Cannon Air Force Base, a major Air Combat
Command installation, lies in the high plains of eastern New Mexico, near
the Texas Panhandle. The base is six miles west of Clovis, N. M. and is
4,295 feet above sea level.
Cannon is the home of the 27th
Fighter Wing. The primary mission of the 27th Fighter Wing is to
maintain an F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter wing capable of day and night
combat operations for war fighting commanders, world-wide, at any time.
The history of the base began in the late
1920’s, when a civilian passenger facility, Portair Field, was established
on the site. Portair, a terminal for early commercial transcontinental
flights, flew passengers in the Ford Tri-motor “Tin Goose” by day, and used
Pullman trains for night travel. In the 1930’s Portair was renamed Clovis
After the United States entered World War II,
the first military unit to use the facility was a glider detachment. The 16th
Bombardment Operational Wing, a training unit for B-24, B-17 and then B-29
heavy bombers, arrived in January 1943. On April 8, 1943, the base was
renamed Clovis Army Air Field. Flying, bombing, gunnery and photographic
reconnaissance classes continued through the end of World War II.
After World War II
mid-1946, however, the airfield was placed on reduced operational status and
flying activities decreased. The installation was deactivated in May 1947.
The base was reactivated and assigned to
Tactical Air Command (TAC) in July 1951. The first unit, the 140th
Fighter Bomber Wing, arrived in October of that year. Air National Guard
elements from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming made up the 140th, which
flew the P-51 “Mustang” fighter. The 140th formally reactivated
the airfield on November 15, 1951, as Clovis Air Force Base. At the end of
1952, the 140threturned to Air National Guard control.
The 50thFighter Bomber Wing, another
fighter unit, was activated at the base January 1, 1953. The F-86 “Sabre”
began arriving in early 1953. The 50thFighter Bomber Wing
served at the base until it was transferred overseas in August of that year.
Clovis AFB’s second F-86 unit was the 388th
Fighter Bomber Wing, activated in November 1953. The 388thwas
sent overseas in October 1954. It was replaced at the base by the 312th
Fighter Bomber Group, which flew F-84s before switching to the F-86 in 1955.
A second fighter bomber group, the 474th,
transferred to Clovis AFB from Taegu, Korea, in December 1954. The base
became a major training installation for “Sabre” pilots. The first F-100
“Super-Sabre” arrived in December 1956. The F-100 became the principal base
aircraft for the next 12 years.
Several changes occurred at Clovis AFB in 1957.
On June 8, the base was renamed Cannon AFB in honor of the late General John
K. Cannon, a former commander of Tactical Air Command. In October of the
same year, the 312thand 474thFighter Bomber Groups
were redesignated tactical fighter wings. The 832nd> Air Division
was activated to oversee their activities.
Cannon F-100s and crews deployed to Taiwan
during the 1958 Formosa Crisis. They also deployed to Turkey the same
year. In 1959, the 312thwas deactivated and replaced at Cannon
by the 27thTactical Fighter Wing. The 27th, another
F-100 unit, transferred to Cannon from Bergstrom AFB, Texas. Succeeding
major deployments of Cannon’s F-100s took place during the 1961 Berlin
Crisis and the 1962 Cuban Crisis.
Units from Cannon deployed the first F-100
squadron to Thailand in 1962-1963, and Vietnam in 1964. In 1965, other
deployments to Thailand and Vietnam followed.
Fighter Wing moved to Luke AFB, Arizona, in September 1965. In
December1965, the base’s mission changed to a replacement training unit.
The 27thTactical Fighter Wing became the largest such unit in
After three years of F-100 replacement training
operations, the 27thbegan conversion to the F-111. In late
1969, the wing received its first F-111E aircraft and in July 1972, the last
operational Air Force F-100s were transferred to the Air National Guard. In
mid-1972, the 27thcompleted conversion to the highly
sophisticated F-111D, after ferrying the F-111Es to England. There were
three operational fighter squadrons and one training squadron.The 27th also trained forward air
controllers and air liaison officers in AT-33s from 1968 to 1973. The 481st
Tactical Fighter Training Squadron was deactivated in January 1980 and the
524thTactical Fighter Squadron was redesignated the 524th
Tactical Fighter Training Squadron. That left the 27th with one
training and two operational fighter squadrons.
December 28, 1988, marked the beginning of
Cannon’s expansion as a result of decisions made by the Secretary of
Defense’s Commission on Base Realignment and Closures. On April 1, 1990,
the 428thFighter Training Squadron was reactivated at Cannon AFB
as part of the installation’s expanding mission. With the reactivation of
the 428thFTS, FB-111 aircraft from Strategic Air Command arrived
at Cannon and were converted to F-111Gs. F-111Es replaced Cannon’s squadron
of F-111Gs when they were retired.
On June 1, 1992, Cannon AFB and the 27th
Fighter Wing were integrated into Air Combat Command as part of the
reorganization of Tactical Air Command and Strategic Air Command. Three
squadrons of F-111Fs arrived from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England,
replacing Cannon’s fleet of F-111Ds in 1993. The 430th
Electronic Combat Squadron’s 25 EF-111A Ravens began arriving from the 390th
ECS, Mountain Home, Idaho, and the 42nd ECS, RAF Upper Heyford,
England in May 1992. The 430thECS was replaced by the 429th
ECS in June 1993.
With the retirement of the F-111, Cannon became
home for 69 F-16s in March 1995.
The first operational flight of the F-16
lifted off Cannon’s runway in September 1995. Three fighter squadrons --522
FS, 523 FS, 524 FS--were fully equipped with F-16s by August 1996.
Following a period of training, the first operational squadron was ready for
combat operations around the world in January 1997. The wing also
maintained its EF-111 mission as the only Raven unit in the Air Force.
The United States Air Force officially retired
the EF-111A June 30, 1998. This retirement ended the 429 ECS' 2,780 days
and 32 rotations of continuous support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. As a
result of the retirement, the 429thElectronic Combat Squadron
was inactivated June 19, 1998.
On September 15, 1998, the 428th
Fighter Squadron was reactivated at Cannon AFB. The PEACE CARVIN III
squadron is a hybrid US Air Force/Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)
F-16 Fighter Squadron manned by highly experienced USAF instructor pilots,
maintenance and support personnel. The squadron should be fully equipped by
March 2000 and will operate 12 RSAF-owned Block 52, F-16C/Ds. With a
contingent of USAF personnel and 140 RSAF personnel, the unit is responsible
for continuation training of Singapore personnel in rapid deployment and
tactical employment of the F-16 throughout a wide spectrum of missions
including air-to-air, joint maritime and precision air-to-ground weapons
Under the new expeditionary Air Force concept,
the 27th FW continues its tradition of providing superior combat power in its
role as the lead wing for Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) rotations when