Hanscom Air Force Base

Hanscom Air Force Base

"For the civil airport use of this facility, see Hanscom Field"Infobox Airport
name = Hanscom Field Hanscom Air Force Base
nativename = Part of Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC)

image-width = 300
caption = Hanscom AFB - 29 March 1995
type = Public / Military
owner = Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport)
operator =
city-served = Bedford and surrounding towns
location = Bedford, Massachusetts
elevation-f = 133
elevation-m = 41
coordinates = coord|42|28|12|N|071|17|21|W|type:airport|display=inline

Hanscom Air Force Base airport codes|BED|KBED|BED is a United States Air Force base located 5 mi SSW of Bedford, Massachusetts, about 15 mi NW of Boston. It lies immediately south and east of Hanscom Field.

Hanscom is the headquarters of the Electronic Systems Center (ESC), one of the product centers of the Air Force Materiel Command (AFMC). In addition to this primary function, which is its host unit, Hanscom supports the Air Force Research Laboratory's Sensors and Space Vehicles directorates, MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the MITRE corporation, and various other companies and groups related to the Department of Defense.

The host unit at Hanscom is the 66th Air Base Wing (66 ABW) which supports the Electronic Systems Center as well as over 3,000 active duty, Reserve and National Guard military personnel and DoD civilians who work and live at Hanscom Air Force Base. Additionally, the 66 ABW supports over 100,000 retired military personnel, annuitants and spouses living in the six-state New England area.


Hanscom's mission within the Air Force is unique; it is the home base to no Air Force flying activities. Its mission, rather, is to support research and electronic systems instead of hosting military aircraft.Hanscom AFB does not have its own runways; it uses the runways of Hanscom Field, a civilian airport adjacent to the Air Force Base. Less than one percent of the airplanes that land on the runways of Hanscom Field are military aircraft.

Units Stationed at Hanscom AFB

* 66th Air Base Wing
* Electronic Systems Center
* 350th Electronic Systems Wing
A unit of the Air Force Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom AFB, Mass. The wing develops, acquires, fields and sustains systems for C2, ISR and communication capabilities for Air Force, joint and coalition operations. It services five major commands, three U.S. services, seven combatant commanders, three national agencies, NORAD and NATO. The 350th ELSW delivers integrated, transformational capabilities and information dominance and executes $14 billion in programs.
* 653d Electronic Systems Wing
The wing acquires, delivers and sustains AF and Joint systems to include communications, intelligence and airspace management capabilities supporting AF Global Continious Operations. The Provides engineering/integration to optimize delivery of net-centric capabilities to warfighter for effects-based combat operations support.
* 551st Electronic Systems Wing
A unit of the Air Force Electronic Systems Center which delivers superior capabilities from our assigned programs: AWACS, Joint STARS, E-10A/MP-RTIP, Mission Planning, and Weather providing strategic support to ongoing operations, identifying capability information integration opportunities and equipping the war fighter with the technical edge needed to meet combatant mission requirements.
* 554th Electronic Systems Wing
Develops, fields sustains and operates worldwide communications-computer and force protection systems and capabilities for the President and Secretary of Defense, CJCS, unified combatant commanders, services and specified Department of Defense and non-DoD agencies to direct military forces. Administers contracts for the procurement of information technology systems and services supporting DoD-wide customers.
* Air Force Research Laboratory's Information Directorate [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Force_Research_Laboratory]
Develops systems, concepts and technologies to enhance the Air Force's capability to successfully meet the challenges of the information age. They develop and integrate programs to acquire data. They also find better ways to store, process and fuse data to make it into information.


About 3,800 people work for the ESC at Hanscom; over half of the ESC's personnel, and an additional 1,500, work for the 66th Air Base Wing.

Hanscom's personnel composition is unusual within the Air Force. At most facilities, enlisted Air Force members outnumber officers by a ratio of nearly four to one. At Hanscom, however, officers outnumber enlisted members by the same ratio. Additionally, while about one-fourth of Air Force employees are civilians, at Hanscom about three-fourths of the workforce are civilians.

Like most U.S. military facilities, Hanscom is somewhat of a city in itself. It provides housing to members of the military, as well as a library, chapel, clinic, commissary, post office, and Base Exchange. In addition, the base has a Burger King, a shoppette (somewhat of a 7-11, the gas station is across the street), a Dunkin' Donuts, a sub shop, a car wash, an Olympic-size swimming pool, an inn, a Consolidated Club for officers and enlistedman, a bowling alley, a sports and fitness center, and a movie theater. The miniature golf course has been demolished to pave way for part of the fitness center. The base is still considered small compared to other bases by local residents.

In 2006, a carbon monoxide gas scare forced the base to install carbon monoxide detectors. The housing is being revamped, as houses on Scott Circle, Patterson Road, and Offut are planned to be torn down while houses are being built in other areas of the base. This project has somewhat troubled residents as it occasionally gets in the way of walking from one place to the other. The current status of these buildings is for the most part unknown, although construction has started and is being finished on the Scott side of the base. Some of the houses are already being occupied.

Hanscom has two schools: Hanscom Primary School and Hansom Middle School with the elementary supporting kindergarten to third grade and the middle school with grades 4-8. Teens going to high school choose to attend either Bedford High School, Shawsheen Technical High School, or Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School.


Hanscom Air Force Base is named after Laurence G. Hanscom (1906-1941) in honor of the pilot, aviation enthusiast, and State House reporter who was killed in a plane crash at Saugus, Massachusetts when he had been lobbying for the establishment of an airfield in Bedford. Laurence G. Hanscom was a reporter for the Worcester Telegram-Gazette. Hanscom was active in early aviation, founding the Massachusetts Civil Air Reserve. The base was named in his honor on 26 Jun 1941.

Pervious names of Hanscom Air Force Base were:United States Army Air Forces
* Laurence G. Hanscom Field, Boston Auxiliary Air-port at Bedford, 26 Jun 1941
* Bedford Municipal Airport, 29 Jun 1942
* Bedford Army Air Field, 8 Apr 1943United States Air Force
* Hanscom Airport, 15 Oct 1947
* Bedford Air Field, Mar 1948
* Hanscom Field, Jun 1948
* Laurence G. Hanscom Field, 24 Dec 1952
* Laurence G. Hanscom Air Force Base, 22 Jun 1974.

Major Commands

United States Army Air Forces
* AAF Technical Service Comd, 15 Oct 1944 - 1 Jul 1945
* Air Technical Service Comd, 1 Jul 1945 9 Mar 1946
* Air Materiel Comd, 9 Mar 1946 - 1 Jul 1946
* Air Defense Comd, 1 Jul 1946 - 1 Dec 1948United States Air Force
* Continental Air Command, 1 Dec 1948 - 1 Jan 1951
* Air Defense Command, 1 Jan 1951 - 1 Aug 1951
* Air Research and Development Command, 1 Aug 1951 - 1 Apr 1961
* Air Force Systems Command, 1 Apr 1961 - 1 Jul 1992
* Air Force Materiel Command, 1 Jul 1992 - Present

Base Operating Units

United States Army Air Forces
* 79th Fighter Group HQ, 2 Jul 1942 - 22 Oct 1942
* 432d Base HQ and Air Base Sq, 22 Oct 1942 - 1 Apr 1944
* 144th AAF Base Unit, 1 Apr 1944 - 15 Oct 1944
* 4147th AAF Base Unit, 15 Oct 1944 - 25 Feb 1946
* 4161st AAF Base Unit, 25 Feb 1946 - 28 Aug 1948United States Air Force
* 2234th AF Reserve Training Cen, 28 Aug 1948 - 28 Jun 1951
* 6520th Air Base Gp, 28 Jun 1951 - 1 Apr 1960
* 3245th Air Base Wg, 1 Apr 1960 25 Jul 1964
* 3245th Air Base Gp, 15 Jul 1964 - 1994
* 66th Air Base Wing, 1994 - Present

Operational History

Founded at the start of World War II, the focus of Hanscom had shifted from combat missions to radar technology development by the end of the war. After the war, Hanscom encouraged the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to institute a research laboratory, Lincoln Laboratory, with which it collaborated to develop the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense system. In 1961, Hanscom became the headquarters for the Air Force's Electronic Systems Division. Hanscom developed several important systems for intelligence-gathering aircraft in the 1970s and 1980s, underwent significant expansion in the 1980s, and survived widespread base closures in the early 1990s.


The Bedford airport came into existence at a time when the U.S. was considering entry into World War II, when new airports were created across the country that could serve for future national defense.

On the recommendation of the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission headed by Crocker Snow, Massachusetts Governor Leverett Saltonstall advocated on January 2, 1941 that the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Works develop new airport facilities to serve as an auxiliary to Boston Airport. On May 14 of that year, the Massachusetts Legislature purchased 500 acres (2 km²) of farmland from the towns of Bedford, Lincoln, Concord, and Lexington for $60,000.

On May 24, the federal Civil Aeronautics Administration told the Massachusetts Commissioner of Public Works that $229,000 was available to build the airport under the Defense Landing Act. This act, also known as Public Law 812, was passed on October 9, 1940 and appropriated $40,000,000 in federal funds for the development of 250 new public airports across the United States to support national defense. The groundbreaking ceremony, with Governor Saltonstall in attendance, was held on July 17, 1941.

On July 1, 1942, after the U.S. had entered the war, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts leased the airport to the U.S. War Department for use by the newly formed Army Air Force. The next day, the 85th Fighter Squadron, equipped with Curtiss P-40 fighter aircraft, arrived in Bedford to prepare for overseas deployment. It was one of several fighter squadrons, including the 318th Fighter Squadron, that would train at the Bedford Army Air Base in 1942 and 1943 and later go on to combat in North Africa and Europe. By the end of the war, there were 95 Army and Navy planes and two large hangars at the Bedford facility.

Early radar innovations

Later in the war, Hanscom began to work more closely with MIT on radar systems. In 1944, the wartime Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology moved its local testing site for new airborne and ground radar systems from Boston Airport to Hanscom Field. July 28, 1945 marked Hanscom's first disaster. That Saturday, a Mitchell B-25 bomber took off from Hanscom Field bound for Newark, New Jersey, became lost in the fog over New York City, and crashed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building, starting a major fire that left 16 dead and twice as many injured.

On September 20, 1945, the Army Air Force created Cambridge Field Station, in Cambridge, Massachusetts next to MIT. The Cambridge facility was charged with continuing the Army Air Force’s programs in radar, radio, and electronic research after the dissolution of the wartime laboratories of MIT and Harvard University. It recruited scientists and engineers from the laboratories and took over MIT’s experimental radar test facilities at Hanscom, which included the Microwave Early Warning ground radar located on "MEW Hill" next to a runway. The Cambridge Field Station was renamed the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratories (AFCRL) on July 5, 1949. In 1950, it demonstrated technology for transmitting radar data to a computer. Aircraft echoes picked up by the MEW radar at Hanscom Field were sent over telephone lines back to the Barta Building at MIT where they were processed and displayed on the Whirlwind computer’s cathode ray screen.

By 1947, East Coast Aviation Corporation was conducting a general aviation sales and service business, and an aviation flying school from Hanscom, while the Raytheon Manufacturing Company was using a hangar there to conduct radio research and guided missile work for the Navy.

In 1947, the Army Air Force separated from the Army, and the United States Air Force was born. In 1951, the Air Defense Command (ADC) granted jurisdiction over both the AFCRL and Hanscom to the newly operational Air Research and Development Command (ARDC). The events of World War II exemplified the military importance of radar and led to Hanscom’s postwar role. After 1945, the facility became the Air Force’s center for the development and acquisition of electronic systems. Hanscom’s work also led to the development of a nationally important high-technology area along the new Route 128 that was opened in 1951.

On October 12, 1951, the Secretary of the Air Force informed the Governor that there was a military requirement for most of Hanscom Field and requested that the Commonwealth donate the field to the Air Force. The Governor responded that the Commonwealth would prefer to lease the field to the Federal Government. After negotiations, a compromise dividing the 1,100 acres (4.5 km²) of land was finalized on May 7, 1952. According to the agreement, (a) 641 acres (2.6 km²) (the airfield facilities) were leased by the Commonwealth to the United States, (b) 396 adjacent acres (1.6 km²) were ceded by the Commonwealth to the United States, and (c) 93 acres (0.4 km²) were retained by the Commonwealth. The terms of the lease specified that it would last for 25 years and would be renewable for an additional 25 years, but would expire no later than June 30, 2002.

Lincoln Lab and SAGE

On December 15, 1950, General Hoyt Vandenberg, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, asked MIT to establish an electronics laboratory to work on an air defense system for the continental United States. MIT responded by initiating Project Charles on February 6, 1951. On August 6 of the same year, Project Charles’ final report was published, outlining a program for Project Lincoln. On August 27, the ARDC assumed responsibility for the administration of Project Lincoln, delegating this responsibility to AFCRL on 7 September, 1951. On April 1, 1952, the first building for Project Lincoln was occupied. The 6520th Test Support Wing, which had been assigned to AFCRL, was charged with flying test aircraft for Lincoln as well operating and maintaining Laurence G. Hanscom Field. Project Lincoln was renamed Lincoln Laboratory on April 17. Lincoln Lab soon began work on the experimental "Cape Cod" air defense network. Hanscom’s 6520th Test Support Wing logged in thousands of hours of flying time to provide test and evaluation for it. The 6520th Test Support Wing was later made the 6520th Air Base Group, and in the fall of 1957, Lincoln Laboratory’s experimental radar for detection of ballistic missiles began operations at the Laboratory’s Millstone Hill Field Station in Westford, Massachusetts.

The renewal of the lease and the work of Lincoln Lab forced an expansion of the facilities at Hanscom Field. On October 12, 1953 the runways were reconfigured. "MEW Hill" was leveled, the main east-west runway was expanded, and two large new hangars were built over the old north-south runway. Military housing was constructed. On April 26, 1954, AFCRL's Electronics Research Directorate and the Research Services Division, were dedicated at Hanscom Field. On June 12, 1955, the official headquarters for AFCRL moved from Albany Street in Cambridge to Lawrence G. Hanscom Field. On the same day, AFCRL's headquarters building (Building 1600) and a base chapel were completed at Hanscom Field. In 1959, groundbreaking would occur for the new Base School facilities and military personnel and their families would begin moving into the newly constructed Capehart housing, now known as Flintlock Ridge. On May 2, 1960, AFCRL's Electronic and Geophysics Directorates would be reassigned from Cambridge to Hanscom Field, moving the last remnant of AFCRL to Hanscom.

In January 1956, Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Maude, AFCRC Commander at Hanscom, Admiral Edward Cochran, Dr. George E. Valley of Lincoln Laboratory, and Col. Dorr Newton held a press conference announcing the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) System for air defense. SAGE was designed to meet the new postwar threat of attack by long-range, nuclear-armed bombers on the North American continent. To integrate the SAGE system, the Air Research and Development Command (ADRC) established the Air Defense Systems Management Office (ADSMO) at Hanscom with staff from the ADRC, Air Materiel Command (AMC), and Air Defense Command (ADC) on June 3, 1957. However, the organization did not have enough technical support or authority to work effectively. To correct these problems, ARDC redesignated ADSMO the Air Defense Systems Integration Division (ADSID) on February 24, 1958 and put a general officer, Major General Kenneth P. Bergquist, in charge.

On March 3, 1958, Secretary of the Air Force James H. Douglas asked MIT to temporarily undertake responsibility as principal systems engineering advisor for the Air Force's part in integrating the SAGE air defense system, and to sponsor the formation of a permanent successor contract organization. MIT responded by forming MITRE on July 10. On June 22, AFCCDD recommended to ARDC that the MITRE Corporation be permitted to contract with the Department of Defense and DoD agencies other than the Air Force. General Bernard Adolph Schriever, ARDC Commander, agreed in principle that July.

In early October, 1959, the ARDC was reorganized into the Air Force Research Division (later the Office of Aerospace Research or OAR) and three field organizations. To coordinate the command and control systems, one of the field organizations, the new Air Force Command And Control Development Division (AFCCDD) took over most of the responsibilities of ADSID, which was discontinued on October 1, 1960. AFCCDD was activated on November 16 with Colonel Herschel D. Mahon as commander. On July 1, The Rome Air Development Center (RADC) at Griffiss Air Force Base, New York, was assigned to AFCCDD. MITRE was made principal contract advisor to AFCCDD in March 1960.

The SAGE system was completed in the early 1960s. It revolutionized air defense and also contributed significantly to advances in air traffic control systems. As the SAGE system matured, the Air Force pursued the development of a number of advanced command, control, and communications systems. SAGE continued to be used into the 1980s.


In early November 1959, Air Materiel Command’s Electronic Systems Center (ESC) was activated Hanscom Field as the counterpart of AFCCDD there. Major General Clyde H. Mitchell was named ESC commander. The ESC became operation on January 1, 1960.

On March 20, 1961, the Secretary of the Air Forced announced that Air Materiel Command would be redesignated Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC) and that ARDC would become Air Force Systems Command (AFSC). At Hanscom, this combined ARDC’s AFCCDD and AMC's ESC into the Electronic Systems Division (ESD) of AFSC.

The ESD was activated on 1 April, 1961 with Major General Kenneth P. Bergquist as ESD Commander and Brigadier General Charles H. Terhune, Jr., as Vice Commander. In addition to its headquarters at Hanscom, ESD included the 3245th Air Base Wing and the Rome Air Development Center. Staff elements of the former AFCCDD and ESC were combined over the next three months. For 1961, ESD had no financial plan of its own, using the approved financial plans for AFCCDD and ESC instead. ESD was created to meet the new threat of ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads. It was instrumental in the construction of the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) as well as the new NORAD headquarters in the Cheyenne Mountain complex. Later, ESD would grow to accommodate new weapons systems and space platforms.

MITRE dedicated its new main building on Route 62 in Bedford in honor of H. Rowan Gaither on September 20, 1962. The building had been completed the previous July. The cornerstone laying ceremony the new ESD headquarters building (Building 1606) at Hanscom Field occurred on October 30. The building was accepted on September 20 of the next year and fully occupied by the middle of October. The principal street names at Hanscom Field were changed from alphabetical designations to the names of prominent Air Force bases around this time. On October 8, 1964, Lincoln Laboratory antenna on Haystack Hill, Tyngsboro, Massachusetts, located next to the Millstone Hill radar, was dedicated by General Bernard A. Schriever, Commander of AFSC. Later, in March 1969, Dr. John L. McLucas, president of the MITRE Corporation, would be appointed Under Secretary of the Air Force.

James E. Webb, National Aeronautics and Space Administrator, announced NASA’s decision to build an electronics research center in the Greater Boston area in a letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives on January 31, 1964. On the same day, three New York members of the United States Congress (Senators Jacob Koppel Javits and Kenneth B. Keating and Representative Alexander Pirnie) proposed to the Secretary of the Air Force that, in view of this decision, ESD should move to Griffiss AFB in Rome, New York, so that NASA might occupy the ESD facilities at Hanscom Field. On February 3, Webb, accompanied by Major General Don R. Ostrander, Commander of the Office of Aerospace Research, and Governor Endicott Peabody, visited Hanscom Field, calling on AFCRL, Lincoln Lab, and ESD headquarters. On March 3, Major General John K. Hester, Air Force Assistant Vice Chief of Staff, asked the AFSC to "initiate a detailed cost-effectiveness study" of the impact on the ESD mission of the proposed move of ESD to Griffiss AFB. On 6 March, AFSC assigned this task to ESD. Colonel Francis J. Hoermann, ESD Comptroller, was in charge of the preparation of the resulting "study of Proposed Move of ESD to Griffiss AFB," which was released on 6 April 1964. Early in April, the Secretary of the Air Force decided that ESD would remain at Hanscom Field.

On August 19, 1966, a simulated bombing mission was conducted at Hanscom Field to demonstrate the capabilities of a jeep-mounted communications unit developed by ESD. The units would later be used by Forward Air Control (FAC) personnel to request air support and to communicate with strike aircraft and ground troops. On September 23, 1970, the government accepted Scott Circle, a contracted 100-unit Military Family Housing project at Hanscom. On December 31 of that year, The Haystack Microwave Research Facility in Tyngsboro was transferred from USAF to MIT. In March 1971, AFCRL's Special Computation Laboratory Building was completed at Hanscom. The next year, ESD implemented Project PHOENIX by assigning the USAF Dispensary (later the USAF Clinic), Personnel, Information, and History to the 3245th Air Base Group. May 9 and August 6, 1971 marked two anti-war protests at Hanscom Field. A teach-in would occur at Hanscom's gates on April 15 of the next year.

In August 1972, Hanscom Field participated in a major project to relocate USAF weather observing equipment to reduce manpower requirements along with 110 Air Force installations worldwide. Air Force weather observations for Hanscom Field were discontinued on November 3 of that year, passing to the FAA. On February 15, 1973 Colonel Sigurd L. Jensen, Jr. Commander of the 3245th Air Base Group, presided over the first meeting of the Joint Services Coordinating Committee, an organization charged with assisting the towns of Lexington and Concord in the official observance of the United States Bicentennial. On September 1, 1973, in light of Hanscom's primary mission of service to ESD, Air Force flying activities at Hanscom Field were officially terminated. Hanscom had hosted P-51 and F-86 fighters, C-46 and C-124 cargo aircraft, T-6 and T-33 trainers, and B-25 and B-29 bombers.


In 1967, a compromise was reached between U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara who wanted to merge the Army Reserve into the Army National Guard, and the United States Congress who wanted to maintain the Army Reserve as it then existed. Under the compromise plan, all of the combat divisions and most separate combat brigades of the Army Reserve were deactivated with a corresponding increase in the National Guard; at the same time, non-divisional combat support and combat service support units were reallocated in the Army Reserve. ["Id." at 174-177.] The fourteen area corps were deactivated; in their place, eighteen army reserve commands ("ARCOMs") were established. Commanded by a reserve major general, each ARCOM served as a regional non-tactical peacetime headquarters for unrelated support units. Each ARCOMs was, in turn, assigned to one of five continental U.S. armies ("CONUSAs") under Continental Army Command ("CONARC"). On 22 April 1968, the number and shoulder-sleeve insignia of the former 94th Infantry Division were re-allocated to the new 94th Army Reserve Command, headquartered at Hanscom Air Force Base and subordinate to First United States Army.

While the development of SAGE and the ESD were substantial and mandated significant expansion of Hanscom's facilities, Hanscom arguably came to the greatest prominence in the 1970s and 1980s with the development of groundbreaking aircraft surveillance equipment. The first major achievement came in the development of an airborne radar system. While ESD's first radar systems were ground-based, in the 1960s it had started to focus on overcoming the "ground clutter” problem. These efforts came to fruition in the 1970s, when ESD introduced the Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS), which represented a technological achievement for airspace surveillance. AWACS' defining saucer-shaped radar is now able to simultaneously track up to 300 airborne and ocean-going targets up to 250 miles (400 km) away.

Also in the mid-1970s, Hanscom received recognition from the public and the DoD. On June 22, 1974 Laurence G. Hanscom Field was redesignated Laurence G. Hanscom Air Force Base (shortened to Hanscom Air Force Base in 1977) under DAF Special Order GA-34. On August 31, the Air Force lease of the airfield portion of the facility was terminated and that land reverted back to state control. Hanscom opened its doors to the public twice around this time. First, the 351st General Hospital, an Army Reserve unit, hosted an open house on September 22, 1974. Second, on July 6, 1975, Hanscom’s Bicentennial Salute was celebrated by an open house with demonstrations provided by security police working dogs, model aircraft, the Bedford Minutemen, the USAF North Stars, and the USAF Thunderbirds.

In January 1976, AFCRL was redesignated as the Air Force Geophysics Laboratory (AFGL) and its Microwave Physics and Solid State Sciences Divisions was activated at Hanscom AFB. On April 27, Hanscom AFB was named a Bicentennial Air Force installation by the American Revolution Bicentennial Administration. On May 8, Colonel Richard A. Shropshire, Base Commander, was the special guest at the dedication ceremonies of the Minuteman National Historical Park, which included a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the doorway of the new Visitor Center. On the 25th anniversary of its establishment (November 1, 1976), MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory was presented the Meritorious Service Medal. On February 25, 1977, Dr. Gerald P. Dinneen, director of MIT Lincoln Laboratory, was nominated by President Jimmy Carter to be Assistant Secretary of Defense (Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence) and later confirmed by the Senate.

Groundbreaking for the $450,000 Hanscom Federal Credit Union facility occurred on July 6, 1978. On July 21, Colonel Donald J. Hall, 3245th Air Base Group Commander, announced the award of a $3,800,300 contract to the Juno Construction Corporation, Yonkers, New York, for the construction of a new Commissary at Hanscom AFB. On September 5, 1979, Hanscom once again became site of an open house. This gathering featured the Air Force Thunderbird aerial demonstration team and drew a crowd of over 85,000 spectators.

On April 18, 1980, the base's most significant period of construction in the last four decades began with the awarding of a $7,386,500 contract to the E. C. Blanchard Construction Company, Lynn, Massachusetts, for construction of a new Systems Management Engineering Facility (SMEF) located adjacent to ESD Headquarters Building 1606. On April 24, Lieutenant General Robert T. Marsh, ESD Commander, took part in the dedication ceremony for the mounting of an F-86 Sabre fighter aircraft. Believed to be one of those assigned to Hanscom AFB in the 1950s, it was mounted as a static display and dedicated as a historic centerpiece of the base. Another open house took place on September 20 as part of Boston’s 350th Jubilee Celebration. It featured the Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team and drew a crowd estimated at over 230,000 spectators. On October 2, Congress approved construction of a Composite Medical Dental Facility at Hanscom at a cost of $7,000,000. On October 31, the cornerstone laying ceremony was held for the new SEMF Facility. In attendance were ESD Commander General Robert T. Marsh, the Commander of the 3245th Air Base Group, Colonel Thomas O. Duff, and several distinguished guests including Ms. Antonia Handler Chayes, Under Secretary of the Air Force. On December 16, Lieutenant General Marsh and Major General Charles E. Woods, Commander of the Air Force Commissary Service, conducted a ribbon-cutting ceremony which opened the base's new commissary. On March 27, 1981, a $6,433,207 contract for construction of a new Composite Medical Facility was awarded to the Shah Construction Company of Wakefield, Massachusetts. Later that year, contract to renovate 200 family housing quarters at Scott Circle was awarded to Berkshire Construction Corporation, Manchester, New Hampshire, in the amount of $3,040,000 and the SMEF I building was inspected and accepted by the Army Corps of Engineers, New York District. On May 28, Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass) took a tour of the Hanscom facilities. In June of that year, he wrote to Senators Strom Thurmond and Gary Hart of the Military Construction Subcommittee, U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services, requesting that they reinstate $9.1 million into the FY1982 bill for construction of a new Systems Management Engineering Facility (SMEF II) to replace the old Building #1223 complex.

Significant construction continued at Hanscom over the next few years. On February 4, 1982, the Air Force Welfare Board approved funding in the amount of $1,077,700 to design, construct, and furnish a new Temporary Lodging Facility for transient military personnel at Hanscom AFB. The contract was awarded on March 21 to Wendell Phillips and Associates, Inc., Boston, Massachusetts and groundbreaking took place on June 10. ESD personnel from MITRE moved into SMEF I on February 8. SMEF I was officially dedicated in honor of former ESD Commander Lieutenant General John W. O’Neill on July 30. Later that year, Lt. Gen. James W. Stansberry, the new ESD Commander, obtained permission for Hanscom military personnel to use the Veterans Administration Golf Course in Bedford, MA, in exchange for VA access to the Hanscom Officers Club. In 1983, The new Hanscom Composite Medical Facility was accepted by the Air Force, a Family Support Center dedicated to resolving military and civilian personnel and family problems and concerns was established, and the new Youth Center and clinic opened for business. The old clinic would house evaluation groups of the Deputy for Contracting, Source Selection Secretariat. On March 21, A contract for $4,996,700 was awarded to P. J. Stella Construction Company of Wakefield, Massachusetts, for construction of the second new Systems Management Engineering Facility (SMEF II). Groundbreaking took place on April 15 for the building, which would provide office space for personnel from Intelligence Systems (TCI), Tactical Systems Deputate, the Mission Systems Deputate (OC), the Deputy for Acquisition Logistics and Technical Operations (AL), and MITRE support personnel. In April of that year, an Electro-Mail Facsimile Transmission Service was established at Hanscom AFB to facilitate the electronic transfer of hard-copy documents within Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) and throughout the Continental United States (CONUS). Hanscom hosted the 1983 AFSC Executive Conference (EXCON XVII) on August 18-19. On November 17, reinitiating an old New England tradition, Hanscom held its first Town Meeting to give military members and their families an opportunity to raise issues or comment on matters relating to the military community.

On January 30, 1984, work began on a contract worth approximately $2 million and awarded to Kos Kam, Inc., of Neptune, New Jersey to renovate kitchens and bathrooms in 383 Hanscom AFB housing units. On February 21, work began on a $725,000 contract awarded to the Eastern Construction Company of New London, Connecticut, to repair and improve 100 Hanscom AFB housing units. On February 24, Major General Brian D. Ward, ESD Vice Commander, conducted the ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the grand opening of the Family Support Center. In May, the new two-story Temporary Lodging Facility (Swift Inn) for incoming and outgoing military families at Hanscom AFB, was completed, accepted, and occupied. That same month, the Travel Branch of Accounting and Finance converted to the Automated Travel Record Accounting System (ATRAS), a computerized travel record which eliminated manually maintained travel cards. On June 11-12 72 members of an AFSC Inspector General (IG) team visited Hanscom AFB to conduct a Management Effectiveness Inspection (MEI) of ESD staff and Air Base Group elements. Later that year, Hanscom’s Recreation Center was reopened after $50,000 renovations, SMEF II was occupied, and the base chapel was renovated for $84,200.

In early 1985, a Military Affairs Council (MAC) was formed by the North Suburban Chamber of Commerce of Woburn, Massachusetts. Its purpose was to focus on the special needs of the people and organizations at Hanscom and the Chamber of Commerce and to raise public awareness of the major role ESD and Hanscom have in the state’s economy. On March 17 of the same year, a special salary increase for all clerks in the GS-312, 318 and 322 job series at Hanscom, which had been requested by ESD Commander Lieutenant General Melvin F. Chubb, Jr., became effective after the approval of the Boston Region Office of Personnel Management (OPM). On April 20, ESD received the "Build Massachusetts Award" for best architectural design and construction of SMEF II, which was dedicated to the memory of former Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) Commander General George S. Brown four days later. The $6,100,000 building was accepted on July 30. Hanscom also began to reach out to small business with a Procurement Opportunities Day for them on June 20; awards from the previous fiscal year had gone to Small and Disadvantaged Business and Women-Owned Business. At a MASSPORT board meeting on July 31, financial assessment on a project for 40 additional mobile home spaces got underway. Also in 1985, the Defense Systems Management College (DSMC) was established at Hanscom AFB under an interservice agreement with DSMC at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. Perhaps most importantly, in September 1985 a major ESD program, the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS), was set in motion when the prime contract for two E-8 Joint STARS aircraft was awarded to Northrop Grumman.

Difficult Times

Despite its advances and expansion, ESD suffered in the late 80s because of the faltering economy. First, Congress suspended a proposal for the construction of 163 military family housing units at Hanscom. Then, on January 17, 1986, General Lawrence A. Skantze addressed the ESD Share of HQ AFSC-directed civilian manpower reductions for FY 1986-1991 in a message. The reductions for the 3245th Air Base Group were as follows: FY86, 23; FY87, 36; FY88, 40; FY89, 40; FY90, 41; FY91, 42. Nevertheless, a $9,670,900 contract for construction of a new System Management Engineering Facility (SMEF III) was awarded to the P. J. Stella Company that February and groundbreaking took place for the 163 new housing units on April 13. However, on August 15, a tornado destroyed planes on the Hanscom ramp area, causing $400,000 in damage. Also that August, a contract for Alterations to the Base Central Heating Plant was made to Arnold M. Diamond, Inc., in the amount of $9,367,044 and a Magistrate's court commenced operation.

1987 and 1988 brought more good news to Hanscom. On March 26, construction commenced in the O’Neill Building on the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) Secure Video Teleconferencing (VTC) System facility, which became operation on September 1. On August 25, SMEF III was accepted, and on October 26, a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Hanscom’s Patriot Village signaled the completion of a private military housing project. In December, Massachusetts Congressman Chester G. Atkins announced that $4.4 million had been approved by Congress for Hanscom’s school expansion program. Also, a contract to update the Base Comprehensive Plan (BCP) was awarded to the Benham Group, Vienna, Virginia, and the Air Force announced plans to begin a long-term program to clean up five sites around Hanscom Field that had been used for the disposal of hazardous waste prior to 1974. In 1988, an endeavor to implement an "access control system" at Hanscom AFB was made through the $477K Intrusion Detection/Automatic Entry Key (ID/AEK) contract, which was awarded to Vikonics, Inc. Two new gatehouses at Gates 1 & 4 (the Vandenberg and Hartwell gates) would open in November of the next year in order to enhance security measures and improve security police working conditions. In early 1988, The Staff Judge Advocate Office for the 3245th Air Base Group (ABGp/JA) was formally established the groundbreaking ceremony for the Hanscom school expansion program occurred, and the Video Teleconference Center (VTC) officially opened. Hanscom AFB also received the AFSC Best Installation Award in May.

The next year did not prove as auspicious for the base. Although in January Crimson Travel Service replaced the Scheduled Airline Ticketing Office (SATO) by opening two offices at Hanscom for leisure and official travel and later a base playground was constructed by civil engineering squadron volunteers and a new teen center had opened, by mid-year things had taken a turn for the worse. In July, Lieutenant General Gordon E. Fornell, the ESD commander, issued a published message to Base personnel outlining the Defense Management Review (DMR) which would affect the future direction of the Air Force, Air Force Systems Command (AFSC), and the Electronic Systems Division (ESD). That November, General Fornell imposed a 60-day selective hiring and promotion policy with the exception of career development promotions. The same month, the Personal Property Section (ABGp/LGTTP) of the Logistics Squadron was closed out at Hanscom. In February of 1990, General Fornell announced that ESD would lose 127 military and 218 civilian positions over the following four-year period as a result of the Defense Management Review (DMR), but that all of ESD’s current programs would remain at Hanscom.

On June 1, a dedication ceremony was held at the corner of Vandenberg Drive and Marrett Street for the static display model of the legendary Curtiss-Wright P-40 "Warhawk", the aircraft with which the first Army Air Forces unit (the 85th Fighter Squadron) was equipped when it arrived at Hanscom (then Bedford Airport) on 2 July 1942. On September 15, The ESD Employee/Labor Management Relations organization notified Base civilian personnel of an Air Force proposal to [http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Furlough furlough] , though this was later suspended by Congressional budget action. On December 13, the Geophysics Laboratory at Hanscom AFB was disestablished and reactivated as an operating location of the new Phillips Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. The same day, ESD’s Rome Air Development Center was renamed Rome Laboratory. Both laboratories were designated members of the Air Force’s four new "super laboratories."

On January 11, 1991, the two Joint STARS E-8 contracted in September 1985 which were still in development, deployed from the United States to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and began operations three days later. On January 16, United States forces began Operation Desert Storm in conjunction with United Nations forces. The next day, Hanscom’s 2014th Communications Squadron was deactivated and merged with ESD’s Directorate of Communcations/Computer Systems. Gulf War hostilities ended on February 28. On April 1, ESD celebrated the 30th anniversary of its establishment. The Systems Management Engineering Facility IV (SMEF IV) by the Vandenberg Gate was officially dedicated as the Lt. Gen. Robert M. Bond Building. On May 14, Hanscom AFB celebrated "Welcome Home Warrior Day" to honor approximately 160 people from Hanscom organizations who were deployed to or involved with Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. On August 30, ESD was given the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award for the period 1 April 1989 to 31 March 1991. A monument dedicated to American POWs and MIAs was unveiled at the corner of Barksdale and Grenier Streets on November 20.

The next few years were particularly important for Hanscom. It did not get off to a good start, however. On May 21, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts imposed a "boil water" order on the base. Intensive efforts were made in identifying and correcting deficiencies with the base water distribution system. The order was lifted on 10 September without Hanscom ever receiving a formal Notice of Violation. On July 1, The Electronics Systems Division became the Electronic Systems Center (ESC). The new Air Force Materiel Command, formed from the merger of Air Force Systems Command and Air Force Logistics Command, came into being. The ESD and its two sister AFSC product divisions—Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, and Space Systems Division at Los Angeles—were redesignated as centers. In spring of 1993, the Supply Division of the Base’s Logistics Squadron began to implement the AFMC Recycling Program Policy and the Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) Management Program "pharmacy" concept of operations. In October, ESC gained the Communications Systems Center at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma and the Standard Systems Center at Maxwell Air Force Base in Gunter Annex, Alabama, as subordinate units. Previously, these units were under the Air Force Communications Command. On January 1, 1994, the Materiel Systems Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, OH, formerly the Logistics Management Systems Center, became part of ESC. In July, ESC organized the first "Fort Franklin" at Hanscom in order to better visualize C4I systems in action in the field. On July 13, General Charles E. Franklin received the Federal Government’s 1994 Quality Improvement Prototype Award to ESC from Vice President Albert Gore in Washington, DC.

Despite its role in the Gulf War, its expansion, and its awards, Hanscom was not yet in the clear. In the fall of 1994, the base was under consideration for closure in the third round of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. Its local supporters undertook intense lobbying efforts to avert this possibility. On October 1, the 3245th Air Base Group at Hanscom was redesignated the 66th Air Base Wing. On November 8, a "stand-up" occurred at the former Communications Systems Centerat Tinker AFB, OK, now redesignated the 38th Engineering Installation Wing (EIW). As part of ESC’s expansion, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force designated ESC as the Air Force Center for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I). Management information systems (MIS) and Engineering and Installation (EI) activities in AFMC were attached to ESC. At the same time, the United States Environmental Protection Agency placed Hanscom AFB on the National Priorities List, a list of the Superfund sites, focusing attention on the long term cleanup underway at several Hanscom sites. However, the Department of Environmental Protection and the Northeast Rural Water Association presented Hanscom with the "Consecutive Water System Award" for outstanding performance and achievement in improving and upgrading the water distribution system at Hanscom in 1993. In January 1995, two of ESC’s subordinate units were redesignated when the Standard Systems Center at Maxwell AFB in AL was nenamed the Headquarters Standard Systems Group and the Materiel Systems Center at Wright-Patterson AFB in OH became the Materiel Systems Group. On February 28, the final DoD recommendation to the BRAC called for Rome Laboratory’s development division to move to Fort Monmouth, NJ, and its research divisions to move to Hanscom. On March 1, Senators Edward Kennedy and John Kerry held a press conference announcing that the DoD had not included Hanscom AFB in the final list of bases for closure and realignment it submitted to the BRAC on 28 February.

New Recognition

In the early spring of 1995, a project to demolish Hanscom’s older housing units in Scott Circle and to replace them with new units got underway. On April 4, the ribbon-cutting ceremony took place for the Health and Wellness Center on Hanscom, which had been accomplished as a self-help project. Between May 1–16, Fort Franklin III, the third deployment of Fort Franklin Field Operating Base—a joint interoperable Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence capability—took place. On May 20, Lincoln Laboratory dedicated its newly-completed buildings and celebrated more than forty years of research and development in support of DoD and in late spring the New York Congressional delegation lobbied successfully to keep Rome Laboratory in place at Rome, New York. On September 14, The Geophysics Directorate of Phillips Laboratory and the Electromagnetics Directorate of Rome Laboratory located at Hanscom celebrated the 50th Anniversary of their establishment in Cambridge, immediately after the close of World War II. Between September 18–29 Fort Franklin IV, the Fort Franklin Battlespace Laboratory, was held in conjunction with the 1995 worldwide DoD Joint Warrior Interoperability Demonstration (JWID ’95). In September, ESC drew up its first strategic plan and completed a Unit Self Assessment.

In 1995, the 94th ARCOM was redesignated the 94th Regional Support Command (RSC) and removed to from Hanscom to Fort Devens, Massachusetts.

On January 29, 1996, MITRE’s board of trustees elected to divide the corporation into two entities. MITRE was to focus its operations on its Federally funded research and development centers for DoD and FAA, while a new company, named Mitretek Systems, took over the non-FFRDC work for a number of government agencies. On May 1, ESC created a new Systems Acquisition Directorate by consolidating five Hanscom organizations — Acquisition Logistics, Acquisition Security, Acquisition Civil Engineering, Engineering and Program Management, and Acquisition Meteorology. In June, Hanscom’s team won the AFMC-level competition to represent the command in Top Dollar ’96. The exercise for the contest posed challenges in providing necessary supplies to Operation Joint Endeavor. On June 22, ESC held its first Acquisition Training Half Day, a result of the successful Acquisition Reform Day held in May 1996, and on August 12, Fort Franklin V began two weeks of operations at Hanscom.

On September 22, the year-long Air Force’s 50th Anniversary celebrations were kicked off. An NFL-sponsored "Salute to Air Force Sunday", one of seven nationwide, took place at Foxboro Stadium. It honored America’s prisoners of war and those missing in action as part of the National POW/MIA Recognition Day commemorated two days earlier. The Salute included a formation fly-over, the Hanscom Honor Guard and National Anthem, and a parachute demonstration. On October 8, Lt. Gen Ronald T. Kadish, ESC Commander, spoke at opening ceremony at the South Boston Postal Annex for the 1996 Boston-area Combined Federal Campaign, for which the Electronic Systems Center was the lead agency. General Kadish also presided over formal ceremonies at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas on 11 October marking the redesignation of the Cryptologic Management Directorate, formerly assigned to the San Antonio Air Logistics Center, to ESC as the Cryptologic Systems Group (CPSG). In November, the underground relocation of Hanscom’s electrical power lines and data links, both telephone and computer (Project Pole-away), began on Barksdale Avenue. The Environmental Flight prepared the Environmental assessment for the project and the Notice of Intent for the local conservation commission. The project required mitigation measures to protect wetlands. In December, the 66th Services Squadron became the sole manager of the Veteran’s Administration Golf Course (renamed the Patriot Golf Course) in Bedford, though the VA retained ownership of the golf course. That same month, the Hanscom AFB 66SPTG/CE Environmental Flight was awarded the AFMC and Air Force "Best Environmental Flight" for significant accomplishments in the Environmental Restoration, Compliance and Pollution Prevention Programs during FY 96. Between November 12-13, ESC held an Offsite Meeting to advance its planning for a major restructuring of the organization and the acquisition processes.

On April 1, 1997, two Air Force research organizations at Hanscom—the Geophysics Directorate of Phillips Laboratory and the Electromagnetics Directorate of Rome Laboratory—were merged into the new Air Force Research Laboratory. Between June 20–22, the Hanscom Air Show took place. The F-117 Stealth Fighter made its first landing at Hanscom Field during the practice run for the Air Show on June 20. The show drew in crowds estimated at 760,000. Events included flybys of vintage warbirds and the F-117 Stealth Fighter, as well as parachutists and aircraft acrobatics. The USAF Thunderbird Aerobatic Show concluded each day's performance. Also in June, the reconstructed family housing at Scott Circle won the 1997 USAF Design Award and the Hanscom Enlisted Club reopened after major renovations. The new ESC had a "stand-up" on August 1. Between September 15–19, Hanscom AFB put on a week of events as the final festivities for the Air Force’s 50th Anniversary.

ESC managed the insertion of new command and control and information technology into the series of Joint Expeditionary Force Experiments starting in 1998. In 2001, In 2001 the Air Force gave ESC the lead responsibility to integrate its command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems (C2ISR). The new capabilities from this integration will enable the development of network-centric warfare and provide an asymmetric force advantage. ESC is now pursuing a major initiative to standardize and upgrade C2ISR capabilities at Air Operations Centers, with the goal of realizing the Aerospace Operations Center of the future. The latest major addition to Hanscom facilities was the new Base Exchange and Commissary, completed in 2002.

Nearby installations

Massachusetts National Guard barracks for the 211th Military Police Battalion on Routes 4 and 225, just before the turnoff onto Hartwell Avenue, which leads to the base.

ee also

* Air Force Materiel Command
*Hanscom Field
*United States Air Force Band of Liberty
* Massachusetts World War II Army Airfields
* Eastern Air Defense Force (Air Defense Command)


* Much of this text in an early version of this article was taken from pages on the [http://www.hanscom.af.mil Hanscom Air Base website] , which as a work of the U.S. Government is presumed to be a public domain resource. That information was supplemented by:
* Mueller, Robert (1989). Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-53-6

External links

* [http://www.hanscom.af.mil/ Official Hanscom Air Force Base website]

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