Creech Air Force Base
|Creech Air Force Base
Indian Springs Auxiliary Army Airfield
|Part of Air Combat Command (ACC)|
|Located near: Indian Springs, Nevada|
An MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech AFB during a local training mission
|Controlled by||United States Air Force|
|IATA: INS – ICAO: KINS – FAA LID: INS|
|Elevation AMSL||3,133 ft / 955 m|
Creech Air Force Base (IATA: INS, ICAO: KINS, FAA LID: INS), formerly known as Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, is a United States Air Force base located one mile (2 km) north of the central business district of Indian Springs, in Clark County, Nevada, United States. It is about 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Las Vegas and 45 miles (72 km) northwest of Nellis Air Force Base. It is named in honor of General Wilbur L. “Bill” Creech, known as the "Father of the Thunderbirds".
Along with being the aerial demonstration training site for the Thunderbirds, the base plays a major role in the ongoing War on Terror. The base is home to the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle which is used regularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. The base is also home to the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Battlelab.
- 432d Wing - Reactivated on 1 May 2007
- 432nd Operations Group
- 11th Reconnaissance Squadron - Reactivated on 29 July 1995, at Nellis under command of the 57th Operations Group, 57th Wing as a training unit.
- 15th Reconnaissance Squadron - Reactivated on 1 August 1997, at Indian Springs under command of the 57th Operations Group. This unit conducts real time surveillance.
- 17th Reconnaissance Squadron - Reactivated on 8 March 2002, at Indian Springs under command of the 57th Operations Group. This unit conducts intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.
- 30th Reconnaissance Squadron - Activated in August, 2005 and based at Tonopah Test Range Airport under command of the 57th Operations Group. The unit is a test operation.
- 19th Attack Squadron - established in 2006.
- 42d Attack Squadron - Reactivated on 8 November 2006. The 42d Attack Squadron will oversee the training of pilots and sensor operators assigned to the MQ-9.
- 432d Operations Support Squadron - Reactivated on 1 May 2007. The 432d Operations Support Squadron provides support to MQ-1 and MQ-9 operations.
- 423nd Maintenance Group
- 432nd Operations Group
- 799th Air Base Group
- 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron - The 99 GCTS operates as a detachment of the 99th Security Forces Group located Nellis AFB. The 99 GCTS operates a number of training schools for members of the U.S. Air Force's Security Forces (AFSC 3P0X1). Primarily the USAF's CONUS (Continental United States) desert ground warfare school, Silver Flag Alpha, is conducted here.
- 799th Air Base Squadron
- 799th Security Forces Squadron
- 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron - Reactivated on 5 March 2008, at Indian Springs. 'This is the Air Force's first operational test squadron for unmanned aerial systems'.
- Joint Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence
- 3d Special Operations Squadron - Activated on 28 October 2005 at Indian Springs. This unit is under the command of the Air Force Special Operations Command.
- 98th Southern Range Support Squadron
- No. 39 Squadron RAF flying MQ-9 Reapers.
World War II
The airfield that now bears General Creech’s name was originally built by the U.S. Army Air Forces in the early 1940s to support the war effort during World War II. A month after the 7 December 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, the Army began building the training camp. Known as Indian Springs Auxiliary Army Airfield, by the end of 1942, the service had contracted for regular facilities and by the end of February 1943 the base was being used as a divert field and a base for air-to-air gunnery training to support the Western Flying Training Command Gunnery School at Las Vegas Army Airfield. Personnel assigned to the airfield maintained five small airstrips.
- Auxiliary #1 (Groom Lake Field)
- May be a target airfield as bomb craters are visible in imagery.
- Auxiliary #4 (Forty-Mile Canyon Field)
- Now Pahute Mesa Airstrip.
- Auxiliary Fields #2; #3 and #5 have not been located.
The little post was in service supporting B-17s and T-6s until March 1945 when the Army put the base in stand-by status maintained by a small housekeeping staff. When Las Vegas AAF inactivated in January 1947, Indian Springs also closed down.
The base re-opened in January 1948 and two years later received its first permanently assigned Air Force unit. In August 1951, the installation became Indian Springs Air Force Base, albeit as an auxiliary field, and in July 1952 transferred from Air Training Command (ATC) to the Air Research and Development Command (ARDC), reporting to the Air Force Special Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Nuclear Testing Support
The 4935th Air Base Squadron was activated to operate the base in accordance with ARDC General Order No. 39 on 16 July 1952. The mission of Indian Springs Air Force Base was to support nuclear testing at the AEC Nevada Proving Grounds, 30 miles southwest. This included providing logistic and support functions for nuclear test operations. Indian Springs AFB also gave support for operations and maintenance of a fighter, gunnery, rocketry, and bombing range used by Nellis AFB through the provision of housing facilities and services for Nellis AFB personnel who were operating and maintaining the range. The range was also used chiefly by F-86 Sabre pilots for training prior to overseas duty.
At first fewer than 300 officers and enlisted men were stationed at Indian Springs AFB, but when testing began, the population grew to more than 1,500 personnel. The base also hosted more than 100 of the most modern aircraft in the world at the time.
Det 1 (AFSWC)
By the early/mid 1960s, aircraft stationed at Indian Springs numbered six, all operated by Detachment 1, AFSWC (Air Force Special Weapons Center), whose home base was Kirtland AFB, New Mexico. Det 1's mission was to support the test site by transporting personnel to and from Mercury, Nevada and Yucca Flats, Nevada, and to orbit/hover over selected underground tests while monitoring for radiation leaks. Ancillary missions were carried out including target marking at the nearby bombing range for the aircraft from Nellis AFB as well as searching for and retrieving weather balloons. During one bombing range support mission circa 1967-1968, the Det 1 detachment commander, Lt Col Conner, and his co-pilot, Captain Peterson, were killed when their U-6 Beaver aircraft crashed into one of the mountains that ringed the range; it was suspected that a smoke bomb may have been inadvertently dropped inside the plane during the flight.
Detachment 1 consisted of an administrative unit, an electronics repair unit, a small supply unit, and as well as an approximately +/- 12 pilots and maintenance personnel, some 30+ in total. The unit flew 4 fixed-wing aircraft and two helicopers. Two fixed-wing aircraft were single-engine U-6 Beavers and two other twin-engine aircraft, most likely U-3 Blue Canoe aircraft. In 1966, the unit flew a pair of HH-43 Huskie helicopters, which were replaced by a pair of UH-1F Huey utility helicopters that same year.
Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field
With its transfer to Tactical Air Command (TAC), Indian Springs AFB was re-designated Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field and retained that name until 2005. Following the inactivation of Tactical Air Command in 1992, the base became a component of Air Combat Command (ACC). During the 1970s and 1980s, the only assigned aircraft unit on the base was a detachment of UH-1N Twin Huey helicopters which was designated as "Det 1". The primary mission during this time was range maintenance for the vast Nellis weapons range. The 57th Combat Support Squadron was the primary squadron on the base during this time, which was composed of Air Force Civil Engineers.
The base has also been the remote training site for the USAF Thunderbirds, home based at nearby Nellis AFB. On 18 January 1982, while practicing for an air show at Davis-Monthan AFB, the entire 4-ship diamond formation of the Thunderbirds crashed at Indian Springs AF Aux Field. The four pilots, including the squadron commander, were flying T-38 Talon aircraft that equipped the team at the time and were performing a line abreast loop when all aircraft had a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) impact along the runway in front of the base Fire Station.
On 20 June 2005, Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field officially changed its name to Creech Air Force Base in honor of the late General Wilbur L. “Bill” Creech. Gen Creech was a former commander of the Tactical Air Command and was also known as the “father of the Thunderbirds,” the Air Force’s premier air demonstration squadron.
In October 2005, the 3d Special Operations Squadron was activated at Creech AFB, joining the 11th, 15th and 17th Reconnaissance Squadrons, becoming the first MQ-1 Predator squadron in the Air Force Special Operations Command. The Joint Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence was also established at the same time.
Many organizations have criticized the use of the Predator and Reaper drones, and the perceived extremely high danger of harming civilians. In protest to UAV attacks in Pakistan, in an event sponsored by Nevada Desert Experience, Father Louie Vitale, Kathy Kelly, Stephen Kelly, SJ, John Dear, and others were arrested inside Creech Air Force Base on Wednesday April 9, 2009. They were convicted of trespassing, and sentenced to time served on January 27, 2011. Additional protests have been held, conducted by a number of organizations including Code Pink.
In 2011, the ground stations used to control drones were found to be infected with keylogger software. It is suspected the malware was introduced through the use of removable disk drives to load map updates and transport mission videos from one computer to another. The Twenty-Fourth Air Force was alerted to the problem by reading an article in Wired Magazine. The Air Force issued a statement that the virus had "posed no threat to our operational mission".
- Martin, Jessica, Capt. (2008-03-05). "Test unit takes on bigger role in Global War on Terror". Nellis AFB Public Affairs. Retrieved 2008-03-07.
- NATIONAL REGISTER OF HISTORIC PLACES HISTORIC CONTEXT AND EVALUATION FOR KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE Albuquerque, New Mexico
- "Indian Springs renamed Creech Air Force Base". Air Force Link. 2005-06-20.
- Rodgers, Keith. "Reactivation creates wing for remotely controlled planes". Las Vegas Review-Journal. p. 4B.
- Nevada Desert Experience : Predators & Reapers - Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
- Combat Drones: Losing the Fight Against Terrorism << Peace Policy
- Obama Steps Up Drone Bombings Despite Civilian Deaths
- ‘Creech 14’ found guilty of trespassing, judge says ‘go in peace’
- CODEPINK : Peace activists to rally Monday outside Creech Air Force Base: Will call for end to U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan
- Shachtman, Noah. "Computer Virus Hits U.S. Drone Fleet." Wired, 7 October 2011.
- Lawrence, Chris. "Virus infects program that controls U.S. drones." CNN, 10 October 2011.
- Shachtman, Noah. "Get Hacked, Don’t Tell: Drone Base Didn’t Report Virus." Wired, 11 October 2011.
- Hennigan, W.J. "Air Force says drone computer virus poses 'no threat'." LA Times, 13 October 2011.
- This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.
- Shaw, Frederick J. (2004), Locating Air Force Base Sites History’s Legacy, Air Force History and Museums Program, United States Air Force, Washington DC, 2004.
- Manning, Thomas A. (2005), History of Air Education and Training Command, 1942–2002. Office of History and Research, Headquarters, AETC, Randolph AFB, Texas ASIN: B000NYX3PC
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Creech Air Force Base|
- Creech Air Force Base, official web site
- Creech Air Force Base at GlobalSecurity.org
- Resources for this U.S. military airport: