Ben Guerir Air Base
|Ben Guerir Air Base|
|IATA: none – ICAO: none|
|Operator||Royal Moroccan Air Force|
|Location||Ben Guerir, Morocco|
|Elevation AMSL||1,400 ft / 430 m|
Ben Guerir Air Base is a former United States Air Force base located in Morocco, later operated by the Royal Moroccan Air Force, which served as a Transatlantic Abort Landing (TAL) site for the Space Shuttle. It is located about 36 miles (58 km) north of Marrakech, near the town of Ben Guerir.
Ben Guerir was established in 1951 by the Strategic Air Command (SAC) as one of five bases constructed in what was then French North Africa for SAC during a "crash program" which began in 1950. The base was located to allow for the rapid deployment of nuclear-armed B-47 Stratojets, without requiring aerial refueling. KC-97 Stratofreighters were also deployed from the base. In 1956 the entire RB-47E force operated by the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing's 322nd, 323rd and 324th SR Squadrons spent 90 days at Ben Guerir on temporary duty assignment. SAC occupied the base until 1963; the base operating unit was the 3926th Air Base (Later "Combat Support") Group, assigned to the 5th Air Division and later to the 4310th Air Division.
The base was designated as a TAL site for the Space Shuttle in July 1988, replacing the former TAL site at Casablanca. The site was chosen largely for its location near the nominal ground track of the shuttle orbiter for a mid-range inclination launch, meaning a diversion to the TAL site would allow for efficient use of fuel. Ben Guerir last served as a TAL site in June 2002, for STS-111, which landed at Edwards Air Force Base at the conclusion of its flight. The base was deactivated in 2005, after supporting 83 shuttle missions.
Ben Guerir has one runway which is oriented in a North-South direction, is 200 feet (61 m) wide, with 25-foot (7.6 m) shoulders, and is 13,720 feet (4,180 m) long with a 1,000-foot (300 m) underrun and a 2,500-foot (760 m) compacted dirt overrun, for a total length of 15,720 feet (4,790 m). During renovations made by NASA in 1988, the runway was equipped with shuttle-unique landing aids, including a Microwave landing system and Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) system.
The Moroccan Air Force is currently upgrading Ben Guerir Air Base to support its acquisition of F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.
- "The American Invasion". Time (Time, Inc.). March 31, 1952.
- Pike, John (April 27, 2005). "Ben Guerir Air Base, Morocco". Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). GlobalSecurity.org. Archived from the original on 16 March 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2007.
- "Space Shuttle Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites" (PDF). NASAfacts. NASA. December 2006. Retrieved March 10, 2007.
- "Space Shuttle Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites". NASA Facts Online. NASA. December 18, 2006. Archived from the original on 15 March 2007. Retrieved March 10, 2007.
- Ben Guerir Air Base at Airliners.net
- NASA Sources Sought Notice: Operations and Maintenance Services: Ben Guerir, Morocco
- Space Shuttle Abort Modes
- 3973d Combat Defense Squadron's Webpage for the SAC's 16th Air Force Units and Bases, Ben Guerir Air Base