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Mountain Home AFB

Template:Infobox military structure

Airfield information
Elevation AMSL 2,996 ft / 913 m
Coordinates 43°02′37″N 115°52′21″W / 43.04361°N 115.87250°W / 43.04361; -115.87250Coordinates: 43°02′37″N 115°52′21″W / 43.04361°N 115.87250°W / 43.04361; -115.87250

Location of Mountain Home Air Force Base
Direction Length Surface
ft m
12/30 13,508 4,117 PEM
Sources: Federal Aviation Administration[1]

Mountain Home Air Force Base (IATA: MUOICAO: KMUOFAA LID: MUO) is a United States Air Force installation located in southwestern Idaho, United States. The base is in Elmore County, 12 mi (19 km) southwest of the city of Mountain Home, which is 40 mi (64 km) southeast of Boise, via Interstate 84.

The host unit at Mountain Home since 1972 has been the 366th Fighter Wing (366 FW) of the Air Combat Command (ACC), nicknamed the "Gunfighters." The base's primary mission is to provide combat airpower and combat support capabilities to respond to and sustain worldwide contingency operations.

Part of the base is a census-designated place (CDP); the population was 3,238 at the 2010 census.[2]


Mountain Home AFB is the home of the 366th Fighter Wing (366 FW), which reports to Air Combat Command (ACC). The mission of the 366 FW is to prepare Airmen and their families, professionally and personally, for expeditionary operations and foster an environment that promotes integration of all facets of wing operations.

The wing comprises four groups and three operational fighter squadrons:

  • 366th Operations Group (Tail code: "MO")
389th Fighter Squadron (F-15E Strike Eagle)
391st Fighter Squadron (F-15E Strike Eagle)
428th Fighter Squadron (F-15SG)
  • 366th Maintenance Group
  • 366th Mission Support Group
  • 366th Medical Group

In addition, the 726th Air Control Squadron gives an air picture to the aircraft as they train. An active Idaho Air National Guard unit, the 266th Range Squadron, controls and maintains emitter sites within the 7,412 sq mi (19,200 km2) operational training range located in southern Idaho.


World War II

Crews started building the base in November 1942 and the new field officially opened on 7 August 1943. Shortly thereafter, airmen at the field began training U.S. Army Air Forces crews for World War II. The 396th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was the first unit assigned and its planned mission was to train crews for the B-17 Flying Fortress. However, before the first B-17s arrived, plans for the field changed and the 396th was transferred to Moses Lake AAF, Washington.

Instead of training B-17 crews, Mountain Home airmen began training crews for the B-24 Liberator. The first group to do so was the 470th Bombardment Group (Heavy), which trained at Mountain Home from May 1943 until January 1944, when the unit moved to Tonopah AAF Nevada. The 490th Bombardment Group (Heavy) replaced the 470th and trained B-24 crews until it deployed to RAF Eye England in April 1944. The 494th Bombardment Group then replaced the 490th, once more training Liberator crews.

Senator George McGovern (1922–2012) was a pilot in the USAAF, and did his second stage of B-24 training here. McGovern served 24 years in both houses of Congress from South Dakota, and was the Democratic nominee in the presidential election of 1972.

The base also received fighter aircraft to add realism to its training. A few P-38 Lightning and P-63 Kingcobra pursuit planes arrived in January 1945 to simulate attacks on B-24s. In June 1945, Mountain Home also briefly served as a training base for the new B-29 Superfortress with the 301st Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) training for combat, but the Japanese surrender in August brought a swift end to the new mission and, for a time, to the base at Mountain Home.

The base was placed in inactive status in October 1945.

Postwar era

The base remained inactive for over three years, until December 1948, when the newly independent U.S. Air Force reopened the base. The 4205th Air Base Group, was activated on 12 December to prepare the newly re-designated Mountain Home Air Force Base for operational use

5th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

Mountain Home's first operational USAF unit was the Strategic Air Command (SAC) 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Group which was reassigned from Clark Field in the Philippines, being assigned on 26 May 1949. The mission of the 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Group (later 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing) was long-range strategic reconnaissance, primarily of the periphery of the Soviet Union. Its primary operational squadron was the 72d Reconnaissance Squadron, which had been had been assigned to the group from Ladd AFB in Alaska Territory, where it had operated RB-29 Superfortress for several years near Fairbanks. On 3 September 1949, aircraft of the 72d identified the first evidence of a successful explosion of a Soviet nuclear weapon in the Semipalatinsk test site in eastern Kazakh SSR on 29 August 1949.

The pending assignment of the new RB-36 Peacemaker to the 5th SRW, along with the inadequacy of its World War II facilities to support the large aircraft led SAC to move the 5th SRW to Fairfield-Suisun AFB, California on 9 November 1949. The 4209th Base Service Squadron was assigned to the base which supervised construction activities to modernize facilities and also construct a 12,000-foot (3,660 m) runway. The base was formally closed on 25 April 1950, however the 5th SRW maintained control of Mountain Home from Fairfield-Suisun, maintaining it as a subbase.

Military Air Transport Service

In early 1951, enough construction was completed that jurisdiction of Mountain Home was transferred to Military Air Transport Service (MATS), which assigned it to the Air Resupply And Communications Service (ARCS). ARCS was Special Operations organization, which performed Psychological Warfare missions. Mountain Home AFB was selected as a training base for ARCS, for which it was well-suited due to the relative remoteness of the facility.

ARCS formed the 580th, 581st, and 582nd Air Resupply and Communications Wings at the base, equipping with wings with C-119 Flying Boxcar, B-29 Superfortress, and SA-16 Albatross aircraft and trained to support covert special operations. Once manned, equipped and trained, the groups deployed to various parts of the world, performing classified missions during the early part of the Cold War.

9th Bombardment Wing

In early May 1953, the major construction on the base was completed, and SAC was able to use its long runway for strategic bomber operations. Jurisdiction of Mountain Home AFB was transferred back to SAC on 1 May 1953.

SAC moved its 9th Bombardment Wing to the base and began flying B-29 bombers and KB-29H refueling aircraft. The 9th converted to the new B-47 Stratojet bomber and the KC-97 Stratotanker air refueling aircraft in September 1954, and kept alert bombers ready for war at a moment's notice and continued its mission as a SAC deterrent force through the early Cold War years of the 1950s and early 1960s.

In 1959, construction of three HGM-25A Titan I missile sites began in the local area. The 569th Strategic Missile Squadron controlled these sites and was assigned to the 9th Bombardment Wing in August 1962. To prepare for the addition of missiles to its bomber forces, the USAF re-designated the wing as the 9th Strategic Aerospace Wing in April 1962.

Two years later, SAC's mission at MHAFB began to wind down as part of the phaseout of the B-47. In November 1964, the Air Force announced that the Titan I was also being phased out. In late 1965 SAC phased down operations at Mountain Home, and jurisdiction was transferred to Tactical Air Command for use.

67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing

In November 1965 TAC began to activate elements of its new 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing (67th TRW) at Mountain Home, formally activating the wing on 1 January 1966. The mission of the 67th TRW was to conduct photographic, visual, radar, and thermal reconnaissance operations. While having these operational commitments, it also conducted replacement training for RF-4C Phantom II crew members being deployed to Southeast Asia.

In September 1966, the wing's 12th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron transferred to the 460th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam. As required, the 67 TRW also supported operations when crew members ferried RF-4Cs to the war theater.

Beginning in 1968, the 67th also conducted tactical fighter operations with the addition of a squadron of F-4D Phantom IIs. This fighter mission lasted until late 1970 when the F-4Ds were reassigned. When U.S. forces began the drawdown from South Vietnam, the 67th TRW designation moved in July 1971 to Bergstrom AFB, Texas.

347th Tactical Fighter Wing

With the move of the RF-4Cs to Bergstrom, TAC activated its 347th Tactical Fighter Wing at Mountain Home, which has been phased down by PACAF at Yokota AB, Japan in May 1971. With the activation of the 347th, TAC chose it to be the first wing equipped with the new General Dynamics F-111F, an advanced version of the F-111A which had been unsuccessfully tested in the Vietnam War in Operation Combat Lancer 15 March to 22 April 1968. It differed from the F-111A in having more advanced electronics, more powerful engines, and major structural improvements.

The first F-111F entered service with the 374th TFW in January 1972. The entire wing became operationally ready in October 1972. The 347th had a short stay at Mountain Home, conducting F-111F training until October, when the 366 TFW moved from Vietnam to Mountain Home. Upon its arrival, the 366th absorbed all the personnel and equipment of the 347th, which was inactivated.

366th Fighter Wing

Main article: 366th Fighter Wing

The 366th Fighter Wing (in various designations) has been the host unit at Mountain Home for over 35 years, following its return from the Vietnam War in late 1972.

Before the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing's arrival at Mountain Home, the 389th, 390th, and 391st Tactical Fighter Squadrons had returned from South Vietnam, joined the 347th, and began converting to F-111F aircraft. For the first time since it left for Vietnam, the wing once again had its three original flying units.

During this time a tennant unit operated at the south end of the base. Det. 1, 320 BW carried out an alert mission with two B-52 Bombers and two KC-135 Tankers. The unit disbanded in the spring of 1975 and returned to Mather AFB.

Operations continued unchanged for several years. The wing tested its readiness in August 1976 when a border incident in Korea prompted the United States to augment its military contingent in South Korea as a show of force. The 366th deployed a squadron of 20 F-111 fighters, which reached Korea only 31 hours after receiving launch notification. Tensions eased shortly afterward and the detachment returned home.

In early 1991, the Air Force announced that the 366th would become the Air Force's premier "air intervention" composite wing. The wing would grow with the addition of a squadron of EF-111A Raven electronic warfare aircraft and a squadron of B-1B Lancer bombers to become a dynamic, five squadron wing with the ability to deploy rapidly and deliver integrated combat airpower.

The air intervention composite wing's rapid transition from concept to reality began in October 1991 when Air Force redesignated the wing as the 366th Wing. The wing's newly reactivated "fighter squadrons" became part of the composite wing in March 1992. The 389th Fighter Squadron began flying the dual-role F-16C Fighting Falcon, while the 391st Fighter Squadron was equipped with the new F-15E Strike Eagle. These two squadrons provide Gunfighters round-the-clock precision strike capability.

Following the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, the resultant initiation of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF), the 366th Wing once again got the call. While the 34th Bomb Squadron deployed to Diego Garcia as the B-1 component of the 28th Air Expeditionary Wing, the wing sent a Base Operations Support package to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, to transform the bare base into a fully functional airfield for large-scale combat operations. In October 2001, the 391st Fighter Squadron deployed to Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, while the 389th Fighter Squadron went to Al Udeid in November.

Following the wing's return from Southwest Asia, the Air Force began consolidating its B-1 Lancer and KC-135 Stratotanker forces. This led to the reallocation of the wing's bombers and tankers. The 22 ARS' aircraft began transferring to McConnell AFB, Kansas, in May 2002 and the squadron inactivated the following August. The 34 BS' B-1Bs began moving to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, in June and the squadron officially moved in September. Following the departure of these assets, the Air Force re-designated the 366th as a Fighter Wing. With these changes, the wing's 10-year mission as the Air Force's only standing air expeditionary wing came to an end. A continued reconstruction of the 366 Fighter Wing was official with the 2005 base realignment, coinciding with the large scale integration of the 150+ F-22 Raptors. After the F-16 departure, Mountain Home Air Force Base was chosen to become an F-15E installation because of its ideal training terrain range that is suited for air-to-ground, and air-to-air training missions.

Over the horizon radar

About 1985, Air Force Materiel Command activated the 776th Radar Squadron at Bangor ANGB. The mission of the squadron was to operate two Over the horizon radar (OTH-B) very long-range early warning radar sites. The squadron operated an OTH-B Transmitter site at Christmas Valley AFS, Oregon, 43°16′45″N 120°22′45″W / 43.27917°N 120.37917°W / 43.27917; -120.37917 (Christmas Valley AFS) and a receiver site at Tule Lake AFS, California 41°42′00″N 121°10′40″W / 41.70000°N 121.17778°W / 41.70000; -121.17778 (Tule Lake AFS). These systems were inactivated in 1997, and the unit was inactivated.

Thunderbirds crash

The base was the site of a Thunderbirds crash on 14 September 2003, which fortunately resulted in no fatalities.[3] Immediately after takeoff, Captain Chris Stricklin, flying Thunderbird 6, serial #87-0327 (opposing solo), attempted a "Split S" maneuver (which he had successfully performed over 200 times) based on an incorrect mean-sea-level elevation. Similar in desert appearance, MHAFB is 1,100 ft (340 m) higher than the Thunderbirds' home at Nellis AFB near Las Vegas, Nevada.

Climbing to only 1,670 ft (510 m) above ground level (AGL) instead of 2,500 ft (760 m), Stricklin had insufficient altitude to complete the descending half-loop maneuver. He guided the F-16C aircraft down runway 30, away from the spectators and ejected less than one second before impact. His parachute deployed when he was just above the ground and Stricklin survived with only minor injuries. No one on the ground was injured, but the $20 million aircraft was completely destroyed.[3]

Official procedure for demonstration "Split-S" maneuvers was changed, and the USAF now requires Thunderbird pilots and airshow ground controllers to both work in above mean-sea-level (AMSL) altitudes, as opposed to ground control working in AGL and pilots in AMSL, which led to two sets of numbers that had to be reconciled by the pilot. Thunderbird pilots now also climb an extra 1,000 ft (300 m) before performing the Split S maneuver.[3]

Previous names

  • Army Air Base, Mountain Home, Nov 1942
  • Mountain Home Army Air Field, 2 Dec 1943.
  • Mountain Home Air Force Base, 13 Jan 1948 – present

Major commands to which assigned

Temporary inactive status, 5 Oct 1945.
Subbase of Gowen Army Airfield, Idaho, 9 Oct 1945
Subbase of Walla Walla Army Airfield, Washington, 31 Dec 1945 – 30 September 1946
Activated on 1 December 1948
Inactivated on 25 April 1950
Subbase of Fairfield-Suisun (later, Travis) AFB, California, c. 1 Apr 1950 – 24 Jan 1951
Activated on 1 Feb 1951

Major units assigned

Intercontinental ballistic missile facilities

The 569th Strategic Missile Squadron Operated three HGM-25A Titan I ICBM sites: (1 Jun 1961 – 25 Jun 1965)

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