Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

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Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
Merritt Field
Near Beaufort, South Carolina in the United States
First F-35B Lightning II arrives at MCAS Beaufort 140717-M-UU619-780.jpg
MCAS Beaufort is located in the United States
MCAS Beaufort
MCAS Beaufort
Location in the United States
Coordinates32°28′38″N 080°43′23″W / 32.47722°N 80.72306°W / 32.47722; -80.72306Coordinates: 32°28′38″N 080°43′23″W / 32.47722°N 80.72306°W / 32.47722; -80.72306
TypeMarine Corps air station
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defense
OperatorUS Marine Corps
Controlled by2nd Marine Aircraft Wing
ConditionOperational Edit this at Wikidata
Site history
Built1943 (1943) (as Naval Air Station Beaufort)
In use1943 – 1946 and 1956 – 1960 (US Navy)
1960 – present (US Marine Corps)
Garrison information
Colonel Timothy P. Miller
GarrisonMarine Aircraft Group 31
Airfield information
IdentifiersICAO: KNBC, FAA LID: NBC, WMO: 722085
Elevation11.2 metres (37 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
05/23 3,719.1 metres (12,202 ft) porous European mix
14/32 2,438.7 metres (8,001 ft) porous European mix
Other airfield facilities5x V/STOL pads and 1x simulated landing helicopter dock
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort or MCAS Beaufort (ICAO: KNBC, FAA LID: NBC) is a United States Marine Corps air base located 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northwest of the central business district of Beaufort, a city in Beaufort County, South Carolina, United States. About 4,700 personnel serve at the station, and it is home to four Marine Corps F/A-18 Hornet fighter-attack squadrons and two F-35B Lighting II training squadrons.

Beaufort is served by the Beaufort County Airport (IATA: BFT[2], ICAO: KARW, FAA LID: ARW), located 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) southeast of MCAS Beaufort.


The water tower on the air station, emblazoned with the base nickname "Fightertown"

Naval Air Station Beaufort was commissioned on June 15, 1943, for advanced training operations of anti-submarine patrols during World War II. It was deactivated in 1946 and reactivated in 1956.

On March 1, 1960, it was re-designated Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

On September 19, 1975, the airfield was named Merritt Field in honor of Major General Lewie G. Merritt, USMC, a 1917 graduate of The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. A native of Ridge Spring, Merritt was a Marine Aviation pioneer who served in both World Wars and commanded several major flying units in the South Pacific during World War II, after retirement he also served as legal counsel to the South Carolina Legislature.[3]

The air station encompasses 6,900 acres (28 km²). It is also associated with a large air-to-air combat area off the coast of South Carolina and Georgia as well as a 5,200 acre (21 km²) air-to-ground combat and bombing range in McIntosh County, Georgia. Also attached to the base is the housing complex of Laurel Bay, just 3 miles (5 km) from the station, that provides family housing for area servicemembers.

Formerly home to USMC F-8 Crusader and F-4 Phantom II operations, MCAS Beaufort currently hosts all active duty USMC F/A-18 air operations on the East Coast, said aircraft and squadrons being assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 31 (MAG-31). The mission of MCAS Beaufort is to provide support as an operational base for MAG-31 and its associated squadrons, Marine Corps support units and tenant Navy strike fighter squadrons. The mission of the Marine Aircraft Group (MAG-31) is to conduct anti-air-warfare and offensive air support operations in support of Fleet Marine Forces from advanced bases, expeditionary airfields, or aircraft carriers and conduct such other air operations as may be directed. An additional Navy F/A-18 strike fighter squadron under the claimancy of Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic at NAS Oceana, Virginia is also homeported at MCAS Beaufort. The population of the on-base "city" includes nearly 4,000 active-duty servicemembers and more than 700 civilian workers.

As is the case with many air bases, MCAS Beaufort hosts a bi-annual air show open to the public. In April 2007, a fatal crash occurred involving an aircraft from the Blue Angels demonstration team during the show.

MCAS Beaufort's nickname is "Fightertown East". MCAS Miramar in San Diego, California is the more commonly known "Fightertown", also called "Fightertown USA", the latter having acquired the nickname when it was under Navy control as NAS Miramar.

MCAS Beaufort's Dental Clinic shares a building with the Medical Clinic. The Dental Clinic has 5-7 dentists who support the squadrons' oral health care needs.

The 1979 film The Great Santini, based on a novel written by Pat Conroy which centered on MCAS Beaufort in the early 1960s, was filmed on base and in the local area.

Based units[edit]

Flying and notable non-flying units based at MCAS Beaufort.[4][5][6]

United States Marine Corps[edit]

Marine Corps Installations – East

2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

Aircraft on display at the entrance[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "(NBC) BEAUFORT MCAS /MERRITT FIELD". Federal Aviation Administration. 5 November 2020. Retrieved 17 November 2020.
  2. ^ Aviation Safety Network: IATA: BFT, ICAO: KARW
  3. ^
  4. ^ Kaminski, Tom (2019). "Aircraft of the US Marine Corps". US Navy & Marine Corps Air Power Yearbook 2019. Key Publishing. pp. 88–92.
  5. ^ "Units". MCAS Beaufort. US Marine Corps. Retrieved 13 June 2020.
  6. ^ Buss, Kevin. "VMFAT-502 Activation and Re-designation". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 28 June 2020.
  7. ^ "FJ Fury/135841." Warbird Registry. Retrieved: 23 September 2014.
  8. ^ a b c d e "MCAS Beaufort, SC gate guards." Aircraft Resource Center. Retrieved: 23 September 2014.
  9. ^ "A-4C Skyhawk/147772." Warbird Registry. Retrieved: 23 September 2014.
  10. ^ "F8U Crusader/146963." Warbird Registry. Retrieved: 23 September 2014.
  11. ^ "F-4 Phantom II/152270." Warbird Registry. Retrieved: 23 September 2014.
  12. ^ "F/A-18 Hornet/163157." Warbird Registry. Retrieved: 23 September 2014.

External links[edit]