Entrance to Barksdale Air Force Base B-52H bomber at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana
Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB) is a United States Air Force base located approximately east-southeast of Bossier City, Louisiana.
The host unit at Barksdale is the 2d Bomb Wing (2 BW), the oldest Bomb Wing in the Air Force. It is assigned to the Air Force Global Strike Command's (AFGSC) Eighth Air Force (8 AF). The 2 BW is equipped with the B-52H Stratofortress bomber, and provides flexible, responsive, global combat capability, autonomously or in concert with other forces, and trains all Air Force Global Strike Command and Air Force Reserve Command B-52 crews.
Barksdale AFB was established in 1932 as Barksdale Field and is named for World War I aviator and test pilot 2nd Lieutenant Eugene Hoy Barksdale (1896 1926).
The 2d Bomb Wing conducts the primary mission of Barksdale Air Force Base, La., with three squadrons of B-52H Stratofortress bombers - the 11th Bomb Squadron, which is the training squadron, the 20th Bomb Squadron and the 96th Bomb Squadron. Together they ensure the 2d Bomb Wing provides flexible, responsive, global combat capability, autonomously or in concert with other forces, and trains all active-duty and reserve B-52 crews.
The 2d Bomb Wing was assigned to the Air Force Global Strike Command on February 1, 2010. Air Force Global Strike Command provides combat ready forces to conduct strategic nuclear deterrence and global strike operations in support of combatant commanders. More than 15,000 active-duty, Air Force Reserve members and civilians make up Barksdale's workforce. About 44 B-52 Stratofortress aircraft are also assigned to the wing.
Units at Barksdale include the oldest bomb wing in the Air Force, the 2d Bomb Wing (2 BW). The 2d participated in Brig Gen Billy Mitchell's 1921 off-shore bombing test (as the 2nd Bomb Group).F
Components of the 2d Bomb Wing are:
2d Operations Group (Tail Code: "LA")
- 11th Bomb Squadron (B-52H) "Mr. Jiggs", Gold Tail Stripe
- 20th Bomb Squadron (B-52H) "Buccaneers", Blue Tail Stripe
- 96th Bomb Squadron (B-52H) "Devil's Own",Red Tail Stripe
- 2d Operations Support Squadron
- 2d Mission Support Group
- 2d Maintenance Group
- 2d Medical Group
The commander of the 2d Bomb Wing is Col. Tim Fay. He also functions as the installation commander of Barksdale Air Force Base. The vice commander is Col. Tom Hesterman.
Other assigned units at Barksdale are:
- Air Force Global Strike Command
- Headquarters, Eighth Air Force
307th Bomb Wing (Air Force Reserve Command) (Tail Code: "BD")
- 93d Bomb Squadron (B-52H) "Indian Outlaws", Blue/Gold Chex Tail Stripe
- 343d Bomb Squadron (B-52H)
917th Fighter Group (Air Force Reserve Command) (Tail Code: "BD")
- 47th Fighter Squadron (A-10A) "Dogpatchers", Green/Blue Chex Tail Stripe
- 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron
- Det 13 ACC TRSS
- 8th Information Warfare Flight
- 26th Operational Weather Squadron
The base is closed to the public. However, the base is home to the Eighth Air Force Museum, which hosts static displays of numerous aircraft including a Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan bomber, B-24, B-17, P-51, SR-71, F-111, and multiple versions of the B-52. There is an annual open house when non-DoD visitors are allowed. Visitors may also tour the museum from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except official holidays.
Barksdale Field was named in honor of 2nd Lieutenant Eugene Hoy Barksdale (1895 1926) on February 2, 1933. Lieutenant Barksdale received his wings in Great Britain in 1918 and flew with the British during World War I. Barksdale died on August 11, 1926 over McCook Field near Dayton, Ohio when testing a Douglas O-2 observation airplane for spin characteristics. He did not recover from a flat spin while parachuting out of the plane, and his parachute was caught in the wing's brace wires, causing Barksdale to fall to his death. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
The name of the airfield was changed to Barksdale Air Force Base on February 13, 1948 concurrent with the establishment of the United States Air Force as a separate military branch.
Airships were still in use when field construction began, so Hangars One and Two were built large enough to accommodate them. No airships were ever assigned, but each hangar was large enough to accommodate two B-52 aircraft wingtip to wingtip, which proved invaluable for Big Belly and Pacer Plank modifications managed by Boeing's Wichita plant between 1965 and 1973. For more information on the modifications, see B-52 missions from U-Tapao. Half of the B-52Fs mentioned were deployed from Barksdale, but never returned as they were replaced by B-52Gs after the Vietnam War.
As early as 1924 the citizens of Shreveport became interested in hosting a military flying field. In 1926 Shreveport citizens learned that the 3rd Attack Wing stationed at Fort Crocket, Texas, would be enlarged by 500 percent and would require at least to support aerial gunnery and a bombing range. In February 1928, a delegation of prominent Shreveport citizens hired a young crop duster, an Air Corps captain named Harold Ross Harris, to fly over the local area and find a suitable site for an airfield.
Captain Harris selected what he felt was an adequate location for a military airfield. It was a sprawling section of cotton plantation near Bossier City, La. The site selection committee, representing the wealthiest taxpayers in the city, unanimously agreed upon the Barksdale Field location. A delegation of citizens traveled to Washington, D.C., to personally present the advantages of the proposed site to the War Department. Following the return of this delegation, a special Army board visited Shreveport and reported the location met all requirements of the Air Corps.
Shreveport was selected December 5, 1928 as the location of the airfield.
Construction of Barksdale Field began in 1931, when hangars, runways, and billets were built. Early flying operations began on November 7, 1932 with the arrival of the 20th Pursuit Group and its three pursuit squadrons equipped with the Boeing P-12 and P-26 Peashooter. The airfield was officially opened and dedicated on February 2, 1933.
By the mid-1930s, Barksdale Field was the headquarters and main base of the 3rd Attack Wing, equipped with the Curtiss A-12 and Northrop A-17. The airfield was used by both fighter and attack pilots to hone their gunnery and bombing skills. Additional barracks were constructed 1936 1937, and light bombers replaced pursuit and attack aircraft.
World War II
Barksdale was developed as an Air Corps flying school November 1940 and the runway apron was completed mid-1941. Between May 23 and 25, 1940, Barksdale Field was host to the Army's "complete military maneuvers" simulating European combat operations. Some 320 aircraft from throughout the Army Air Corps participated, as Major General Dwight D. Eisenhower watched. General George C. Marshall, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, also briefly visited Barksdale Field during the latter stages of the maneuvers.
During World War II, the airfield trained replacement crews and entire units between 1942 and 1945. Known units that trained at Barksdale were:
- 27th Bombardment Group (Light) February 1, 1940 October 7, 1940 (Douglas A-24 Dauntless)
- 8th Pursuit Group September 5, 1941 October 7, 1941 (Curtiss P-40 Warhawk)
- 46th Bombardment Group (Light) February 2, 1942 April 1, 1942 (Douglas A-20 Havoc)
- 44th Bombardment Group (Heavy) February 1942 July 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)
- 98th Bombardment Group (Heavy) February 1942 March 30, 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)
- 92nd Bombardment Group (Heavy) March 1, 1942 March 26, 1942 (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress)
- 93rd Bombardment Group (Heavy) March 1, 1942 May 15, 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)
- 90th Bombardment Group (Heavy) May 17, 1942 June 21, 1942 (Consolidated B-24 Liberator)
- 17th Bombardment Group (Medium) June 23, 1942 November 1942 (Martin B-26 Marauder)
- 95th Bombardment Group (Heavy) June 15, 1942 June 26, 1942 (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress)
- 100th Bombardment Group (Heavy) June 18, 1942 June 26, 1942 (Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress)
- 319th Bombardment Group (Medium) June 26, 1942 August 8, 1942 (Martin B-26 Marauder)
- 321st Bombardment Group (Medium) June 26, 1942 August 1, 1942 (North American B-25 Michell)
The 335th Bombardment Group (Medium) took over training duties as a permanent Operational Training Unit (OTU) on July 17, 1942 with Martin B-26 Marauders. On May 1, 1944, the 335th was replaced by the 331st Army Air Force (AAF) Base Unit as the OTU, being subsequently replaced by the 2621st AAF Base Unit on December 1, 1945. The 2621st provided pilot training until September 26, 1947 when it was inactivated and replaced by the 2621st Air Force Base Unit.
Also during World War II Barksdale played host to the major contingent of the Free French Air Forces and Nationalist Chinese aircrews.
Barksdale Field was renamed Barksdale Air Force Base on January 13, 1948 with the designation of the United States Air Force as a separate service in 1947.
In the postwar year of the 1940s, Barksdale then became headquarters for the Air Training Command from 1945 to 1949. The 47th Bombardment Wing, Light, equipped first with the Douglas B-26 Invader was assigned on November 19, 1948 from Biggs Field for transitioning to the North American B-45 Tornado. The B-45 was the United States Air Force's first operational jet bomber, and the first jet aircraft to be refueled in the air. The first B-45As began arriving in December 1948, with the wing accepting 96 aircraft by March 1950.
Due to budget reductions in the B-45 program, the Air Force planned to inactivate the 47th Bomb Wing and transfer its B-45s and personnel to Yokota AB, Japan so Far East Air Forces could benefit from the know-how gained by the 47th at Barksdale. However the costs of moving the aircraft to Japan were substantial, as the range of the B-45 was insufficient to fly from California to Hawaii, and the aircraft could not be equipped with external fuel tanks. Initial use of the B-45 at Barksdale also showed that the aircraft was not truly operational, with ineffective fire control and bombing systems along with structural weaknesses developing on the aircraft already in use. In addition, each engine had to be inspected after only 7 hours of use. If found serviceable, it could be only flown another 7 hours before a total overhaul was necessary. It was determined that the aircraft simply could not be deployed overseas and put into operational use. It took almost two years until Air Materiel Command could work out these issues and have the 47th Bomb Wing's aircraft ready for operational use.
The 47th Bomb Wing was assigned to NATO and was reassigned first to Langley AFB in March 1951, then afterwards to RAF Sculthorpe, England, arriving in the UK on May 1, 1951. With the departure of the 47th, Barksdale phased out bomber crew training.
U.S. Representative Joe D. Waggonner, Jr., worked successfully to keep Barksdale open during his time in Congress. Through his efforts, Barksdale survived base closures that occurred elsewhere across the nation http://www.govtrack.us/congress/record.xpd?id=110-s20071016-22.
On November 1, 1949, Barksdale was reassigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC), and became home of Headquarters Second Air Force. Barksdale remained a SAC base for nearly the next half-century. However, with the change of commands, the mission of Barksdale initially remained that of a training base where units were formed and organized, then were reassigned to front-line operational bases.
91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing
91 SRW North American RB-45C Tornado AF Ser. No. 48-0039 being refueled by a 91 SRW Bell-Atlanta B-29B-45-BA Superfortress AF Ser. No. 44-83927 (in KB-29P configuration) The first SAC unit at Barksdale was the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was reassigned to the base from McGuire AFB on October 1. The mission of the 91st was to provide global strategic reconnaissance, with emphasis on aerial photography and mapping.
The 91st was equipped with a myriad of aircraft, including versions of the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress (RB/TRB-17); B-29 Superfortress, (RB/TB/TRB-29); Douglas C-54 Skymaster (RC-54); B-50 Superfortress (B/RB-50), and the RB-45 Tornado.
The 91st maintained operational detachments of aircraft and crews drawn from several components to provide reconnaissance support in overseas areas, including the United Kingdom and locations in North Africa. Deployments would be routine and last for periods of about three months.
When the Korean War broke out in 1950, a three-plane detachment from the wing flew to Johnson Air Base, Japan to provide the Far East Air Forces commander improved reconnaissance capability. The 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron remained in Japan for the duration of the war and flew reconnaissance missions over North Korea and the Sea of Japan. The wing also sent a detachment of RB-29 refueling aircraft, and conducted the first aerial refueling under combat conditions when a KB-29P refueled an RC-45C over North Korea in July 1951
With the arrival of the 376th Bomb wing in October, 1951, the decision was made to reassign the 91st. On June 16, 1952 the 91st was reassigned to Lockbourne AFB, Ohio.
301st Bombardment Wing
Boeing B-47A Stratojet AF Serial No. 49-1902 refueled by Boeing KC-97 The 301st Bombardment Wing joined the 91st SRW at Barksdale on November 7, 1949, being transferred from Smoky Hill AFB, Kansas, where it was reactivated the year before. Both wings operated a joint integrated headquarters although each wing continued tactical operations independently.
Initially flying the B-29, after arriving at Barksdale the 301st was one of the first units to conduct aerial refueling operations with the KB-29 tanker version of the Superfortress. The wing converted to the sleek new Boeing B-47 Stratojet in 1953 and traded in its KB-29 tankers for the upgraded Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker.
The mission of the 301st was to train for strategic bombing missions and to conduct aerial refueling. The wing deployed to England in 1953 and to French Morocco in 1954.
It was reassigned to Lockbourne AFB, Ohio on April 15, 1958 where it became an Electronic Countermeasures (ECM) unit and was engaged in various clandestine intelligence missions.
To provide air defense of the base, United States Army established the Barksdale Defense Area in 1959 and constructed Nike-Hercules Surface-to-air missile sites for air defense. Sites were located near Bellevue (N.E. of Shreveport) (BD-10 , and Stonewall (BD-50) Louisiana. They were operational between November 1960 and March 1966 when they were inactivated as part of the reduction of the air defenses in the United States against aircraft.
376th Bombardment Wing
On October 10, 1951 the 376th Bombardment Wing was reassigned to Barksdale from Forbes AFB Kansas. Initially equipped with obsolescent B-29s, the wing upgraded to the B-47 in 1953 and engaged in ECM operations, which became the wing's primary mission in September 1953. The 376th began EB-47s from 1954.
The wing was reassigned to Lockbourne AFB on December 1, 1957 where it replaced and absorbed the personnel and assets of the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing and was redesignated the 376th Bombardment Wing (electronics countermeasures), flying EB-47E's.
4238th Strategic Wing
Following the transfer 301st and 378th Bomb Wings in 1957 and 1958 respectively, Barksdale was slated to receive Boeing's newest pair of strategic aircraft: the B-52 Stratofortress and the KC-135 Stratotanker. The mission of Barksdale was also changed from being a SAC training base to a front-line operational base.
It received its new aircraft and mission in the form of the 4238th Strategic Wing which was a derivative of the 7th Bomb Wing from Carswell AFB, Texas. The 4238th was equipped with the B-52F and KC-135A strategic tankers that were assigned to Barksdale. Its units consisted of the 436th Bomb Squadron and 913th Air Refueling squadron.
It was assigned to Barksdale on May 3, 1958 as part of SAC's plan to disburse its big bombers over a larger number of bases, thus making it more difficult for the Soviet Union to knock out the entire fleet with a surprise first strike. The 436th Bomb Squadron consisted of 15 aircraft. Half of the planes were maintained on fifteen minute alert, fully fueled, armed, and ready for combat. The remaining planes were used for training in bombardment missions and air refueling operations.
1st Combat Evaluation Group
The 1st Combat Evaluation Group (1CEVG) was activated on August 1, 1961 as an independent unit reporting directly to the Deputy Commander of Operations, Strategic Air Command Headquarters, Offutt AFB, Nebraska, to provide command level standardization/evaluation of SAC aircrews, radar scoring of simulated bombing activity by SAC aircraft; and contingency warfare support of ground directed bombing, with detachments in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. 1CEVG was re-designated the 99 Electronic Combat Range Group (99ECRG) in 1990 and was disbanded in 1995.
2d Bombardment Wing
Boeing B-52H-160-BW AF Serial No. 60-0062 of the 20th Bomb Squadron The 4238th Strategic Wing was phased out on April 1, 1963. The 2d Bombardment Wing, Heavy was reassigned without equipment or personnel to Barksdale from Hunter AFB, Georgia. taking over the B-52 and KC-135 mission from the 4238th Strategic Wing. The aircraft and crews remained at the base, but the wing (and its bomb squadron) were given new designations, the 20th Bombardment Squadron and 913th Air Refueling squadron.
The 2d Bomb Wing under various designations, has been the host unit at Barksdale for over 40 years.
The 20th retained the B-52Fs until being transferred in June 1965 to the 7th Bomb Wing at Carswell AFB. It was replaced by the 62d Bomb Squadron, which flew the B-52G which was reassigned from the deactivating 39th Bomb Wing at Eglin AFB, Florida. A second "G" squadron, the 596th Bomb Squadron was reassigned to Barksdale in April 1968 from the 397th Bomb Wing at Dow AFB, Maine.
From 1965 and into the 1970s, the 2d Bomb Wing prepared for the day when they would deploy to Southeast Asia for "Arc Light" and "Young Tiger" missions. However, the B-52G was not nearly as suitable for conventional warfare as was the "D" model, since the "G" was unable to carry bombs externally and it did not have the Big Belly modifications that gave the B-52D such a fearsome conventional capability.
However, despite the disadvantages of using the B-52G in a conventional warfare capacity, from 1972 through 1973 almost all of the base's resources were deployed overseas for operations over Vietnam. Barksdale's B-52s participated in the Linebacker I and Linebacker II raids of 1972 73 at the end of the Vietnam war. The onboard electronic countermeasures equipment that had been fitted to the B-52G did afford some protection against enemy Surface-to-air missiles, but it was far from infallible, and the B-52G proved alarmingly vulnerable. In the latter stages of Linebacker II, some of the B-52Gs were actually diverted in-flight to targets deemed to be less dangerous. All aircraft and crews returned to Barksdale in January and October 1973.
From 1973 1992, Barksdale hosted the annual Strategic Air Command Bombing and Navigation Competition and awards symposium. After spending weeks dropping bombs on ranges throughout the United States and engaging in navigational competition, SAC's finest bomber and tanker aircrews gathered here for the score posting and awards presentation, and to work together to improve the training of SAC aircrews.
Headquarters Second Air Force was inactivated on January 1, 1975, being replaced by Headquarters Eighth Air Force which was transferred to Barksdale after being located at Andersen AFB, Guam for five years in charge of SAC strategic operations for the Vietnam War. At Barksdale, the Eighth took over the operations and personnel of the deactivated Second Air Force.
In 1978, the Eighth Air Force Museum was established at Barksdale with the arrival of a B-17 Flying Fortress of the type the "Mighty Eighth" flew during World War II. The museum has grown greatly over the years, and today its collection includes the B-24, B-29, B-47, B-52D, B-52G, British Avro Vulcan B.Mk2, FB-111A, C-45, C-47, VC-64, KC-97, KC-135, P/F-51D, F-84F, MiG-21F, T-33 and SR-71A.
Barksdale's 32d Air Refueling Squadron received the first operational KC-10A Extender aerial tanker in November 1981. The 32d ARS was reassigned to the 458th Operations Group on June 1, 1992 and to the 305th Operations Group on July 1, 1995. The 71st ARS was reassigned to the 458th Operations Group at McGuire AFB, New Jersey. Barksdale's last KC-135 was placed in the Eighth Air Force Museum after its final flight in March 1994 and the last KC-10 departed for McGuire AFB in October.
Space Shuttle Discovery stops at Barksdale on its way to the Kennedy Space Center In April 1982, and again in December 1990, the space shuttle Columbia made stops at Barksdale on its way back to Cape Canaveral.
On September 20, 2009, the airport was again used as a refuelling stop for the Space Shuttle's return flight to the Kennedy Space Center, as has done numerous times before. This time is was the Space Shuttle Discovery that was being piggybacked from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth. The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and Space Shuttle Discovery remained at Barksdale over night.
Operation Just Cause/Desert Shield/Desert Storm
Barksdale played significant roles in Operation Just Cause to restore democracy to Panama in December 1989, Operation Desert Shield in August 1990 and Operation Desert Storm in January 1991. The first combat sortie of Desert Storm was launched from Barksdale, when seven B-52Gs flew a 35-hour mission - the longest combat sortie in history at that time - to fire a barrage of conventional air-launched cruise missiles against Iraq. The B-52s from Barksdale that were deployed to Zaragoza Air Base, Spain (a former SAC "Reflex" base) dropped 10 percent of all U.S. Air Force bombs during the Persian Gulf War.
Upon its return from the Middle East, the 2d Bombardment Wing, Heavy was redesignated the 2d Wing with its implementation of the objective wing organization on September 1, 1991.
The base turned its attention from combat to more peaceful pursuits when two B-52s, a KC-10 and their crews visited Dyagilevo Air Base, Russia, in March 1992. In May 1992, Barksdale hosted a return visit by two Russian Tu-95 "Bear" bombers, an An-124 "Condor" transport and 58 Russian airmen. The Russians stayed for six days, seeing a slice of America and participating in Strategic Air Command's final Bombing and Navigation Competition awards symposium. The Russians visited again in August 1994, bringing a Tu-95 "Bear" and an Il-78 aerial tanker. Barksdale began a friendship with Ukrainian airmen later in 1994, when a B-52 and KC-10 visited Poltava Air Base, Ukraine.
In April 1992, 265 buildings on Barksdale's main base were placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The area from the Shreveport Gate to the flightline and from the Bossier Gate to Hoban Hall make up the Barksdale Field Historic District, along with much of family housing.
On June 1, 1992, Barksdale was transferred from the inactivating Strategic Air Command to the newly-activated Air Combat Command (ACC). All active-duty aircraft assigned to Barksdale were assigned ACC tail codes of "LA".
An equipment change began also in 1992 when the 596th Bomb Squadron retired its B-52Gs and replaced them with B-52Hs from inactivating squadrons at other former SAC bases. The 596th itself was inactivated when it was replaced by the 96th Bomb Squadron on October 1, 1993. The 20th Bomb Squadron was reassigned to the 2d Wing on December 17, 1992 when it and its B-52Hs were reassigned to Barksdale from the 7th Wing, the latter which was relocating from the deactivating Carswell AFB, Texas and transferring to Dyess AFB, Texas in order to transition to the B-1 Lancer.
In October 1993, the 2d Wing was redesignated as the 2d Bomb Wing when the 71st Air Refueling Squadron and its KC-135A/Qs were reassigned to the Air Mobility Command.
A third B-52H squadron was assigned to the wing on July 1, 1994 when the 11th Bomb Squadron was activated at Barksdale. The mission of the 11th BS is that of a Formal Training Unit (FTU) for the B-52H.
1990s combat operations
Barksdale became the focus of attention once again in September 1996 as two of its B-52s fired 13 conventional air-launched cruise missiles on surface-to-air missile sites and air defense radars in Iraq. Dubbed Operation Desert Strike, the mission came in response to Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein's attacks on Kurds in northern Iraq and was the first combat employment of the B-52H in history. In only a span of 80 hours, Barksdale B-52s and support personnel deployed forward to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, carried out the strike against Iraqi targets and returned to Guam.
Fourteen months later, in November 1997, personnel and aircraft deployed from Barksdale to the British island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean by order of the President. They joined forces already in the region in response to a renewed bout of provocations and threats made by Saddam Hussein. Remaining at Diego Garcia until June 1998, Barksdale's forces bolstered the ability to defend the security of the region against possible aggression by Iraq and to accomplish specific military objectives if a diplomatic solution to the confrontation could not be achieved.
Six B-52s and personnel from Barksdale were again deployed to Diego Garcia in November 1998 becoming part of the 2d Air Expeditionary Group. Seven bombers and about 180 people deployed in response to Iraq's refusal to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors. Although President Bill Clinton called off strikes after Hussein's last-minute concessions to meet U.N. demands, Iraq 's cooperation continued to deteriorate. U.S. military forces, including Barksdale's B-52s, launched a sustained series of air strikes against Iraq shortly after midnight December 17, 1998. The three-day-long campaign, dubbed Operation Desert Fox, followed the latest in a series of roadblocks by the Iraqi government against weapons inspections conducted by the U.N. Special Commission.
From March to June 1999, ten B-52s and personnel of the 2d Bomb Wing played a prominent role in halting the brutal Serb expulsion of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo. Operating from RAF Fairford as part of the 2d Air Expeditionary Group in the United Kingdom, Barksdale B-52s flew over 180 combat sorties and released over 6,600 weapons against military targets throughout the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during Operation Allied Force.
Global War on Terrorism
Immediately following the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Barksdale provided a safe haven for President George W. Bush on his return flight to the nation's capitol. Shortly thereafter, the National Command Authority called upon the base to provide substantial forces to spearhead the Global War on Terrorism. Operating from multiple overseas locations, Barksdale warriors and B-52s, both active and reserve alike, played a key role in Operation Enduring Freedom, which saw the elimination of the repressive Taliban regime of Afghanistan. The operation also resulted in the destruction of the Al-Qaeda leadership and training infrastructure that had previously resided with impunity in that country.
Returning yet again to the skies of Iraq, Barksdale B-52s flew over 150 combat sorties against military targets throughout the southern half of the country during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
917th Wing (Air Force Reserve Command)
Fairchild Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II AF Serial No. 80-0155 of the 47th Fighter Squadron (AFRC), based at Barksdale. This aircraft was retired to AMARC on December 4, 2001, then returned to service Boeing B-52H-165-BW Stratofortress AF Serial No. 61-0008 of the 93rd Bomb Squadron (AFRC) takes off on a unique mission with new equipment, April 7, 2003. The mission they are preparing for will be the first "real world" mission where a Lightening 2 Pod is used for laser-guided bomb delivery. The base at which the aircrew is deployed is currently the home of the 457th Air Expeditionary Group, which has been positioned to support Operation Iraqi Freedom The 917th Wing was originally formed as the 917th Troop Carrier Group on January 17, 1963 at Barksdale and was assigned to the 435th Troop Carrier Wing. Its mission was to administer and support its assigned 78th Troop Carrier Squadron which was equipped with Douglas C-124 Globemaster IIs.
On July 1, 1963, both the group and squadron were reassigned to the 442nd Troop Carrier Wing because their new gaining command, the Military Air Transport Service (MATS), wanted all five Air Force Reserve C-124 Groups assigned to the same wing. The units were reassigned to the 512th Troop Carrier Wing on March 25, 1965.
Reflecting similar changes in the active force, the 917th was redesignated twice - initially to the 917th Air Transport Group in 1965, and then to the 917th Military Airlift Group in 1966. The 917th Military Airlift Group was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its exceptional safety record of more than 55,000 accident-free flying hours and global support missions.
On April 26, 1972, the unit was redesignated the 917th Special Operations Group, with Tactical Air Command as the gaining major air command. As the missions changed, the unit was redesignated the 917th Tactical Fighter Group (917 TFG) on October 1, 1973. The 78th Troop Carrier Squadron was subsequently deactivated and replaced by the 47th Tactical Fighter Squadron. During the late 1980s, the 917 TFG group was upgraded to wing status and renamed the 917th Tactical Fighter Wing (917 TFW).
Due to Air Force restructuring in June 1992, Tactical Air Command was combined with all elements of the Strategic Air Command (except KC-135 and KC-10 aircraft)to form the new Air Combat Command (ACC). The 917th Tactical Fighter Wing joined Air Combat Command and "Tactical" was dropped from its name.
On October 1, 1993, the 917th Fighter Wing (917 FW) saw important changes once again. The 46th Fighter Training Squadron was deactivated when the active-duty Air Force took control of all fighter replacement training. On this same day, the 917th became the first unit in Air Force Reserve history to acquire a strategic mission: B-52Hs were added to the wing make-up and the 93rd Bomb Squadron was activated. Now a composite wing, the 917th dropped "Fighter" from its name and became the 917th Wing (917 WG).
In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska. Some of the 354th Fighter Wing s assigned A-10 aircraft (located at Eielson AFB) would be distributed to the 917th Wing Barksdale Air Force Base (three aircraft). This recommendation was made because, although a base with high military value, Eielson was an expensive base to maintain.
In another Recommendation, DoD recommended to realign Air Force Reserve fighter assets at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, LA. It would distribute six of the 926th Fighter Wing s A-10 aircraft to the 917th Wing.
On September 20, 2009, the airport was used as a refuelling stop for the Space Shuttle Discovery's return flight to the Kennedy Space Center that was being piggybacked from Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth. The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft and Space Shuttle Discovery remained at Barksdale over night.
307th Bomb Wing (Air Force Reserve Command)
On January 1, 2011, Air Force Reserve Command inactivated the 917th Wing, while at the same time activating the 307th Bomb Wing, which subsumed the B-52 units of the 917th Wing. The A-10 units of the 917th Wing remain at Barksdale AFB, under the newly created 917th Fighter Group, while organizational control is with the 442d Fighter Wing, Whiteman AFB, Missouri.
Bent Spear incident
On August 30, 2007, a B-52 originating from Minot Air Force Base carried six AGM-129 ACM cruise missiles, each loaded with a W80-1 variable yield nuclear warhead, to Barksdale without the knowledge of base personnel or crew. This incident sparked controversy across the country. As an end result of the situation, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that, "A substantial number of Air Force general officers and colonels have been identified as potentially subject to disciplinary measures, ranging from removal from command to letters of reprimand," and that he had accepted the resignations of USAF Secretary Michael Wynne and USAF Chief of Staff Michael Moseley.
Bossier Base, now called The East Reservation due to its location east of the runway, was formerly a Defense Atomic Support Agency (DASA) Q clearance maintenance and WSA during the Cold War. It was similar to Sandia Base's Manzano. Once entirely independent of the USAF and Barksdale AFB, it has been merged with the main base.
Major commands to which assigned
- Fourth Corps Area (United States Army), August 1, 1932 March 1, 1935
- GHQ Air Force, March 1, 1935 October 15, 1940
- Southeastern Air Corps Training Center, October 15, 1940 December 6, 1941
- AF Combat Command, December 6, 1941 February 10, 1942
- 3d Air Force, February 10, 1942 June 6, 1945
- Continental Air Forces, June 6, 1945 November 1, 1945
- AAF Training Command, November 1, 1945 July 1, 1946
- Air Training Command, July 1, 1946 November 1, 1949
Strategic Air Command, November 1, 1949 June 1, 1992
- Air Combat Command, June 1, 1992 February 1, 2010
- Air Force Global Strike Command, February 1, 2010 present
Major units assigned
- 20th Pursuit Gp, October 31, 1932 November 19, 1939
- 3d Attack Gp, February 19, 1935 March 1, 1935
- Station Complement, Barksdale Fld, March 1, 1935 August 26, 1936
- Base HQ and 6th Air Base Sq GHQ, August 26, 1936 June 13, 1943
- 335th Bombardment Group (Medium) July 17, 1942 May 1, 1944
- 331st AAF Base Unit, May 1, 1944 December 1, 1945
- 2621st AAF Base Unit, December 1, 1945 September 26, 1947
- 2621st AF Base Unit, September 26, 1947 August 26, 1948
- 3500th Pilot Training Wg, August 26, 1948 October 14, 1949
- 47th Bombardment Wing, November 19, 1948 October 2, 1949
- 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wg, October 14, 1949 June 16, 1952
- Second Air Force, November 1, 1949 January 1, 1975
- 301st Bombardment Wing, November 7, 1949 April 15, 1958
- 376th Bombardment Wing, October 10, 1951 November 30, 1957
- 301st Air Refueling Wing, March 18, 1953 April 15, 1958
- 4238th Strategic Wing, March 1, 1958 April 1, 1963
- 1st Combat Evaluation Group, August 1, 1961 1990
- 917th Wing, December 28, 1962 January 8, 2011
- 307th Bomb Wing, January 8, 2011 present
- 2d Bombardment Wing, April 1, 1963 present
- Eighth Air Force, January 1, 1975 present
- Air Force Cyber Command (Provisional), October 1, 2007 October 6, 2008
- David Wade, commander of the SAC Second Air Force at Barksdale from 1963 to 1966, was reared in Claiborne Parish some fifty miles to the east.
- Louisiana World War II Army Airfields
North Louisiana History has published three articles on Barksdale:
Adrian C. Shively, "BAFB: Its History as a Cotton Plantation," Vol. 25, No. 1 (Winter 1994), pp. 3 15;
Lester C. Verigan, "BAFB: Satellite Operations in NW La.," Vol. 25, No.1 (Winter 1994), pp. 16 33;
Beau Morris, "The Political Origins of BAFB," Vol. 8, No. 3 (Spring 1977), pp. 131 136.
- Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office 1961 (republished 1983, Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-02-1).
- Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947 1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
- Mueller, Robert, Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982, Office of Air Force History, 1989
- Lloyd, Alwyn T. (2000), A Cold War Legacy, A Tribute to Strategic Air Command, 1946 1992, Pictorial Histories Publications ISBN 1-57510-052-5
- Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
- Turner Publishing Company (1997), Strategic Air Command: The Story of the Strategic Air Command and Its People. Turner Publishing Company ISBN 1-56311-265-5
- USAAS-USAAC-USAAF-USAF Aircraft Serial Numbers--1908 to present
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