Nellis AFB, NV
Nellis Air Force Base -- "Home of the Fighter Pilot" -- is a member of the United States Air Force's Air Combat Command. It is home to the largest and most demanding advanced air combat training in the world. Nellis provides training for composite strike forces which include every type of aircraft in the US Air Force inventory. Training is also conducted in conjunction with air and ground units of the Army, Navy and Marine Corps as well as air forces from allied nations. Nellis Air Force Base grew from a rural, war-time base to the biggest, busiest, and best base in the United States Air Force. Its roots lay in a time of approaching conflagration, in which the United States prepared its defenses against world-wide aggressors. It continues to train air combat warriors to fly, fight, and win in the national interest.
Nellis Air Force Base is located 8 miles northeast of Las Vegas, at the northeast corner of the Las Vegas Valley in the southeastern corner of Nevada. The base is located adjacent to the cities of Las Vegas and North Las Vegas in Clark County. The unincorporated town of Sunrise Manor and uninhabited areas of Clark County encompass the majority of the base. The main base covers approximately 11,300 acres, 7,000 acres (62 percent) of which are undeveloped; the remaining area is either paved or contains structures.
The base contains three major functional areas.
- Area I on the main base include the airfield and most of the mission support functions. The commissary, exchange and some housing are located in Area I.
- Area II is located east of Area I and houses the munitions area of the base.
- Area III lies across Las Vegas Blvd from Area I. Housing, the base hospital, and open space comprise most of Area III.
As of 1990 a significant number of nuclear weapons were stored at Area 2, a highly guarded part of Nellis AFB at the foot of Sunrise Mountain also known as Nellis Area II and Lake Mead Base. The area consists of 790 acres, 75 specialized munitions storage igloos, 15 maintenance and support facilities, 26 miles of roadways, and 44 vehicles of various types. The site is one of three Air Force central nuclear storage areas in the United States, along with Kirtland AFB, Albuquerque, NM, and Barksdale AFB in Bossier City, LA. The 3096th Aviation Depot Squadron based at Nellis AFB, subsequently redesignated the 896th Munitions Squadron, is responsible for Area II operations.
Nellis AFB main gate is at the intersection of Craig Rd. & Las Vegas Blvd. The Air Warefare Center is located on Washington Blvd. Nellis offers extraordinary facilities for a broad range of activities. The climate provides year- round flying potential, with fewer than 20 days a year lost to inclement weather. The ranges are the largest land ranges in the western world, with air military operating areas that extend well into Utah.
Nellis AFB is located in the Mojave desert scrub biome, the smallest of the four North American warm-temperate desertland biomes. It is spatially and floristically intermediate between the Great Basin desertscrub and the Sonoran desertscrub. Winter rainfall predominates. The elevation range of the Mojave desertscrub biome is broader than that of the other desertscrub biomes, with roughly three-quarters of the biome lying between 2,000 and 4,000 feet. It is frequently referred to as "high desert." Most distinctions between desert biomes are based on the presence or absence of large, easily identified plant species. Main plant dominants of the Mojave desertscrub biome are creosote bush, all-scale, brittlebush, desert holly, and white burrobrush. Shadscale, blackbrush, yucca, and white bursage are also common.
Lieutenant Nellis was shot down two times in his first 69 missions. His seventieth and last mission involved support of the allied forces in the Battle of the Bulge over Bastogne, Belgium. He flew a P-47 into intensely heavy flak, scoring hits on his target. His plane suffered heavy damage, and he crashed into a wooded area two days after Christmas, 1944. His body was not recovered until April 1945.
The tempo at the base did not let up as the 1980s ended. The base hosted over 60,000 sorties a year, and more than 40,000 visitors. Its base population remained around 12,000, and its economic value to the community topped $700 million. Nellis continued to be the crown of the Air Force as it entered the last decade of the century.
More than 40,000 sorties a year are flown from this southern Nevada facility. The base hosts world-class exercises in RED, GREEN, and BLUE FLAGs. The AIR WARRIOR exercises provide extraordinary training in the Army's Air-Land Battle doctrine and exceptional education in close air support for both air and ground forces. The USAF Weapons School renders the most advanced weapons instructor courses in the world, and now includes fighters, bombers, helicopters, intelligence, and space. The Nellis support team performs deployments around the world, exporting its enormous expertise. The base hosts visiting aircraft from almost every free nation in the world, and thousands of distinguished guests a year. It expends over 40 percent of the Air Force's live munitions, and 75 percent of Air Combat Command's live munitions. The base has a lively, sometimes hectic pace and demands the best from all who work to accomplish the mission.
An Air Installation Compatible Use Zone (AICUZ) study helps communities and bases plan development in and around military bases. The program recommends solutions for the effects of noise levels around the base. The goal of these recommendations is to keep noise sensitive uses such as housing, hospitals and schools out of high noise areas. Additionally, it helps to keep high concentrations of people out of accident potential zones and to prevent land uses, which would interfere with the safe navigation of aircraft such as towers, tall buildings, etc.
The Nellis AFB AICUZ study was last published in 1992 and is currently used by community planners. Over the last few years, noise levels actually decreased particularly when the drawdown of the F-4s and F-111s were complete. These were loud, low-flying aircraft, which extended noise zones away from the runway and base. Although additional measurements were accomplished in 1997, the local communities prefer to use the 1992 contours because the noise effects extend farther from the base. A recent Environmental Impact Statement analyzing the F-22 beddown show the noise contours would extend back out to 1992 levels by the year 2008.
Secretary of Defense Recommendaitons: In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to distribute some of the 354th Fighter Wing's F-16 aircraft to the 57th Wing at Nellis Air Force Base (18 aircraft). This recommendation was part of a larger recommendation to realign Eielson Air Force Base, AK. Eielson's (11) military value was high because of its close proximity to valuable airspace and ranges. Eielson was, however, an expensive base to operate and improve (build). The Air Force would distribute the F-16s to Nellis (13) a base with high military value. Environmentally, Nellis AFB was in a National Ambient Air Quality Standards nonattainment area for carbon monoxide (serious), particulate matter (PM10, serious), and ozone (8-hr, subpart 1). A preliminary assessment indicated that a conformity determination might be required to verify that positive conformity can be achieved.
DoD also recommended to realign Nellis Air Force Base. The 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, NV, would distribute F-16 Block 42 aircraft to the 138th Fighter Wing Tulsa International Airport AGS, OK (three aircraft), and retire the remaining F-16 Block 42 aircraft (15 aircraft). The 57th Wing would also distribute F-16 Block 32 aircraft (six aircraft) to the 144th Fighter Wing Fresno Air Terminal AGS, CA, and to retirement (one aircraft). In the same recommendation, DoD recommended to realign Mountain Home Air Force Base, ID. It would distribute the 366th Fighter Wing assigned F-15Cs (18 aircraft) to the 57th Fighter Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, NV (nine aircraft) and to two other locations. The 366th Fighter Wing from Mountain Home AFB would also distribute assigned F-16 Block 52 aircraft to the 169th Fighter Wing McEntire AGS, SC (nine aircraft), the 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, NV (five aircraft), and to backup inventory (four aircraft).
In another Recommendation, DoD recommended to realign the 442 wing HQ element from Whiteman AFB, MO to Nellis AFB. This recommendation was part of a larger DoD recommendation that would realign NAS New Orleans ARS, LA that would distribute the 926th Fighter Wing's A-10 aircraft from NAS New Orleans to the 442d Fighter Wing (AFR), Whiteman AFB, MO (nine aircraft), and the 917th Wing (AFR) at Barksdale AFB, LA (six aircraft).
In another recommendation, DoD would realign Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Air Guard Station, St. Louis, MO. The 131st Fighter Wing's F-15s (15 aircraft) would be distributed to the 57th Fighter Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, NV (nine aircraft) and one other base. The Air Force distributed reserve component F-15C force structure to bases with higher military value than Lambert-St. Louis (127).
DoD also recommended to close Cannon Air Force Base, NM. As a result, it would distribute the 27th Fighter Wing's F- 16s to the 57th Fighter Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, NV (seven aircraft) and several other installations. This move was recommended becasue Nellis (12) had a higher military value ranking than Cannon (50).
Another recommendation would realign Nellis AFB by relocating base-level F110 engine intermediate maintenance to Hill AFB, establishing a CIRF for F110 engines at Hill. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 31 jobs (19 direct jobs and 12 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Las Vegas-Paradise, NV, Metropolitan Statistical economic area (less than 0.1 percent).
DoD also recommended to realign Mountain Home Air Force Base, ID. Distribute the 366th Fighter Wing assigned F-15Cs (18 aircraft) to the 57th Fighter Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, NV (nine aircraft), to the 125th Fighter Wing, Jacksonville International Airport AGS, FL (six aircraft), and to retirement (three aircraft). The 366th Fighter Wing will distribute assigned F-16 Block 52 aircraft to the 169th Fighter Wing McEntire AGS, SC (nine aircraft), the 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, NV (five aircraft), and to backup inventory (four aircraft). Realign Nellis Air Force Base. The 57th Wing, Nellis Air Force Base, NV, will distribute F- 16 Block 42 aircraft to the 138th Fighter Wing Tulsa International Airport AGS, OK (three aircraft), and retire the remaining F-16 Block 42 aircraft (15 aircraft). The 57th Wing also will distribute F-16 Block 32 aircraft (six aircraft) to the 144th Fighter Wing Fresno Air Terminal AGS, CA, and to retirement (one aircraft). Realign Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK. The 366th Fighter Wing, Mountain Home Air Force Base, ID, will receive F-15E aircraft from the 3d Wing, Elmendorf Air Force Base, AK (18 aircraft), and attrition reserve (three aircraft).
Secretary of Defense Justifications: Military value was the predominant consideration in moving the F-15Es from Elmendorf (36) to Mountain Home (23) and F-16s to Nellis (12) and McEntire (48). Additionally, realigning the eight F-16 models and four F-16 engine types weighed in the final F-16 force structure laydown. At the time of this recommendation, Mountain Home operated several types of aircraft; this recommendation would realign Mountain Home to fly only F-15Es, streamlining operations at a location that would be well suited for air-to-ground, low-level and air-to-air flight training. This recommendation would also align common versions of F-16s and F-15Cs. Environmentally, Nellis Air Force Base was in a National Ambient Air Quality Standards nonattainment area for carbon monoxide (serious), particulate matter (PM10, serious), and ozone (8-hr, subpart 1). A preliminary assessment indicated that a conformity determination might be required to verify that positive conformity can be achieved.
The F-15C aircraft would be realigned to Nellis (13). The Nellis bound aircraft would help form an enhanced aggressor squadron for Operation RED FLAG. The environmental concerns for this recommendation were identical to those listed above.
Cannon has a unique F-16 force structure mix. The base has one F-16 Block 50 squadron, one F-16 Block 40 squadron, and one F-16 Block 30 squadron. All active-duty Block 50 bases have higher military value than Cannon. Cannon's Block 50s move to backup inventory using standard Air Force programming percentages for fighters. Cannon's F-16 Block 40s move to Nellis Air Force Base (seven aircraft) and Hill Air Force Base (six aircraft to right-size the wing at 72 aircraft) and to backup inventory (11 aircraft). Nellis (12) and Hill (14) have a higher military value than Cannon (50). The remaining squadron of F- 16 Block 30s (18 aircraft) are distributed to Air National Guard units at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM (16), Andrews Air Force Base, MD (21), Joe Foss Air Guard Station, SD (112), and Dane-Truax Air Guard Station, WI (122). These moves sustain the active/Air National Guard/Air Force Reserve force mix by replacing aircraft that retire in the 2025 Force Structure Plan.
Air Force Reserve force structure mix constant. Creating CIRFs for LANTIRN pods and F110 engines establishes Hill as a maintenance workload center for these commodities. This recommendation compliments other CIRF recommendations as part of an Air Force effort to standardize stateside and deployed intermediate-level maintenance concepts, and will increase maintenance productivity and support to the warfighter.
Community Concerns: There were no formal expressions from the community.
Commission Findings: The Commission found that a potential 6 percent job loss in the Mountain Home area could have an economic impact given the small size of the community. However, not all jobs will be lost at once and GAO has reported that as local economies grow during the 2006-2011 implementation period, total employment is also likely to grow, reducing the overall percentage of job losses.
The Commission found that Mountain Home Air Force Base is well suited for various types of flight training. It also has the capacity and the infrastructure available to receive future missions. Though the realignment results in the base losing some of its weapon systems, the Air Force indicated that the base is being considered as a potential location for the beddown of the Joint Strike Fighter as well as a training ground for international squadrons. Therefore, the Commission found that the Secretary of Defense's overall intent and concept of streamlining operations at Mountain Home and realigning aircraft is approved. The Commission revised the DoD recommendation to be consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Laydown Plan.
DoD's justification for closing Cannon was the Air Force's overriding strategy to more effectively employ the shrinking Air Force structure by organizing its weapon systems into fewer, larger squadrons and by eliminating excess physical capacity. The Commission found this recommendation would allow the Air Force to relocate newer model F-16s as backup inventory to Active and to Air National Guard units. These moves would sustain the Active, the Air National Guard, and the Reserve force mix by replacing F-16 aircraft that will be retired in the 2025 Force Structure Plan.
The Commission found that this realignment was consistent with the Air Force goals of creating larger more efficient fighter aircraft squadrons and improving intermediate level maintenance processes. The Commission found that Hill Air Force Base had capacity and conditions for current and future flying missions. The Commission also found that the Secretary of Defense's overall intent and concept of realigning F-16 aircraft out of Hill Air Force Base was supportable. The Commission supported the recommendation to establish Hill as a Centralized Intermediate Repair Facility for Low Attitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night pods and for F-110 Engines. The Commission established an F-16 wing at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida and the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas. This recommendation is consistent with the Commission's Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Laydown Plan.
Commission Recommendations: The Commission found that the Secretary of Defense deviated substantially from final selection criterion 1, 3, 4 and 5, as well as from the Force Structure Plan. Therefore, the Commission recommends the following:.
Realign Nellis Air Force Base, NV. Distribute 25 of the F-16 aircraft assigned to the 57th Fighter Wing to meet the Primary Aircraft Authorizations (PAA) requirements established by the Base Closure and Realignment recommendations of the Secretary of Defense, as amended by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
Realign Cannon Air Force Base, NM by disestablishing the 27th Fighter Wing and distributing its aircraft to meet the primary Aircraft Authorization (PAA) requirements established by the Base Closure and Realignment recommendations of the Secretary of Defense, as amended by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission. After disestablishing the 27th Fighter Wing, the Air Force shall establish an enclave at Cannon Air Force Base that shall remain open until December 31, 2009 during which time the Secretary of Defense shall seek other newly-identified missions with all military services for possible assignment to Cannon Air Force Base, NM. If the Secretary designates a mission for Cannon Air Force Base during this period, the enclave would revert to the status appropriate for the designated mission. If the Secretary does not find a mission for Cannon Air Force Base by December 31, 2009, Cannon Air Force Base and the enclave shall be closed. Nothing in this directive shall prohibit the State of New Mexico and the Department of Defense from entering into an agreement to close the enclave at Cannon Air Force Base earlier than December 31, 2009.
Realign Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, TX, and Nellis Air Force Base, NV, by relocating base-level F110 engine intermediate maintenance to Hill, establishing a CIRF for F110 engines at Hill.
The Commission found that this change and the recommendation as amended are consistent with the final selection criteria and the Force Structure Plan. The full text of this and all Commission recommendations can be found in Appendix Q.
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