Rome Air Force Research Laboratory

Rome Air Force Research Laboratory

Infobox Military Structure
name=Rome Air Force Research Laboratory
partof = Air Force Materiel Command
location= Located near Rome, New York
coordinates= Coord|43|13|50.955|N|75|24|34.707|W|type:airport


caption= Griffiss Air Force Base, 1997

Location of Rome Air Force Research Laboratory (Griffiss AFB)
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controlledby= Air Force Materiel Command
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:"This article is about the former United States Air Force base in New York. For the USAF base in Texas of a similar name, see Carswell Air Force Base.": "For the civil use of the airfield since 1995, see Griffiss International Airport."The Rome Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL/RI) is one of eight United States Air Force Laboratories responsible for planning and executing the Air Force' science and technology program. It is part of the Air Force Materiel Command Air Force Research Laboratory, based at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

The AFRL/RI is located on the former Griffis Air Force Base, located in Rome, New York, about 15 mi NW of Utica. Missions at Griffiss AFB included fighter interceptors, electronic research, installation, and support activities, aerial refueling, and bombers. The airfield is now the site of the Oneida County Airport, which was recently renamed by the Oneida County Board of Legislators by a unanimous vote, the Griffiss International Airport.

Overview

The Rome Information Directorate develops information technologies for aerospace command and control, and its transition to air, space and ground systems. Its focus areas include a broad spectrum of technologies including information fusion and exploitation, communications and networking, collaborative environments, modeling and simulation, defensive information warfare and intelligent information systems technologies. Directorate scientists and engineers develop systems, concepts and technologies to enhance the Air Force's capability to successfully meet the challenges of the information age. In addition to its primary mission, the directorate has partnered with other elements of the federal government, national intelligence agencies, numerous allied nations, state and local governments, and more than 50 major universities to work problems of common interest.

History

Griffiss Air Force Base is a former USAF base located near Rome, New York. Ground was broken on August 2, 1941 for the Rome Air Depot, to be completed in 1942. After a series of names and realignments, the base was finally named Griffiss Air Force Base in 1948. The base was named in honor of Lt Col Townsend E. Griffiss (1900-1942). Colonel Griffiss died during World War II on a flight to England from the Soviet Union. While returning from an evaluation of ferrying routes for lend lease aircraft on 15 Feb 1942, RAF pilots mistook him for an enemy and shot his aircraft down southwest of Plymouth. Col. Griffiss was the first U.S. airman to be killed in the line of duty in the European Theater.

Major Commands to which assigned

* USAAF Materiel Div, 1 Feb 1942 (rdsgd Materiel Comd, 16 Mar 1942)
* USAAF Materiel and Services, 17 Jul 1944 (rdsgd AAF Technical Service Comd, 31 Aug 1944
* Air Technical Service Comd, 1 Jul 1945
* Air Materiel Comd, 9 Mar 1946)
* Air Research and Development Command, 2 Apr 1951
* Air Materiel Command, 1 Jul 1954: Redesignated: Air Force Logistics Command, 1 Apr 1961
* Strategic Air Command, 1 Jul 1970 - 1 June 1992
* Air Combat Command, 1 June 1992 - 30 September 1995
* Air Force Materiel Command, 1 October 1995 - Present

Major Units assigned

* Rome Air Depot, 1 Feb 1942 - 3 Jan 1955
* Rome Air Material Area, 1 Feb 1943 - 25 Jun 1947
* 4104th Army Air Force Base Unit, 1 Apr 1944 - 15 Apr 1945
* 65th Reconnaissance Group, 27 Dec 1946 - 27 Jun 1949
* 1st Fighter-Interceptor Group, 15 Aug 1950 - 3 Jun 1951: 71st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 15 Aug - 21 Oct 1950: 27th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 15 Aug 1950 - 1 Oct 1959
* 6530th Air Base Wing, 12 Jun 1951 - 1 Aug 1952
* Rome Air Force Depot, 3 Jan 1955 - 1 Apr 1967
* 465th Air Refueling Squadron, 8 Oct 1955 - 1 Jul 1959
* 2856th Air Base Wing, 16 Feb 1958 - 1 Jul 1970
* 4247th Air Defense Group, 8 Feb 1957 - 15 Oct 1959: 49th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 1 Jul 1959 - 7 Jul 1987
* HQ, Northeast Air Defense Sector, 1 Jan 1960 - 1 Oct 1979
* 4309th Strategic Wing, 1 Aug 1958 - 1 Feb 1963
* 41st Air Refueling Squadron, 5 Jan 1959 - 1992
* 416th Bombardment Wing, 1 Feb 1963 - 1995
* 485th Engineering Installation group 1972–1995
* 21st Air Division, 31 Aug - 23 Sep 1983
* 24th Air Division, 1 Dec 1983 - 30 Sep 1990
* 509th Air Refueling Squadron, 1 Jul 1990 - 1 Oct 1994

Operational History

On 3 April 1941, the War Department began looking for an area to construct an Air Depot in central New York. Orders to begin construction came from the War Department on 23 June 1941. Facilities were completed in Feb 1942, and flight operations on the depot airfield began on 18 Feb 1942.

Rome Air Depot

On 1 February 1942, the Rome Air Depot was activated and throughout World War II the depot provided aircraft engine maintenance and repair, and trained air depot groups in engine repair. With the end of the war and the sharp reduction of AAF aircraft operations, activities were sharply curtailed in the fall of 1945. The Rome Air Depot continued operations well into the 1960s as an Air Force Logistics Command Air Materiel Area (AMA) supporting USAF electronics and RADAR systems. The depot began a phasedown in the early 1960s, with the depot closing in 1967 with its functions being transferred to other AFLC Air Materiel Areas.

Air Defense

Although many aircraft landed at Griffiss during the war, the airfield had no permanently stationed flying units. It wasn't until after World War II, that the Air Force Reserve 65th Reconnaissance Group conducted aerial photo and mapping operations from Griffiss from 27 Dec 1946 until being inactivated on 27 Jun 1949.

On 3 Oct 1950 that the Air Defense Command (ADC) 1st Fighter Interceptor Group became the first permanently assigned USAF flying unit at Griffiss. ADC units were stationed at the for the next 30 years as Griffiss became a center for the Northeast air defense mission, and was headquarters of the Northeast Air Defense Sector. The 4727th Air Defense Group, equipped with F-89J came to Griffiss in February 1957.

In May 1959, the 465th Fighter Interceptor Squadron was assigned to Griffiss with F-89 Scorpion all-weather fighters. Late the next year, the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron assumed operational control over the 465th and became a major tenant at Griffiss. The 49th operated F-101 Voodoos until late 1968, when it was re-equipped with F-106 Delta Darts. The 49th was the last operational unit to fly the F-106s, prior to being deactivated July 1, 1987.

The 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron replaced the 4727th ADG in October 1959 and converted from the McDonnell F-101 Voodoo to the Convair F-106 Delta darts in late 1968. The 49th FIS was inactivated at Griffiss AFB on July 1, 1987, when the air defense mission was transferred to the Air National Guard.

Beginning in 1960, Griffiss became the headquarters of the Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS). NEADS was responsible for defending a half million square miles of air space including New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago and other major cities. The base had been home also for the 24th Air Division since September 1983, following a major overhaul of the air defense force structure. Its air defense responsibility was to equip, administer and train combat-ready forces for the northeast United States. In 1987, the 24th Air Division's area of responsibility was expanded as part of a major restructuring of North American air defense and following the inactivation of the 23rd Air Division at Tyndall AFB, the 24th became responsible for the entire eastern United States. The 24th AD was inactivated on 30 Sep 1990.

Rome Laboratory

Electronic research began at the Rome Air Depot in 1949. The Watson Laboratory complex was transferred to Rome from Red Bank, New Jersey between 1950 and 1951. The Rome Air Development Center was begun at the base on June 12, 1951, as a response to the specific electronics needs of air forces learned by the U.S. Army Signal Corps during the war. The RADC would be renamed to Rome Laboratory in 1991 as a response to its changing role in research and development.

Strategic Air Command

see|416th Air Expeditionary Group "which is the current designation of the unit"The 4039th Strategic Wing of Strategic Air Command was activated as an associate unit at Griffiss AFB in January 1959. In a effort to perpetuate the lineage of many units with illustrious World War II records, SAC devised a program to activate Air Force-controlled units inactivated at the end of World War II. On 1 Feb 1963, the 4039th Strategic Wing was redesignated the 416th Bombardment Wing. Similarly, the 75th BMS, a unit of the 4039th, became the 668th Bombardment Squadron, one of the four squadrons previously assigned to the 416th BG.

The 41st Air Refueling Squadron and the 56th Munitions MaintenanceS quadron were reassigned to the 416th BMW and retained their designations. The 41st Air Refueling Squadron was activated on 1 Jan 1959, flying the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, to provide aerial refueling for SAC bombers. KC-135A 58-0030 nicknamed "City of Rome" was the first tanker assigned to the 41st AREFS

The wing's tankers deployed to Clark AB in the Philippines in December 1964 to provide aerial refueling of tactical combat aircraft operating in Southeast Asia. By July, the wing's tankers and crews began supporting B-52 Arc light missions. The wing's first bomber crew deployed to the theater in June 1968. At times during this era, more than half of the wing's B-52 crews were on temporary duty in Southeast Asia. Another milestone in the 416th BW history occurred in July 1970 when the wing assumed host responsibility of Griffiss AFB. The base passed from the Air Force Logistics Command to the Strategic Air Command. The 416th received its first Short Range Attack Missile in November 1972. By June 1973, each of the wing's aircraft had been modified to carry up to 20 missiles on wing pylons and on a rotary launcher in the bomb bay. Congress announced in May 1979 that the 416th BW would be the first wing to receive the Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM). The wing received two Air Launched Cruise Missiles on 11 Jan 1981. These missiles were initially used for environmental testing and maintenance training. On 15 Aug 1981, the first B-52G modified to carry the missile was returned to the wing and the first ALCM training flight was launched 15 Sept 1981. On 21 Sep 1982, the wing conducted the first ALCM operational test launch by an operational wing. The 416th received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award in recognition of its work with the ALCM.

Beginning in November 1987, Griffiss AFB became home to the United States Army 10th Aviation Brigade. The Brigade was part of the reactivated 10th Mountain Division and remained at Griffiss until facilities were constructed for the division at Ft. Drum. The brigade flew three types of helicopters; the UH-1 for transport, the AH-1F for attack and the OH-58A for reconnaissance, at the time. In May 1990, the wing began re-engining its KC-135 fleet with High Bypass Turbofan engines. The now designed KC-135R had extended range, increased power, noise reductions and more importantly, could give more fuel to receivers since its new engines were consuming a lot less. By July 1990, the wing's last KC-135A had undergone the re-engining process, just in time to display its new capabilities in Operations Desert Shield and Storm.

The 509th Air Refueling Squadron was formally activated at Griffiss AFB on 20 Sept 1990 with the newest tanker model, the KC-135R. The 509th was assigned to the 509th BW until 1990. In Desert Storm, the wing's B-52s and crews flew 148 combat sorties for more than 11,000 flying hours dropping 6,274 bombs equaling 4,394,350 pounds of ordnance, while the KC-135s flew 1,100 sorties and transferred 100 million pounds of fuel. On 9 May 1991, B-52G 58-0225 "Mohawk Valley" piloted by the Wing's Commander, Col.Mike Loughran, landed at Griffiss AFB for the last time to be preserved on base. In July 1991, the 416th BW began converting from the B-52G to the H model. The upgrade was concluded in October 1991 when the wing received its last B-52H. The 416th BW was redesignated the 416th Wing on Sept.1, 1991. Concurrent with the redesignation was a complete restructuring of the wing, eliminating the three deputy commander levels and organizing the wing into a four-group structure; the 416th Operations, 416th Logistics, 416th Support and 416th Medical groups.

With the inactivation of Strategic Air Command, the 416th Wing was assigned to the new Air Combat Command on 1 June 1992. Under ACC, the wing was redesignated the 416th Bomb Wing and realigned under Ninth Air Force. The Wing's KC-135R were reassigned to the 380th Air Refueling Wing at Plattsburgh AFB under the newly activated Air Mobility Command. The 41st ARS was inactivated on February 15, 1993.

BRAC Realignment

Griffiss AFB was realigned for civilian and non-combat purposes in the early 1990s. The base's final "Commander's Day" was held on 13 August 1994 with many neighboring units attending this final open house. November saw the 416th BW transfer its last B-52H with the aircraft being reassigned to Minot AFB and the 5th Bomb Wing.

The 416th Bomb Wing was officially deactivated on 30 September 1995 and USAF flight operations at Griffiss AFB ended.

The facilty is now home to the Griffiss Business and Technology Park, and it is still home to the Rome Research Site of the Air Force Research Lab. At its peak, the base was the largest employer in Oneida County, New York.

The base was designated a Superfund site in 1987. [ [http://www.epa.gov/superfund/sites/npl/ny.htm NPL Sites in New York | National Priorities List | US EPA] ] Griffiss was the site of the notorious Woodstock 1999 concert festival. The base was chosen for its defensibility.

References

* Mueller, Robert (1989). Volume 1: Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Office of Air Force History, United States Air Force, Washington, D.C. ISBN 0912799536; 0160022614
* Aerospace Defense Command publication, The Interceptor, January 1979 (Volume 21, Number 1).

External links

* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/facility/griffiss.htm Griffiss AFB at GlobalSecurity.org]


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