Nouasseur Air Base, Morocco
French Morocco siting developed out of the Allied presence there at the close of World War II. During the early and middle 1950s, the air base supported the command's emergency war plan as staging areas for bombers pointed at the Soviet Union.
By August 1950 Operational Storage Sites for nuclear weapons storage were under contract in French Morocco at Nouasseur, Sidi Slimane, and Ben Guerir. These storage sites were under construction in May 1951.
Nouasseur [sometimes mis-spelled Nousasseur] was critically important for SAC during its first reflex exercises. Nouasseur hosted the B-36 bomber, with an asphalted-concrete runways of 12,000.
As of late April 1951 SAC authorized a double-cantilever hangar for Nouasseur, one of its bases beginning construction in French Morocco. The Nouasseur hangar is documented by its footprint on maps of late 1951 as either a B-36 hangar (580 by 244 feet) or an expansible B-36 hangar (560 by 244 feet), and had foundations under construction by late autumn. The Air Force inspection report of December describes this structure as "the Pacific Iron and Steel Company Hangar Building," indicating that it was likely at least planned from one of the Mills & Petticord designs. The Nouasseur SAC hangar in fact may be either the Mills & Petticord hangar of January-February 1951, the firm's hangar of August 1951, or, one of the first built from the final Kuljian Corporation designs for the SAC bomber maintenance hangar-if SAC delayed construction past the foundations until early in 1952.
SAC devised a deployment program to use shorter-range B-47s. Three bases were built in Morocco for this purpose -- at Nouasseur, Sidi Slimane, and Ben Guerir. About one-third of the B-47 force was rotated on a 90-day basis and kept on 15-minute alert for that time period. The overseas bases moved the B-47s into effective range of their targets without aerial refueling.
Sabres began flying gunnery training missions during the spring of 1954 from Nouasseur Air Base. 123rd FBW had previously investigated using the other Moroccan base at Sidi Slimane for gunnery use, but at that time (early 1952), Sidi Slimane was insufficiently developed. By 1954 however, the base at Nouasseur near Casablanca was deemed suitable for the task.
In December 1951, the 118th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was transferred to North Africa. They were part of the Strategic Air Command's network of strategic bomber bases at Nouasseur Air Base and Sidi Slimane Air Base, French Morocco. The majority of the 118th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron personnel were located at Nouasseur Air Base; but they also had detachments in the field in the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. Their mission was to calibrate, set up, and maintain early warning and tactical control radar and radio sites in support of the Strategic Air Command.
With the destabilization of French government in Morocco, and Moroccan independence in 1956, the government of Mohammed V wanted the US Air Force to pull out of the SAC bases in Morocco, insisting on such action after American intervention in Lebanon in 1958. The United States agreed to leave as of December 1959, and was fully out of Morocco in 1963. SAC felt the Moroccan bases were much less critical with the long range of the B-52, and with the completion of the Spanish bases in 1959.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|