Strategic Air Command
SAC Bases:  Mountain Home Air Force Base
Location: Idaho
Home of: 5th Bomb Wing,  9th Bomb Wing
Status:  Now home of the 366th Fighter Wing
Links:  Mountain Home AFB

      Construction of Mountain Home Army Air Field in Idaho began in November 1942 and the new field officially opened August 7, 1943. Shortly thereafter, airman at the field began training United States Army Air Force crews for World War II. The 396th Bombardment Group (Heavy) was the first unit assigned and its planned mission was to train crews for the B-17. However, before the first B-17s arrived, plans for the field changed and the 396th was transferred to Moses Lake, Washington.   Instead of training B-17 crews, Mountain Home airmen began training crews for the B-24 Liberator. The first group to do so was the 470th Bombardment Group (Heavy), which trained at Mountain Home from May 1, 1943, until January 1944, when the unit moved to Nevada. The 490th Bombardment Group (Heavy) replaced the 470th and trained B-24 crews until it deployed to England in April 1944. The 494th Bombardment Group then replaced the 490th, once more training Liberator crews.
     The base also received fighter aircraft to add realism to its training. A few P-38 and P-63 pursuit planes arrived in January 1945 to simulate attacks on B-24s. In June 1945, Mountain Home also briefly served as a training base for the new B-29 Superfortress, but the end of the war in August brought a swift end to the new mission and, for a time, to the base at Mountain Home. The base was placed in inactive status in October 1945.  The base remained inactive until December 1948 when the newly independent United States Air Force assigned first the 5th Reconnaissance Group and then the 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing and their RB-17s to Idaho and the newly renamed Mountain Home Air Force Base. This new lease on life was short-lived, however, lasting only until April 1950, when the base once again closed.
     But less than a year later, the base was reactivated, hosting the 580th, 581st, and 582nd Air Resupply and Communications Wings over the next three years. They flew C-119, B-29 and SA-16 aircraft and trained to support what we know today as covert and special operations.
      When the last of these wings departed for overseas duty in 1953, the base was transferred to Strategic Air Command which assigned its 9th Bombardment Wing to Mountain Home. The 9th relocated to Mountain Home AFB in May 1953, and began flying B-29 bombers and KB-29H refueling aircraft. The 9th began converting to the new B-47 Stratojet bomber and the KC-97 tanker in September 1954, keeping alert bombers ready for war at a moments notice and continuing its mission as a deterrent force throughout the Cold War years of the 1950s and early 1960s.
     In 1959, construction of three Titan missile sites began in the local area. The 569th Strategic Missile Squadron controlled these sites and was assigned to the 9th Bombardment Wing in August 1962. To prepare for the addition of missiles to its bomber forces, Air Force redesignated the wing as the 9th Strategic Aerospace Wing in April 1962.
     A few years later, the Strategic Air Command mission at Mountain Home began to wind down, and in November 1964, the Air Force announced that the missile sites would be closed. In late 1965, the Air Force also began phasing out the aging B-47 bomber and announced plans to bring the 67th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing to Mountain Home.
      In January 1966, with the closure of the missile sites and the move of the 67th to Mountain Home, control of the base passed from Strategic Air Command to Tactical Air Command. The 67th flew RF-4C aircraft and conducted photographic, visual, radar, and thermal reconnaissance operations. Two years later the 67th also conducted tactical fighter operations with the addition of a squadron of F-4D Phantoms. This fighter mission lasted until late 1970 when the F-4Ds were reassigned.
      In June 1992, as part of Air Force restructuring, Air Combat Command replaced Tactical Air Command. A month later, the 366th also gained the 34th Bomb Squadron. The 34th, which was located at Castle AFB, California, flew the B-52G Stratofortress, giving the composite wing deep interdiction bombing capabilities as the only B-52 unit armed with the deadly, long-range HAVE NAP missile.
     Not long afterwards, in October 1992, the composite wing gained its final flying squadron when the 22nd Air Refueling Squadron was activated and equipped with the KC-135R Stratotankers. These tankers give the wing its ability to deploy globally at a moment's notice.
     In another change, on April 1, 1994, the 34th Bomb Squadron transferred its flag to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota. At the same time the squadron’s B-52Gs were retired, making way for the the squadron to be equipped with the technologically advanced B-1B Lancer. Next, a gradual transfer of the B-1s from Ellsworth to Mountain Home began in August 1996.
     The squadron completed a move to Mountain Home on April 1, 1997, when its flag was officially transferred to the Gunfighter home base.   Also in 1996, the wing gained yet another operational squadron. On June 21st, the 726th Air Control Squadron was reassigned from Shaw AFB, South Carolina, to Mountain Home. The new squadron brought mobile radar surveillance, and command and control capabilities to the composite wing. In late October 1996, the wing’s senior leadership also announced a new name for the 366th Wing. Henceforth, it would be known as the “Air Expeditionary Wing” in keeping with an Air Force decision to stand up “battle lab” at Mountain Home to refine the new concept. The wing would soon begin working out the most efficient procedures for moving an airpower expeditionary force to pre-selected locations around the world.
      The 366th is the Air Force's premier air expeditionary wing. With the support of KC-135R Stratotankers, the wing blends the firepower of F-15C Eagles, F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16C Fighting Falcons and B-1B Lancers to form a single, cohesive aerial strike force. What makes the 366th Wing unique is its air expeditionary mission. The wing is designed to deploy with its own command, control, computer, communications and intelligence capabilities. Rather than building a composite wing at a deployed site, the 366th Wing is a composite force already built and trained, ready to fight and intervene anytime, anywhere.