Creech Air Force Base
|Creech Air Force Base|
eponyms: Indian Springs, Nevada &
Wilbur L. Creech
|Part of Air Combat Command (1992) |
Tactical Air Command (1961)
Air Research and Development Command (1952)
Air Training Command (1948)
|Location: 2,300 acres (3.6 sq mi)|
in Clark County, Nevada
Borders: Indian Springs
(35 miles (56 km) NW of Las Vegas &
45 miles (72 km) NW of Nellis AFB)
|Code||2512155 (GNIS: "Military")|
2443872 (GNIS "Airport")
|Owner||Federal government of the United States|
|Controlled by||United States Air Force|
|Condition||Operational (part is designated|
as formerly used)
|In use||1942 – March 1945|
Creech Air Force Base is a United States Air Force (USAF) command and control facility in Clark County, Nevada used "to engage in daily Overseas Contingency Operations …of remotely piloted aircraft systems which fly missions across the globe." In addition to an airport, the military installation has the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Battlelab, associated aerial warfare ground equipment, and unmanned aerial vehicles of the type used in Afghanistan and Iraq. Creech is the aerial training site for the USAF Thunderbirds and "is one of two emergency divert airfields" for the Nevada Test and Training Range.
In addition to the airfield, the base includes the "UAV-Logistic and Training Facility", the Joint Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence, Silver Flag Alpha Regional Training Center, and other military units/facilities. The base in named in honor of retired US Air Force General Wilbur L. Creech, the former commanding officer of Tactical Air Command (TAC), the predecessor command of the current Air Combat Command (ACC).
|Elevation AMSL||3,133 ft / 955 m|
|Website||Creech Air Force Base|
- 432d Wing
- 432d Operations Group
- 732d Operations Group
- 432d Maintenance Group
- 432d Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
- 432d Maintenance Squadron
- 432d Aircraft Communications Maintenance Squadron
- 799th Air Base Group
- 432d Air Expeditionary Wing with 2 groups, 6 operational squadrons, 3 maintenance squadrons, and MQ-9 Reapers and MQ-1 Predators
- 98th Southern Range Support Squadron
- 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron
After World War I, Nevada and other western inland states were surveyed by Capt. Lowell H. Smith and Sgt. William B. Whitefield for landing sites. The United States Army Air Corps subsequently rented a large room in Reno, and used the 1929 civilian airfield near Las Vegas (named "McCarran Field" c. 1935) for 1930s training flights. A 1939 "western site board" reconnaissance was conducted near Tonopah for a practice range and in October 1940, Maj. David Schlatter surveyed the southwest United States for a military airfield (Executive Order 8578 transferred a "60 × 90 mile area at Tonopah to the War Department on 29 October 1940".) Congressional appropriations of 19 November 1941 for the Commissioner of Public Roads to build "21 flight strips" along highways for "bombing ranges or for other specialized training" included inland airstrips.:87 "Initially a "tent city" military training camp", construction of "Indian Springs Airport" permanent facilities began in March 1942, "and by February 1943 the camp was used as a divert field and as a base for air-to-air gunnery training."
Indian Springs Army Airfield
The Nevada World War II Army Airfield at Indian Springs supported[how?] B-17 Flying Fortress & T-6 Texan aircraft and had 5 Auxiliary Army Airfields on the bombing range, e.g., Area 18 had Aux. Field#4 & Area 51 had Aux. Field#1 (Tonopah Army Airfield also had 5 auxiliary fields). In March 1945 Indian Springs AAF was placed in stand-by with a small housekeeping staff and in January 1947, was closed along with Las Vegas AAF. The Army airfield re-opened in January 1948[who?] and in 1950, the base's 1st USAF unit[which?] was assigned to the installation.
Below are the former auxiliary fields of Indian Springs:
- Indian Springs Auxiliary Field No. 1
- East side of Groom Dry Lake (a secret 1955 site was built at a different site south of the Groom Lake playa)
- Indian Springs Auxiliary Field No. 2
- Now two faintly visible runways and series of taxiways, unused since World War II.
- Indian Springs Auxiliary Field No. 3
- No remains visible. Might have been using part of a dry lake bed.
- Indian Springs Auxiliary Field No. 4 (now Pahute Mesa Airstrip)
- Indian Springs Auxiliary Field No. 5
- Undetermined, area used in the 1950s for nuclear weapons testing.
Indian Springs Air Force Base
Indian Springs Air Force Base was designated in August 1951 and in July 1952, jurisdiction transferred from Air Training Command to the Air Force Special Weapons Center (AFSWC) of Air Research and Development Command (ARDC). As an AFSWC facility, "Indian Springs AFB served as a support base for projects from Operation Ranger in 1951 to Operation Storax in 1962." "The 4935th Air Base Squadron was activated to operate the base in accordance with ARDC General Order No. 39 on 16 July 1952". The base's mission was to support United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) nuclear testing at the Nevada Proving Grounds, 30 mi (48 km) northwest, as well as Nellis AFB's operation of the Nellis Air Force Gunnery and Bombing Range. "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."
- Operation Teapot
- Indian Springs' support of Teapot nuclear tests included hosting media visits and "Official and Congressional Observer groups" e.g., "by agreement reached in January 1955" for flights from Washington. Aircrews at Indian Springs were briefed on weather for tests and when the "Yucca Lake airstrip" became flooded, "nuclear devices" were instead landed at the AFB until Yucca Lake "was completely dried out". AFSWC personnel at Indian Springs AFB provided "facilities and messing for observers and experimental groups, air freight terminal services, servicing for Department of Defense and project vehicles stationed at Indian Springs AFB and transient vehicles", and support of flights between Kirtland and Indian Springs. (The 4925th Special Weapons Group conducted the "live test drops at Nevada" and flew through and sampled "highly radioactive nuclear "clouds" after explosions"—the 4926th Test Squadron (Sampling)[where?] also tested Nevada mushroom clouds.)
The Air Base Squadron transferred under the 4950th Test Group (Nuclear) in 1956, the base launched the Shot John F-89J that fired the MB-1 Genie which detonated over Area 10, and AFSWC jurisdiction at Indian Springs AFB "continued until 1961".:122
Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field
- Det 1, AFSWC
- Detachment 1, AFSWC had all six aircraft stationed at Indian Springs c. 1963 to support the Nevada Test Site by transporting personnel to/from Camp Mercury and Yucca Flats 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. In 1966, the unit replaced two Kaman HH-43 Huskie helicopters with two Bell UH-1F Huey utility helicopters.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the primary base mission was range maintenance and the primary unit was the 57th Combat Support Squadron of civil engineers—the only assigned aircraft unit was a detachment of Bell UH-1N Twin Huey helicopters (designated as "Det 1").
The 1982 Thunderbirds Indian Springs Diamond Crash killed all four Northrop T-38 Talon pilots impacting along the runway (controlled flight into terrain). Around 1988 the bulk of Silver Flag Alpha moved to the Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field from Nellis. Indian Springs AFAF was designated a Formerly Used Defense Site by 30 September 2002. In January 2005, No 1115 Flight was formed at the base to operate the Royal Air Force's first UAVs (became part of No. 39 Squadron RAF in March 2007).
|Creech UAV pilot/copilot console|
On June 20, 2005, Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field officially changed its name to Creech Air Force Base in honor of Gen. Wilbur L. "Bill" Creech, the commander of Tactical Air Command from 1978 to 1984, and activated in October 2005 the Joint Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence and the 3d Special Operations Squadron (the latter was the 1st MQ-1 Predator squadron in the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC). The 42d Attack Squadron was formed at Creech AFB on 8 November 2006 as the first Reaper squadron. By 2007, Creech personnel of the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron had been deployed to Ali Air Base, and the base transferred from a Nellis AFB unit to the 432d Wing when activated on 1 May 2007 (renamed 432d Air Expeditionary Wing on May 15, 2008.) On 5 March 2008, the 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron became operational as "the Air Force's [1st] test squadron for unmanned aerial systems". In 2008 the USGS added the military installation to the Geographic Names Information System (the airport portion of the base was separately designated in 2011).
A 2009 Nevada Desert Experience protest against drone attacks on Pakistan by the United States of America resulted in the convictions of the "Creech 14" (e.g., Father Louie Vitale, Kathy Kelly, and John Dear) arrested on the base for trespassing and sentenced on January 27, 2011 for time served (a 2009 protest was also held.) In 2011, keystroke logging software had infected UAV ground stations[where?] ("believed to have spread through...removable drives"), and the Twenty-Fourth Air Force was alerted to the problem by an article in Wired magazine. (The virus "posed no threat to our operational mission".) In 2012, the ceremony in which the 99th Security Forces Group "stands down" also activated the 799th Air Base Group at Creech.
Silver Flag Alpha RTC
Creech is also home to the "Silver Flag Alpha Regional Training Center", operated by the 99th Ground Combat Training Squadron (99 GCTS). At Silver Flag Alpha, Security Forces airmen receive mission-specific training prior to being deployed to combat areas. There are two basic courses taught at Silver Flag Alpha; the 17-day Base Security Operations Course which focuses on base defense from within the base boundary and the Area Security Operations Course for airmen whose deployment tasking includes "outside the wire" missions where the airmen leave the base perimeter to conduct various missions. Military Working Dog handlers receive additional training along with attending one of the two Silver Flag Alpha courses. Depending on the course the airmen may receive training on the following:
- Vehicles: uparmored Humvees, MRAPs, MATVs. Which may or may not be equipped with the CROWS system for remotely operating mounted weapons such as the M2, M-240 or Mk 19 grenade launcher.
- Tactical Automated Sensor Systems, for base perimeter sensor systems.
- Heavy weapons qualifications courses for the M2 Mk 19 and M107
- Non-lethal weapons: shotgun/grenade launcher/hand grenade rounds; expandable baton; taser; and glare mout lasers.
Silver Flag Alpha's range complex includes 12 small arms ranges, a Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) village, a bare base tent city, convoy combat training route, and a vehicle maneuver area.
In popular culture
Author Stephen King presented the site as the base of military operations for the antagonist, in his novel The Stand. Creech was the site for the control of drone surveillance and Hellfire missile deployment in the 2015 film Eye in the Sky.
It was also briefly seen in London Has Fallen, being the base of a drone strike in Pakistan during the prologue, supposedly killing the antagonist and his family. It is also hinted to be the base of another drone strike in Yemen, this time successfully killing the antagonist.
It most recently appeared in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan as the base for drone strikes in the third episode.
- Drone crashes at Creech AFB occurred in 2002, 2004 (twice), 2006 (2), and 2009.
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- p. 50: "During the last stages of the 1939 augmentation a reconnaissance had been made of tracts of land near Tonopah, Nev., Wendover, Utah, and Arlington, Ore., in an effort to secure local [sic] practice ranges for McChord Field. During the spring and summer of 1940 negotiations had been opened to secure the three tracts, about 90 per cent of which was public domain, for use as general ranges.129"
- p. 87: "Congress on 19 November 1941 appropriated $10,000,000 to the Commissioner of Public Roads for such construction as he might arrange and added $5,000,000 on 17 December 1941. During 1942 some 21 flight strips, with dimensions of 500 by 5000-8000, were constructed at an average cost of $394,000 each.59 … Although most of these flight strips were located along the continental seaboard, a few were located inland, generally to serve bombing ranges or for other specialized training."
- Rininger, Tyson V. (2006). "History of Nellis Air Force Base". Red Flag: Air Combat for the 21st Century. ISBN 9780760325308. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
- Final Inventory Project Report, Tonopah Bombing Range (Report). Project Number - J09NV1114. USACE Sacramento District. September 1999.
Executive order 8578 was executed on October 29, 1940 for the withdrawal of 3,560,000 acres of land fiom the public domain for use by the War Department as an aerial bombing and gunnery range (CE0769).
- [not in citation given] 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
- Air Force Special Weapons Center Facilities (Report). Air Force Research Laboratory Phillips Research Site Historical Information Office. 1953. (quotation from Van Citters, p. 123)
- Van Citters, Karen; Bissen, Kristen (June 2003). National Register of Historic Places: Historic Context and Evaluation for Kirland Air Force Base, Albuquerque, New Mexico (PDF) (Report). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-06-01. Retrieved 2013-06-16.
- Medema, Tech Sgt. William (July 14, 2000). "Kirtland AFB Testers Reactivate World War II Training Base". Nucleus. 377th Air Base Wing, History Office. (cited by Van Citters, from which the quotation is taken.)
- Reeves, James E.--Test Manager (Spring 1955). Operation Teapot: Report of the Test Manager Joint Test Organization (PDF) (Report). Kaman Tempo. Archived from the original (extract of classified report) on 2013-02-22. Retrieved April 2013. Check date values in:
- Hardison, Maj. John D. (1990). The Megaton Blasters: Story of the 4925th Test Group (Atomic). Arvada: Boomerang Publishers. (quotations from Van Citters)
- Edward Giller, 17 April 2002 interview with Kristen Bisson (cited by Van Clitters p. 115)
- Maag, Carl; Ponton, Jean (29 September 1981). "Shots Diablo To Franklin Prime The Mid-Series Tests of the Plumbbob Series: 15 July - 30 August 1957" (PDF). Defense Nuclear Agency. p. 46. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- "History of Creech Air Force Base". U.S. Air Force. Archived from the original on 15 February 2013. Retrieved 20 July 2013.
- Jones, Major Marshall, Lt. Colonel William B. Dollahon, Lt. Colonel George Myers, and Betty Francisco. (1976). A Chronological History of Nuclear Readiness. Air Force Research Laboratory Phillips Research Site Historical Information Office. (cited by Van Citters, from which the quotation is taken.)
- "99th Ground Combat Training Squadron - "Silver Flag Alpha"". 99th ABW/PA. 7 December 2012. Archived from the original (fact sheet) on 3 March 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- "Fact Sheet Display". Creech Air Force Base. United States Air Force. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
- "Latest aviation images". Aviation Spectator. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- Rodgers, Keith (2 May 2007). "Reactivation creates wing for remotely controlled planes". Las Vegas Review-Journal. p. 4B. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- Martin, Jessica, Capt. (5 March 2008). "Test unit takes on bigger role in Global War on Terror". Nellis AFB Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 10 June 2011. Retrieved 7 March 2008.
- [full citation needed]VCNV Archived April 7, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Toplikar, Dave (27 January 2011). "'Creech 14' found guilty of trespassing, judge says 'go in peace'". Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
- Weil, Janet (July 10, 2009). "Peace activists to rally Monday outside Creech Air Force Base: Will call for end to U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan". Press Releases. CodePink4Peace.org. Archived from the original on 23 May 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- Shachtman, Noah (7 October 2011). "Exclusive: Computer Virus Hits U.S. Drone Fleet". Danger Room. Wired.com. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- Lawrence, Chris (10 October 2011). "Virus infects program that controls U.S. drones". CNN.
- Shachtman, Noah (11 October 2011). "Get Hacked, Don't Tell: Drone Base Didn't Report Virus". Wired.
- Hennigan, W.J. (13 October 2011). "Air Force says drone computer virus poses 'no threat'". Los Angeles Times.
- 799th Air Base Group is Activated. Nellis Television. 10 September 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2016 – via YouTube.
- "Expeditionary Readiness Training (ExpeRT) Course Expansion" (PDF). Nellis AFB. June 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2013.
- "USAF Has Lost 75 Drones Since 1999". Matthew Aid. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
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