Military


Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona
32 09'N 11052'W

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is a key Air Combat Command installation, located within the city limits of Tucson, Ariz., with a colorful history and a long tradition of excellence in service to our country.

The 355th Wing is the host unit providing medical, logistical, and operational support to all D-M units. The wing's missions are to train A-10 and OA-10 pilots and to provide A-10 and OA-10 close support and forward air control to ground forces worldwide. The wing is also tasked to provide command, control, and communications countermeasures in support of tactical forces with its EC-130H aircraft and, employing the EC-130E aircraft, provide airborne command, control, and communications capabilities for managing tactical air operations in war and other contingencies worldwide.

D-M became a military base in 1925, but its origins can be traced to the earliest days of civil aviation. In 1927, Charles Lindbergh, fresh from his non-stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, flew his "Spirit of St. Louis" to Tucson to dedicate Davis-Monthan Field -- then the largest municipal airport in the United States.

The base was named in honor of Lieutenants Samuel H. Davis and Oscar Monthan, two Tucsonans and World War I era pilots who died in separate military aircraft accidents. Davis, who died in a Florida aircraft accident in 1921, attended the University of Arizona prior to enlisting in the Army in 1917. Monthan enlisted in the Army as a private in 1917, was commissioned as a ground officer in 1918 and later became a pilot. He was killed in a crash of a Martin bomber in Hawaii in 1924.

In 1940, with a war cloud on the horizon, the field was selected for expansion. During World War II, D-M served as an operational training base for B-18 "Bolos," and B-24 "Liberator" and, nearing the war's end, B-29 "Superfortress."

With the end of the war, operations at the base came to a virtual standstill. It was then the base was selected as a storage site for hundreds of decommissioned aircraft, particularly the excess B-29s and C-47 "Gooney Birds." Tucson's dry climate and alkali soil made it an ideal location for aircraft storage and preservation, a mission that has continued to this day.

Strategic Air Command ushered in the Cold War era at D-M in May 1946, in the form of two B-29 bombardment groups. Once again, the skies of the "old Pueblo," Tucson's nickname, were filled with the sights and sounds of the "Superfortress."

On 2 March 1949, the Lucky Lady II, a B-50A (serial number 46-010) of the 43rd Bombardment Group, completed the first nonstop round-the-world flight, having covered 23,452 miles in 94 hours and 1 minute. Lucky Lady II was refueled four times in the air by KB-29 tankers of the 43rd Air Refueling Squadron. For this outstanding flight, the Lucky Lady II crew received the Mackay Trophy, given annually by the National Aeronautic Association for the outstanding flight of the year, and the Air Age Trophy, an Air Force Association award, given each year in recognition of significant contributions to the public understanding of the air age.

The jet age came to the base in 1953, when SAC units converted to the new B-47 "Stratojet." That same year, the Air Defense Command appeared on the base with a squadron of F-86A "Sabre Jet" fighters.

On April 20, 1960, the Fifteenth Air Force announced selection of the base to support a Titan II missile wing. As with Titan II base construction at Little Rock and McConnell AFBs, the Corps of Engineers Ballistic Missile Construction Office implemented a "three phase" concept in an attempt to alleviate "concurrency" problems that had plagued earlier Atlas and Titan I construction projects.

Three companies (Jones, Teer, and Winkelman) combined to bid $27.7 million and received the contract for the first phase of construction, which included the access road, pit and shaft excavations, and blast lock door installation. Groundbreaking was on December 9,196O. With first phase operations moving forward, second phase operations began on July 13, 1961, as Fluor Corporation and its subcontractors began installing the supporting electrical, fueling, and other auxiliary equipment. Fluor had won the contract by submitting a low bid of $35.6 million. The sites were prepared for the final phase by mid-December 1962. The Martin Company handled phase III missile installation and checkouts. As with previous projects, hazards faced the workers who built the huge underground structures. During the first two phases, five workers died in construction accidents and many more were injured.

Labor strife also disrupted construction. Between 1962 and 1964, 20 work stoppages occurred, resulting in 1,758 lost man-days of work. Yet, given that over 1 million man-days of labor were expended during the course of the project, the days lost to work stoppage were minimal.

Charges of waste and inefficiency brought three staff investigators from the Senate Preparedness Subcommittee, chaired by Senator John Stennis, to Davis-Monthan during the first week of August 1962. The subcommittee would later conclude that the cost-overruns experienced at Davis-Monthan were comparable to those experienced at the other two Titan II bases due to design alterations during construction and inexperience with this type of project.

In October 1981, President Reagan announced that as part of the strategic modernization program, Titan II systems were to be retired by October 1, 1987. Deactivation began at Davis-Monthan on October 1, 1982. Explosive demolition began at the headworks of missile complex 570-7 on November 30, 1983.

After removal from service, 17 silos had reusable equipment removed by Air Force personnel, and contractors retrieved salvageable metals before destroying the silos with explosives and filling them in. Access to the vacated control centers was blocked off. Some of the properties were then sold; other sites are retained by the Bureau of Land Management.

Local aviation enthusiasts associated with the Pima Air Museum won Defense Department approval in 1984 to set aside one silo for permanent display. The silo at Green Valley was retained by the Air Force and leased to local government for use as the "Titan Missile Museum." With a training Titan II missile in place, the silo is maintained by a dedicated organization comprised of volunteers from nearby retirement communities. The site was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as the only surviving sample of a Titan II installation. In addition to the launch complex and missile, the museum obtained auxiliary support equipment for display.

Davis-Monthan's relationship with missiles did not end with the removal of the Titans. The base served as a training facility for the BGM-109G Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM) during the 1970s and 1980s. At the time of the signing of the December 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, the training facility hosted 2 training missiles and 27 training launch canisters. Eventually, after the closure of Norton AFB, the Titans returned to Davis-Monthan for storage.

In July 1963, a wing of U-2 strategic reconnaissance aircraft was assigned to the base and began flying global missions. The U-2s remained at the base until 1976, when they were transferred to Beale AFB, Calif.

The year 1964 brought back the combat crew training mission of the World War II years -- this time for the Air Force's newest and most sophisticated fighter, the F-4 "Phantom." In July 1971, the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing, flying the A-7 "Corsair II" aircraft, was activated at the base and the F-4s moved to Luke AFB, Ariz., near Phoenix.

On Oct. 1, 1976, the base was transferred to Tactical Air Command after 30 years under SAC. It was also that year the 355th TFW accepted the first A-10A "Thunderbolt." Since 1979, D-M has been the training location for pilots in the A-10.

The 1980s brought several diverse missions to D-M, and the headquarters charged with overseeing them was the 836th Air Division, which was activated Jan. 1, 1981. Shortly thereafter, the base welcomed the 868th Tactical Missile Training Group, which trained the crews to operate, maintain, and defend the Ground Launch Cruise Missile system. The 41st Electronic Combat Squadron, equipped with the EC-130H "Compass Call" aircraft, was the next to arrive, followed by the 602nd Tactical Air Control Wing, a unit responsible for the Air Force's tactical air control system west of the Mississippi River.

The most recent unit to join the 355th Wing is the 42nd Airborne Command and Control Squadron who arrived at D-M from Keesler AFB, Miss. The squadron's EC-130E Hercules aircraft carry an airborne battlefield command and control center capsule, and provides continuous control of tactical air operations in the forward battle area and behind enemy lines.

On May 1, 1992, the 836th Air Division was inactivated and the 355th Fighter Wing was redesignated the 355th Wing in tune with the Air Force's philosophy of one base, one wing, one commander. The 355th Wing is comprised of the 355th Operations Group, the 355th Logistics Group, the 355th Medical Group, and the 355th Support Group.

Nearly every major air command, the Air Force Reserve and the Air National Guard are represented among the associate units at D-M. Among the base's associate units are the 12th Air Force headquarters, Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center, 305th Rescue Squadron, and Detachment 1, 120th Fighter Interceptor Group.

Twelfth Air Force is charged with commanding, administering, and supervising tactical air forces west of the Mississippi River. As one of ACC's numbered air forces, 12th Air Force operates combat-ready forces and equipment for air superiority -- gaining and maintaining control of airspace; interdiction -- disrupting enemy lines of communication and logistics; and close air support -- working with US and allied forces to defeat the enemy at the point of contact.

The 305th Rescue Squadron, and Air Force Reserve unit, flies the HH-60G "Pavehawk" helicopters. Its primary mission is search and rescue.

Detachment 1, 120th FIG, an Air National Guard unit, flies the F-16 "Fighting Falcon." Each week, two F-16s rotate to the base from their home base in Great Falls, Mont. These aircraft can scramble in less then five minutes to identify, intercept, and, if necessary, destroy any airborne threat to US security.

Other federal agencies using the base include the Federal Aviation Administration, the US Customs Service Air Service Branch, the US Corps of Engineers, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, and a detachment of the Naval Air Systems Command.

Approximately 6,000 military and 1,700 civilian employees work at Davis-Monthan and nearly 13,000 military retirees reside in the Tucson area.

Aerospace Maintenance & Regeneration Center (AMARC)

AMARC is responsible for more than 5,000 aircraft stored at D-M. An Air Force Material Command unit, AMARC is responsible for the storage of excess Department of Defense and Coast Guard aircraft. The center annually in-processes about 400 aircraft for storage and out-processes about the same number for return to the active service, either as remotely controlled drones or sold to friendly foreign governments.

In order to provide a suitable location for vast numbers of surplus aircraft no longer needed in the Army Air Force operational inventory, the 4105th Army Air Force Base Unit was established at Davis­Monthan AFB in April 1946 to store aircraft and prepare them for one­time flight to depot for overhaul.

The creation of the United States Air Force as a separate service in 1947 prompted a reorganization and name change and also saw reclamation in support of active flying units added to the center's mission. During the Korean conflict, the center provided aircraft and aircraft parts. At the cessation of hostilities, an influx of aircraft came into the center for storage. In February 1965, the center was renamed the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center (MASDC) and it assumed the role of storage facility for aircraft from all Services. The mid­1960s also saw an escalation of the Vietnam conflict, and the center was again tasked with providing aircraft and parts. As this conflict started winding down, vast quantities of aircraft were once more funneled into MASDC for storage and reclamation. At the end of fiscal year 1973, the center's inventory ballooned to an all­time high of 6,080 stored aircraft.

In 1981, a storage facility was added at Norton AFB, California, to preserve TITAN II, THOR, and ATLAS missiles used by the Space Division for its satellite launches.

The center's name was changed in October 1985 to the Aerospace Maintenance & Regeneration Center (AMARC) to underscore the dynamic aspect of its mission and the fact that it is an active industrial complex that primarily promotes the regeneration of aerospace assets.

AMARC's mission is to store and maintain aircraft, and other aerospace vehicles, withdraw aircraft from storage, reclaim parts, and to prepare aircraft for disposal after they are no longer needed and when all required parts have been removed.

The center also stores a variety of aerospace­related items such as production tooling, pylons, engines, etc. During wartime or contingencies, AMARC is often tasked to withdraw airframes and components. Some aircraft depart by overland (rail or truck) or air shipment, while others fly out of AMARC. During Operation Desert Storm, parts from AMARC aircraft kept B­52, F­111, F­4, OV­10, C­130, A­7, and P­3 aircraft as well as some helicopters flying.

AMARC is now tasked to provide support in accordance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the former Soviet Union.

AMARC is designated to accomplish the task of eliminating approximately 365 B-52 aircraft during a three and a half year period. This is accomplished by using a 13,000-pound guillotine blade and Linkbelt crane with slip clutch that allows the guillotine blade to free fall, thereby severing the flight control surfaces and the fuselage at predetermined points. The Russians will again visit AMARC to confirm the elimination process.

In fiscal year 1994, AMARC received 735 aircraft and processed 632 into storage. One hundred ninety-seven aircraft were withdrawn from the center, 75 by flyaway and 122 by overland. During this same period, 28,612 parts were removed from aircraft. That sum in FY94 was $994 million. Considering that it cost $49.1 million to operate the center, there is an $20.24 return for each dollar invested.

AMARC is located within the city limits of Tucson, Arizona. Tucson is located in southeastern Pima County approximately 65 miles north of the international border and 130 miles west of the New Mexico border. AMARC consists of 2,597 acres with 81 real property buildings valued at almost $12 million. Total square feet ­ 690,520 is as follows: 455,527 shop space, 157,047 warehouse space, 77,946 administrative space. Number of aircraft stored (as of 30 September 1994) ­ 4,900 valued at $15.9 billion. Number of aerospace production equipment units stored ­ 72,850.

For fiscal year 1994 AMARC's payroll was $28,100,516 for civilian employees and $340,989 for military employees. The total work force population at the center is 693 and is almost totally drawn from Pima County, which is where the city of Tucson is located. Pima County is the second largest Arizona county in population. The center draws its work force from a large number of retirees from the military services. These individuals acquired training while in active duty status and many worked in more than one career field. The center is able to hire at the journeyman level. Training is normally required for certification on newly received aircraft and recurrent training for production acceptance certification and safety issues.

Davis Monthan Air Force Base Overview 20 Meter GSD

Aerospace Maintenance & Regeneration Center (AMARC) 10 Meter GSD

Weapons Storage Area


Alert Pad


B-52 Bombers 2-Meter GSD


B-52 Bombers .5-Meter GSD


A-4 SkyHawk Fighters .5-Meter GSD


F-4 Phantom Fighters .5-Meter GSD


P-3 Orion ASW Patrol Aircraft .5-Meter GSD


C-130 Transports .5-Meter GSD


EC-135 PACCS Aircraft.5-Meter GSD


EC-135 PACCS Aircraft.5-Meter GSD


F-111 Bombers .5-Meter GSD


F-111 Bombers .5-Meter GSD


Pima Air Museum .5-Meter GSD


Aircraft Scrap Yard 1-Meter GSD


B-52's Await their fate



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