, Captain Joseph W. Kittinger, Jr., stepped out of an open balloon gondola at 102,800 feet on 16 August 1960, in an attempt to evaluate techniques of high altitude bailout. Capt Kittinger’s jump lasted 13 minutes, reaching a velocity of 614 miles per hour. That jump broke four world records: highest open gondola manned balloon flight, highest balloon flight of any kind, highest bailout, and longest free fall.
On 31 January 1961, HAM, a three-year-old chimpanzee, blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to an altitude of 157 miles inside the Mercury-Redstone 2 capsule as a final check to man-rate a capsule and launch vehicle. HAM thus became the first chimpanzee to go into Outer space.
A final noteworthy event occurred on 29 November 1961, when ENOS, a chimpanzee trained at Holloman’s Aero-Medical (HAM) laboratory, was the first US specimen launched into orbit. ENOS was launched in the Mercury-Atlas 4 capsule that completed two orbits around the earth and was safely recovered three hours, 21 minutes later.
On 8 April 1966 the 4758th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron (DSES) arrived from Biggs AFB Texas. The mission of this squadron was to evaulate aircraft weapons systems and to provide training for air defense units. Aircraft flown by the 4758th DSES were the B-57 Canberra and F-100 Super Sabre. On 31 October 1970 the squadron was merged with the 4677th DSES at Tyndall AFB Florida.
On 1 August 1970, per Air Force Systems Command Special Order G-94, the AFMDC was deactivated and Tactical Air Command assumed host responsibilities for Holloman Air Force Base. Associate units and programs transferred to other locations within Air Force Systems Command. The Test & Evaluation activities that remained were the Central Inertial Guidance Test Facility (CIGTF), the High Speed Test Track, the Radar Target Scatter Facility (RATSCAT), and the Target Drone Facility.
These organizations were combined to form the nucleus of a Holloman AFB tenant organization, the 6585th Test Group, with the Air Force Special Weapons Center (AFSWC) at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, designated as the headquarters for the Test Group.
In 1975, AFSWC was disestablished, and the 6585th Test Group at Holloman became part of the Armament Development and Test Center (ADTC) at Eglin AFB Florida. They were later renamed the Armament Division (AD). From 1 October 1993 under the objective wing reorganization, the Air Division at Eglin AFB became the Air Armament Center (AAC).
In 1986, a contract was awarded to Flight Systems Inc. (later Honeywell) to modify 194 surplus Convair F-106 Delta Dart aircraft stored at Davis-Monthan AFB Arizona to the QF-106A target drone configuration. This program came to be known as Pacer Six, and the first flight of a converted drone took place in July 1987. Following the completion of an initial batch of ten QF-106s in 1990, most of the work was transferred to the USAF itself. Much of the conversion work was done before the aircraft were removed from storage at AMARC, with further work being carried out at East St Louis, Illinois.
The QF-106s began operating as a Full-Scale Aerial Target (FSAT) in late 1991 at White Sands Missile Range New Mexico, and later at the Eglin Gulf Test Range in Florida (based at Holloman and Tyndall). A typical mission would employ the QF-106 as a target for an infrared homing missile. The aircraft had burners placed on pylons underneath the wings to act as IR sources for heat-seeking missiles, but it must be admitted that no real enemy would be so accommodating as to add these burners to make their planes better targets. However, the intention of the program was for the QF-106 to survive repeated engagements with air-to-air missiles, to make it possible for each QF-106 to last as long as possible before it was destroyed. The last shootdown of a QF-106 (57-2524) took place at Holloman AFB on 20 February 1997. Today, the QF-106 has been replaced by QF-4 Phantom drones
Today, the 46th Test Group from Eglin Air Force Base Florida is responsible for operational testing and evaluation of new equipment and systems proposed for use by these forces. Current initiatives include advanced self-protection systems for combat aircraft, aircrew life support systems, aerial reconnaissance improvements, new armament and weapons delivery systems, and improved maintenance equipment and logistics support.
366th TFW was organized as follows:
At the time of the wing's arrival at Holloman, they flew the Republic F-84F Thunderstreak, which were former Air National Guard aircraft transferred to France during the 1961 Berlin Crisis as part of Operation Tack Hammer. At Holloman, the wing began converting to the new McDonnell Douglas F-4C Phantom II in February 1965.
On 20 March 1966 the rest of the wing entered the conflict and moved to Phan Rang AB, Republic of Vietnam in support of combat operations in Vietnam. With the transfer of the 366th to Vietnam, the 6583d Air Base Group became the host unit at Holloman.
On 1 July 1968, the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing arrived at Holloman Air Force Base from Spangdahlem AB West Germany, becoming the first dual-based tactical fighter wing. The 6583d Air Base Group was deactivated in place.
Under the dual-basing concept, the 49th, stationed at Holloman, deployed individual squadrons periodically to Europe, fulfilling their NATO commitment. The operational squadrons of the 49th TFW upon its arrival were:
All three squadrons flew the McDonnell Douglas F-4D Phantom II. In 1972 squadron aircraft tail codes were standardized on "HO".
In 1969, the wing participated in its first dual-basing exercise, Crested Cap I, deploying 2,000 personnel and 72 aircraft to NATO bases in Europe. Also in 1969, the 49th earned the coveted MacKay Trophy for the "most meritorious flight of the year," for the redeployment from Germany to Holloman after Crested Cap II. The MacKay Trophy recognized the 49th for the fastest non-stop deployment of jet aircraft accomplished by a wing's entire fleet.
In May 1972 the 49th deployed their F-4 aircraft and 2,600 personnel to Takhli RTAFB Thailand. During this deployment the 49th flew more than 21,000 combat hours over just about every battle zone from An Loc to vital installations in the Hanoi vicinity. During five months of combat, the wing did not lose any aircraft or personnel -- a testament to the outstanding training and proficiency of all members of the 49th. The unit received an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device for its participation. The 49th TFW officially closed out its Southeast Asia duty on 9 October 1972, turning over Takhli to a former host unit at Holloman, the 366th TFW which was transferred from Da Nang Air Base South Vietnam.
F-15 Eagle Era
History was made during February 1980, when two pilots from the 49th each flew their F-15s, 6,200 miles in just over 14 hours, establishing a record for the longest flight of a single-seat fighter aircraft. The flights required six aerial refuelings, proving the global power of the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing.
In July 1980, the wing acquired the commitment of a primary Rapid Deployment Force unit. This tasking, which lasted for a year, required the wing to be ready to deploy its aircraft, crews, and support personnel on short notice. The wing served with the Rapid Deployment Force until July 1981, when the tasking was transferred to the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing, Langley Air Force Base Virginia.
The 49th demonstrated its capabilities in the fall of 1988, winning top honors at the William Tell air-to-air weapons competition. The wing outdistanced the nearest competitor by more than 2,000 points. The 49th won a variety of awards, including the coveted "Top Gun" for best fighter pilot.
F-117 Nighthawk Era
On 1 November 1991, the 7th Fighter Squadron ceased F-15 operations, performing a Lead-In Fighter Training (LIFT) mission with Northrup AT-38B Talons, preparing for the transition to the Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk. during most of 1992.
The 9th Fighter Squadron ceased F-15 operations on 5 June 1992 and received F-4E aircraft from the 20th Fighter Squadron from the deactivating George AFB California as the Fighter Training Unit for the German Air Force.
On 9 May 1992, four Lockheed F-117A Nighthawk stealth fighters from the Tonopah Test Range Airport Nevada, arrived at Holloman. The 37th Tactical Fighter Wing at Tonopah was deactivated with the transfer of the last F-117s to Holloman on 8 July 1992.
F-117s were initially assigned to the following squadrons:
These squadrons were PCS (moved Permanent Change Of Station) to Holloman as part of the 37th Operations Group on 15 June 1992. The formal transfer to the 49th Operations group occoured on 8 July 1992 when the 37th OG was deactivated. In 1993 these squadrons were inactivated with assets transferred to the 7th, 8th and 9th Fighter Squadrons. The 7th being designated a combat training squadron, the 8th and 9th being deployable operational fighter squadrons.
On 1 July 1993, the 20th Fighter Squadron was activated as part of the 49th Operations Group, taking over the F-4Es of the 9th FS. The mission of the 20th FS was to conduct training with the German Air Force. The F-4Es which the 20th FS flew initially were USAF-owned aircraft, however in 1997 the squadron began flying German-owned F-4F aircraft. The F-4Fs, however flew in USAF markings. The 20th Fighter Squadron was inactivated on 20 December 2004 and the F-4Fs sent to Germany.
The 48th Rescue Squadron served at Holloman AFB on 1 May 1993 with its six Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters. The personnel of the 48th deployed six times in support of Operations Northern and Southern Watch. Additionally, the 48th saved 33 lives in real-world rescues in the American Southwest. The unit was inactivated on 1 February 1999.
The 8th and 9th Fighter Squadrons deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy and Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany from 21 February-1 July 1999, in support of Operation Allied Force. Flying more than 1,000 total sorties, pilots flew into heavily defended skies, littered with surface-to-air missiles and anti-aircraft fire. In particular, F-117A pilots bravely trusting in their aircraft's low observable technology struck some of the most valuable, and highly guarded targets in Serbia. The F-117s penetrated the heavily defended areas, which conventional aircraft could not reach, and at least two aircraft were lost.
Global War On Terror
People, airplanes, and equipment of the 49th Fighter Wing played a key role in the continued global war against terrorism and particularly in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The wing's F-117s played a major role, dropping the first bombs against an Iraqi leadership target in Baghdad on 19 March 2003. In all, F-117 pilots flew more than 80 missions and dropped nearly 100 enhanced guided bomb units against key targets.
Approximately 300 people deployed with the air package and provided direct support to the F-117 mission. Additionally, hundreds of other 49th FW personnel were deployed on other missions.
All 479th TTW aircraft carried the "HM" tail code. The LIFT program was sharply cut back in 1991, and the wing replaced by the 479th Fighter Group at Holloman, with the aircraft being consolidated under the 586th Flight Training Squadron.
Past aircraft flown at Holloman AFB: B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-29 Superfortress, B-57 Canberra, P-47 Thunderbolt, AT-38B Talon, F-4C/D/F Phantom II, F-15A/B Eagle, F-84 Thunderjet, F-100 Super Sabre, F-117A Nighthawk, HH-60G Pave Hawk, QF-106.
Holloman is the alleged site of an April, 1963 landing of an extraterrestrial craft and subsequent meeting between aliens and base officials.