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Nouasseur AB

 

Nouasseur AB

Template:Infobox military structure Nouasseur Air Base (IATA: EVXICAO: LFOE) near Casablanca, French Morocco is a former United States Air Force Strategic Air Command (SAC) base. It was designed for B-36 and B-47 bombers.

Today, Nouasseur AB is known as Mohammed V International Airport.

Origins

USAF air base siting in French Morocco developed out of the Allied presence there at the close of World War II. In the early 1950s, SAC developed a reflex operation strategy between its southern bases and Morocco, with B-36 and B-47 wings rotating to North Africa for extended temporary duty as a staging area for bombers pointed at the Soviet Union.

Nouasseur Air Base was constructed by Atlas Constructors[1] (A Joint Venture led by Morrison-Knudsen (M-K) which also included the Nello L. Teer Company, Bates & Rogers Construction Corp., Blythe Bros. Company, and Ralph R. Mills Co., Inc.), assisted by the 496th Air Installation Squadron (AIS) of the US Air Force[verification needed] from August 1951 to June 1952.

SAC's 5th Air Division was activated on 14 January 1951, at Offutt AFB, NE then moved without personnel and equipment, to Rabat/Sale in May 1951, absorbing the resources and responsibilities of the USAF Mission to Morocco. The division was assigned the task of manning, training and equipping assigned units and preparing installations in French Morocco for the support of deployed SAC units.

SAC use

In December 1951, the 118th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron was transferred to Nouasseur. The majority of the 118th Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron personnel were located at Nouasseur Air Base, but they also had detachments in the field in the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert. Their mission was to calibrate, set up, and maintain early warning and tactical control radar and radio sites in support of the Strategic Air Command.

Nouasseur Air Base was critically important for SAC during its forward deployment exercises. Nouasseur was quite capable of hosting any of SAC's aircraft, with an asphalt-concrete runway of 12,000 feet. The airfield became operational in June 1952.

The aircraft flown by SAC to Morocco from the United States remained on alert status for a specified number of days, then returned to their CONUS bases. The 5th Air Division never had any assigned combat units, such as wings, only individual aircraft that were assigned to units back in the United States. The 5th Air Division's did oversee the 3922d Air Base (Later: Combat Support) Group as the base operating unit. The division commander also acted as a representative to the Moroccan Liaison Office for the Commander, 16th Air Force.

During the middle and late-1950s, SAC adopted a dispersal program—spreading out its potential as a Soviet target by placing its aircraft, weapons, and personnel on many more bases, with each bombardment wing having two additional installations to which it could disperse. Nouasseur was one of a ring of overseas SAC air bases located from Greenland to North Africa.

In addition, SAC devised a deployment program to use its shorter-range B-47s, which Nouasseur hosted, rotating squadrons on a 90-day basis and kept the aircraft on 15-minute alert for that time period. The overseas bases moved the B-47s into effective range of their targets without aerial refueling.

USAFE F-86 Sabres began flying gunnery training missions during the spring of 1954 from Nouasseur.

The 5th Air Division was inactivated on 15 January 1958. It was replaced by the 4310th Air Division, which remained the host unit until the base closed in 1963.

With the destabilization of the French government in Morocco, and Moroccan independence in 1956, the government of Mohammed V wanted the US Air Force to pull out of the SAC bases in Morocco, insisting on such action after American intervention in Lebanon in 1958.

The United States agreed to leave as of December 1959, and was fully out of Nouasseur Air Base, closing the facility on 15 August 1963.

References

External links

  • Nouasseur-Nelson C. Brown Elementary & High School Alumni Association
  • Nouasseur Air Base Map
  • Nouasseur @ GlobalSecurity.Org
  • 3973d Combat Defense Squadron's Webpage for the SAC's 16th Air Force Units and Bases, Nouasseur AB, Morocco

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