Kirtland Air Force Base - History - Modern Era

Modern Era

In 1992, the Kirtland Underground Munitions Storage Complex (KUMSC) was activated at Kirtland AFB. KUMSC is the largest storage facility for nuclear weapons in the world. The facility provides storage, shipping and maintenance for the United States Air Force and Navy. It is operated by the 898th Munitions Squadron (898 MUNS) and the 377th Security Forces Squadron (377 SFS). The facility is state of the art, with more than 300,000 square feet (28,000 m2) located entirely underground. Total number of deliverable nuclear warheads stored there is over 3,000. The majority of the munitions include the B83 and B61 gravity bombs, and W80, and W87 warheads for the Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM) and Minuteman III ICBM's.

On January 1, 1993, the base again changed hands as the newly formed Air Force Materiel Command acquired Kirtland AFB from Air Mobility Command. The 377th Air Base Wing was reactivated to become the base’s host organization.

On 1 April 1994 the 1550th Combat Crew Training Wing was re-designated as the 58th Special Operations Wing under Air Education and Training Command (AETC). In addition to the helicopter training, it also trained crews in special operations aircraft, including helicopters and modified C-130 Hercules aircraft. It performed pararescue training and search and rescue missions as well. Additionally, the wing trained for missile site support and airlift for distinguished visitors. At the same time the wing continued to deploy personnel worldwide for contingency and combat operations. The wing airlifted a federal task force to Pennsylvania to investigate the crash site of the fourth airliner following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Since that time the 58th has deployed personnel and equipment to support Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Today, the 58th SOW trains aircrews in the MC-130 Combat Shadow and Combat Talon I/II variants of the C-130 Hercules and the CV-22 Osprey for the Air Force Special Operations Command; the HC-130 Hercules and the HH-60G Pavehawk for the Air Combat Command and Pacific Air Forces; the UH-1 Huey for Air Force Space Command; and those aircrew operationally gained to those commands from the Air Force Reserve Command and the Air National Guard.

On March 31, 2006, the Nuclear Weapons Center was created and became the parent organization at Kirtland AFB. The 498th Armament Systems Wing was also created to be the maintenance arm of the NWC, while the 377th ABW remained the host support unit on base

In November 2009 the 377th Air Base Wing, commanded by Colonel Michael S. Duvall, and 498th Nuclear Systems Wing, commanded by Colonel Richard M. Stuckey, failed their nuclear security inspections. The inspections were conducted by Air Force Material Command and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

On 27 January 2010 the 898th Munitions Squadron, which manages and maintains 2,000 nuclear warheads in and around the base, was decertified. The action meant that the squadron could no longer perform its mission of safeguarding the weapons at the Kirtland Underground Munitions Maintenance and Storage Complex until it passed a nuclear surety inspection. The squadron was recertified on 11 June 2010.

Read more about this topic:  Kirtland Air Force Base, History

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