Kirtland Air Force Base

From Academic Kids

Kirtland Air Force Base is located in the southeast quadrant of Albuquerque, New Mexico, adjacent to the Albuquerque International Sunport. The base is the third largest installation in Air Force Materiel Command, covering 51,558 acres (209 km²) and employing over 23,000 people, including more than 4,200 active duty and 1,000 Guard, plus 3,200 part-time Reserve personnel.

The installation is home to the 377th Air Base Wing, Kirtland AFB's host organization. The mission of the wing is to provide world-class munitions maintenance, readiness and training, and base operating support to approximately 76 Federal government and 384 private sector tenants and associate units.

The Air National Guard unit on KAFB is the 150th Fighter Wing, which is part of the Air Combat Command.


In 1939 the U.S. Army leased land east of Albuquerque airport to establish a flying training base. By early 1941 construction had begun. The following month the base got its first military aircraft, a lone B-18 bomber and by summer the first troop train had arrived, along with 2,195 trainees for the new B-17 Flying Fortress.

In February 1942, Albuquerque's Army Air Base was renamed Kirtland Army Air Field. It was named for Col. Roy C. Kirtland, one of the Army's oldest pilots.

During World War II Kirtland trained flight crews for the B-17,B-24 and B-29 bombers.

In February 1946, Kirtland was placed under the Air Materiel Command and its ceased its flying training activities. It's new role for Kirtland was to develop proper aircraft modifications for weapons delivery and to determine ballistic characteristics for nuclear weapons. Kirtland's role in the testing and evaluation of special weapons increased in 1947 when Kirtland Army Air Field, became Kirtland Air Force Base.

In September 1948 the first B-36 was modified to carry nuclear weapons at Kirtland, followed by the first B-47 jet bomber in December of that year.

In December 1949, Kirtland became headquarters for the Air Force Special Weapons Center. In 1963, the Special Weapons Center gave up much of its research and development work to the newly created Air Force Weapons Laboratory.

On July 1, 1971, Kirtland merged with Manzano Base and Sandia Base, its neighbors to the east.

Early in 1974, at the direction of the Air Force Chief of Staff, the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center was organized at Kirtland to direct and oversee operational testing of aircraft and other equipment.

The Air Force Special Weapons Center was disestablished on 1 April, 1976.

On 1 October, 1982, the Air Force Space Technology Center was activated at Kirtland. On 13 December, 1990, it was combined with three Air Force laboratories to become Phillips Laboratory. It recently joined other laboratories and became part of the Air Force Research Laboratory.



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