Beale AFB: Past & Present

Beale AFB - History

Beale Air Force Base not only has a unique mission, but it was named for an unique individual. Unlike most other bases that were named for aviators, Beale was named for Edward Fitzgerald Beale (1822-1893), the nineteenth-century pioneer. Beale graduated from the Naval Academy, served in the California militia and led the experiment to replace Army mules with camels.

Camp Beale opened in October 1942, as a training site for the 13th Armored and the 81st and 96th Infantry Divisions. During World War II, Camp Beale’s 86,000 acres were home for more than 60,000 soldiers, a prisoner-of-war encampment, and a 1,000-bed hospital. In 1948, the camp transferred from the Army to the Air Force. The Air Force conducted bombardier and navigator training at Beale and in 1951 reactivated the Beale Bombing and Gunnery Range for aviation engineer training. The base has been under several commands, including Air Training Command, Continental Air Command, Aviation Engineer Force, the Strategic Air Command, and since June 1, 1992, Air Combat Command.

In May 1959, Colonel Paul K. Carlton assumed command of the recently activated 4126th Strategic Wing. The first two KC-135s arrived two months later on July 7,1959. On January 18, 1960, the 31st Bombardment Squadron with its B-52s arrived at Beale to become part of the wing. The 14th Air Division moved to Beale from Travis AFB, one week later. On February 1, 1963, SAC redesignated the 4126th as the 456th Strategic Aerospace Wing. On September 30, 1975, the 456th Bombardment Wing deactivated and the 17th Bombardment Wing activated in its place. On September 30, 1976, the 17th deactivated and the 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz., became the 100th Air Refueling Wing and moved to Beale. Many of the people and the tankers that had been part of the 17th now became members of the 100th. The 17th Wing’s B-52s moved to other bases. The 100th ARW stayed at Beale until March 15, 1983, when the Air Force deactivated the wing and consolidated its refueling mission and assets into the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing. From 1959 until 1965, Beale was support base for three Titan I missile sites near Lincoln, Chico, and the Sutter Buttes. On July 1, 1979, the 7th Missile Warning Squadron brought the Phased Array Warning System (PAVE PAWS) Radar site to Beale. This 10-story structure can detect possible attack by sea-launched ballistic missiles or track a global satellite.

On October 15, 1964, the Department of Defense announced that Beale would be the home of the new, supersonic reconnaissance aircraft, the SR-71 “Blackbird.” The 4200th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing activated on January 1, 1965. The new wing received its first aircraft, a T-38 Talon, on July 8, 1965. The first SR-71 did not arrive until January 7, 1966.

On June 25, 1966, the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, that began as the 9th Observation Group in 1922 and its 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron activated as the 1st Aero Squadron in 1913, replaced the 4200th. The first U-2 arrived from Davis Monthan on July 12, 1976. Until January 26, 1990, when budget restrictions forced the retirement of the SR-71, Beale AFB was the home of two of the world’s most unique aircraft.

In July 1994, the 350th Air Refueling Squadron transferred from Beale to McConnell AFB, Kansas, taking the last of the KC-135Q tankers with it. Tankers returned in 1998 when the 940 th Air Refueling Wing, an Air Force Reserve unit, transferred to Beale. In 2001, the 12 th Reconnaissance Squadron activated at Beale as the parent organization for the GLOBAL HAWK, another Air Force high-altitude reconnaissance platform.

Keep the tradition alive. Donate to Beale.

Beale AFB - Today

9th Reconnaissance Wing

The 9TH RECONNAISSANCE WING’S mission is to deliver persistent, integrated reconnaissance and combat power for our nation. The 9 RW vision is, “empowered Airmen driving decision advantage and lethal force, protecting our way of life.” The guiding principles for the Wing are, “Simplify, Unify and Win.” To accomplish its mission, the Wing is equipped with the nation’s fleet of U-2 reconnaissance aircraft and associated support equipment to deliver critical imagery and signals intelligence to decision makers. The wing also maintains a high state of readiness in its expeditionary combat support forces for potential deployment in
response to theater contingencies.

Beale AFB is also home to several other Air Force Units.

548th Intelligence Group

The 548TH mission is to deliver combat power from the air with intelligence that assures Allies and wins wars. The Group consists of more than 1,400 officer, enlisted, Guard, Reserve, civilian, and contract personnel spanning more than 40 Air Force Specialties responsible for
operation and maintenance of more than $2 billion dollars’ worth of Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS) equipment. The 548th ISR Group main body at Beale AFB, California, is comprised of four active duty squadrons, two Air Force Reserve  squadrons, two California
Air National Guard squadrons, along with a geographically-separated detachment at Davis Monthan AFB, Arizona.

940th Air Refueling Wing

The 940TH AIR REFUELING WING’S mission is to provide mission ready citizen Airmen in support of United States National Security objectives. The vision of a premier Air Refueling Wing, “Ready first. Any time. Any place!” dates back to 1963 when mission transitioned to air transport, military airlift, tactical airlift, and air refueling.

The Department of the Air Force has recognized the success by awarding seven consecutive Outstanding Unit Awards. During Operation Desert Storm, the 940th ARW deployed six KC-135 aircraft and 187 unit reservists.

The unit also supported Operations Iraqi Freedom/ New Dawn, Enduring Freedom, Restore Hope, Tomodachi, Pacific Passage, and Oddys-Sey Dawn

7th Space Warning Squadron

The 7TH SPACE WARNING SQUADRON, guards the US West Coast against sea-Launched ballistic missiles fired from submarines in the Pacific Ocean. The unit is a geographically separated unit of Space Delta 4, Buckley  space Force Base, Colo. The unit then determines how many missiles were launched and their probable destination, and reports that to the Missile Warning Center, located within Cheyenne Mountain AFS and Alternate Missile Warning Center at Offutt AFB. This unit helps form a two-layered, worldwide network of missile warning systems that also detects ICBMs within its field of view.

195th Air National Guard

The 195th Wing – California Air National Guard’s mission is to utilize cutting-edge technology and unparalleled expertise to provide critical information, electromagnetic effects, and secure networks while cultivating strategic partnerships and applying innovative strategies to remain relevant in an ever-changing operational landscape. The 195th Wing aims to be the foremost leader in C5ISR by delivering transformational and integrated solutions that offer our mission partners unrivaled information  superiority and a decisive edge in multi-domain operations. The Wing’s priorities are “Improved Mission Execution, Airmen Growth, and Be an Innovation Hub.”

Beginning as a tactical airlift group in 1971 the reactivation in 2015, the 195th was assigned to the California Air National Guard. The 195th is the hub for all non-flying, non-kinetic global effects operations for California ANG leading the way in cyber, intelligence, and space mission areas.

For more information contact Beale Air Force Base “Base Operator” at (530) 634-3000 or “Public Affairs” at (530) 634-8887.