The airport was originally built by engineers from the United States in the late 1950s. During the 1980s Soviet war, it was heavily used by the Soviets to launch bombardment missions on Mujahideen rebel forces. The airport was a base for military fighters and transport aircraft (likely Antonov An-26, Antonov An-32 and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21). During the late 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom, it was bombed by US or British aircraft. On November 12, 2001, the 2001 uprising in Herat broke out, and the Taliban were ousted from the area. Elements of the U.S. Army Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 554 ("Texas 08") arrived at the airport soon afterwards, and in the words of the team's report: "..directly negotiate with local commanders for the placement of multinational humanitarian assistance teams to be stationed" at the airport. From 2002 to 2005, the U.S.-led OEF coalition ran international operations at the airport.
In May 2005, responsibility was shifted to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), as part of the Stage 2 transition between the U.S.-led coalition and NATO. For 45 days a 47-person Tanker Airlift Control Element, primarily deployed from the 621st Contingency Response Wing, McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. prepared the airport for the arrival of 300+ Italian troops as they assumed leadership over ISAF operations in the western regions of Afghanistan. For this particular tasking, they supported two C-17 sorties every day. They also assisted the Italian aerial port in servicing coalition C-130s that landed at the airport.
ISAF use has continued since 2005, joined by the Afghan National Army Air Corps, now Afghan Air Force, and the Afghan National Police. In recent years the runway was extended and newly paved. A new international terminal was added in 2011 and the airport became known as Herat International Airport in early 2012 in which direct flight service will begin between Herat and Iran, Pakistan, Dubai, Tajikistan and other destinations. The new terminal was funded by Italy and named after Captain Massimo Ranzani, a fallen Italian officer in 2008. Italy has pledged 137 million Euros for the expansion of the airport. 
Turkish Airlines have planned to commence operations on an Istanbul-Herat route, operating 4 times a week, with an A319 aircraft, 4 times a weekly. This will be effective as of 26 May 2014, Turkish Airlines have yet to confirm this.