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Altus Air Force Base
Altus, Oklahoma in United States of America
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III of the 97th Air Mobility Wing based at Altus AFB.
Altus AFB is located in North America
Altus AFB
Altus AFB
Altus AFB is located in the United States
Altus AFB
Altus AFB
Altus AFB is located in Oklahoma
Altus AFB
Altus AFB
Coordinates34°39′59″N 099°16′05″W / 34.66639°N 99.26806°W / 34.66639; -99.26806
TypeUS Air Force base
Site information
OwnerDepartment of Defense
OperatorUS Air Force
Controlled byAir Education and Training Command (AETC)
Site history
Built1943 (1943)
In use1943–present
Garrison information
Colonel Blaine L Baker
Garrison97th Air Mobility Wing
Occupants See Based units section for full list.
Airfield information
IdentifiersIATA: LTS, ICAO: KLTS, FAA LID: LTS, WMO: 0-20000-0-72352
Elevation421 m (1,382 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
17R/35L 4,097 m (13,440 ft) Concrete
17L/35R 2,744 m (9,001 ft) Asphalt
Assault Strip 1,067 m (3,500 ft) Asphalt
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]

Altus Air Force Base (Altus AFB, AAFB) (IATA: LTS, ICAO: KLTS, FAA LID: LTS) is a United States Air Force base located approximately 4 miles (6.4 km) east-northeast of Altus, Oklahoma.

The host unit at Altus AFB is the 97th Air Mobility Wing (97 AMW), assigned to the Nineteenth Air Force (19 AF) of the Air Education and Training Command (AETC). The wing's mission is to provide C-17 Globemaster III, KC-135 Stratotanker and KC-46 Pegasus formal initial and advanced specialty training programs for up to 3,000 flight crew and aircraft maintenance students annually.

Altus AFB was established in 1943 as Altus Army Airfield (AAF). The 97 AMW commander is Colonel Blaine L. Baker. The Vice Commander is Colonel Jason P. Pavelschak. The Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant Randy Kay II Archived 11 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine.

Role and operations

The 97 AMW consists of the following major units:

Plans and executes C-17 and KC-135 formal school, initial and advanced specialty training programs for up to 3000 students annually. Sustains Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and Boeing KC-46 Pegasus airland, airdrop and air refueling mobility forces, providing global reach for combat and contingency operations. Provides air traffic control and weather forecasting for flying operations.
Provides mission, infrastructure, and community quality of life support for personnel and all assigned organizations on Altus AFB. Supports worldwide USAF taskings with deployment ready personnel and equipment.
Provides maintenance and support to all assigned aircraft and provides the same maintenance support to transient aircraft, engines and associated ground equipment. To provide backshop support to all three aircraft while continuously improving environmental awareness and effectively managing maintenance resources, allowing the 97th Air Mobility Wing to perform its aircrew training mission.
Ensures maximum wartime readiness and combat capability by promoting the health, safety and morale of active duty personnel. Staffs, trains, mobilizes and provides medical services in support of contingency operations worldwide. Develops and operates a prevention-oriented, cost-effective managed healthcare system for over 9,500 people.

Based units

Flying and notable non-flying units based at Altus Air Force Base.[2][3][4]

United States Air Force


Postwar era

The base became operational in January 1943, training new pilots on multi-engine aircraft. The primary training aircraft were the Cessna AT-17 Bobcat and the Curtiss-Wright AT-9 Jeep. On 15 May 1945, the airfield was placed on temporary inactive status.[5]

It later became an aircraft disposal point for the Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

Cold War

The base sat idle for only a few years. The onset of the Korean War in June 1950 created the need for more staff to fly

During the 1950s, the base underwent many changes and changed hands from TAC to the Strategic Air Command (SAC). Later that year, on 18 November, the 96th Bombardment Wing, Medium (96 BMW), arrived and began operations with three bomber squadrons and one air refueling squadron. The squadrons eventually flew the first all jet-engined bomber, the B-47 Stratojet and the KC-97 Stratofreighter, a dual-purpose cargo and air-refueling aircraft. By the end of the decade, both of these aircraft would be replaced by aircraft still in the Air Force inventory, the KC-135 Stratotanker and the B-52 Stratofortress. The KC-135 was the first all jet-engined air-refueling aircraft and the B-52 still remains the backbone of the USAF bomber fleet. When the 96th BW moved to Dyess AFB, Texas, the 11th Bombardment Wing (Heavy) activated and stood on alert during the Cold War.[5]

June 1961 witnessed the activation of twelve Atlas “F” intercontinental ballistic missile sites within a 40-mile radius of the base. Controlled by the 577th Strategic Missile Squadron, the missiles sat inside a silo, constructed underground with a launch facility, and staffed around the clock. The missile silos became operational on 10 October 1962, but the activation would be short-lived. The missile at the Frederick, OK, site exploded in May 1964. The missiles were outdated. By April 1965, the missiles were phased out of the national strategic defense plan.[5]

In August 1966, the 4th Mobile Communications Group transferred from Hunter AFB, Georgia, to Altus. The unit's mission consisted of providing mobile and transportable communication services, aiding navigation and air traffic control throughout the world.[5]

In 1967, the Air Force began searching for a base that could handle the training for its strategic airlift fleet, the C-141 Starlifter and its newest and largest transport aircraft, the C-5 Galaxy. Again, Oklahoma proved to be well suited for the mission. The Military Airlift Command (MAC) assumed command of the base from SAC and activated the 443d Military Airlift Wing (443 MAW), Training, to assume host wing responsibilities and to fly alongside the SAC aircraft that would become a tenant command at Altus.[5]

By the start of the 1970s, Altus AFB had three aircraft type/models assigned: KC-135s, C-141s, and C-5s. For the KC-135 aircraft at Altus still under SAC's control, the USAF activated the 340th Air Refueling Wing, which continued to operate the base's KC-135s.[5]

The 1990s and beyond

The post Cold War environment brought many changes to Altus AFB. On 1 June 1992, the Air Force reorganized and the Military Airlift Command (MAC) disestablished. In its place the new Air Mobility Command (AMC) was activated, which placed MAC's strategic and tactical airlift aircraft and SAC's aerial refueling aircraft under a single command. Second, the 443d Airlift Wing and the 340th Air Refueling Wing were inactivated, with the latter's aircraft transferred to the 19th Air Refueling Wing at Robins AFB, Georgia.[5]

On 1 October, the first Air Mobility Wing (AMW), the 97th Air Mobility Wing (97 AMW), arrived Altus without personnel or equipment, having formerly been designated as SAC's 97th Bombardment Wing and having been transferred from the deactivating Eaker AFB, Arkansas as a result of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) action. The 97 AMW was tasked with flight crew formal training unit (FTU) responsibilities for the C-141 and C-5 aircrew, and with the closure of Castle AFB, California due to BRAC action, concurrently assumed FTU responsibilities for KC-135E/R/T flight crews. On 1 July 1993, the 97th was transferred from AMC to the newly established Air Education and Training Command (AETC) as part of a USAF initiative to move most FTU activities to AETC.

More changes were on the horizon. In 1996, the latest addition to Altus AFB, the new C-17 Globemaster III, arrived. Even before its arrival, the base began training pilots and loadmasters to operate and fly the aircraft.[5]

In August 2002, the mission of the wing grew when the Air Force moved the basic loadmaster course from Sheppard AFB, Texas, to Altus. This initiative combined similar training programs to reduce the number of moves required by trainees while cutting overall costs. Additionally, during that same month, the wing reorganized as a "combat wing": the 97th Support Group became the 97th Mission Support Group, gaining the new 97th Logistics Readiness Squadron (comprising the former 97th Supply Squadron, 97th Transportation Squadron and logistics plans flight) and the 97th Contracting Squadron. Also, the 97th Logistics Group inactivated and the 97th Maintenance Directorate was activated. The directorate comprises civil-service personnel, who are responsible for the care and maintenance of all three airframes at the base.[5]

The 97 AMW discontinued FTU responsibilities for the C-141 concurrent with that aircraft's retirement from the USAF inventory in 2006. On 1 July 2007, the Air Force Reserve Command's (AFRC) 433d Airlift Wing (433 AW) at Lackland AFB/Kelly Field (former Kelly AFB) assumed responsibility for all flying training and academic training for the C-5 aircraft for all Regular Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) and Air National Guard (ANG) aircrews, leaving the 97 AMW and Altus to concentrate on C-17 and KC-135 training for AMC, USAFE, PACAF, AFRC and ANG aircrews.[6]

Previous names

Major commands to which assigned

Base operating units

Major units assigned

SM-65F Atlas Missile Sites

SM-65F Atlas Missile silos

The 577th Strategic Missile Squadron operated twelve missile sites, of one missile at each site:

See also


  1. ^ "Airport Data - (LTS) Altus AFB (LTS)". Federal Aviation Administration. 8 October 2020. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  2. ^ "Units". Altus Air Force Base. US Air Force. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  3. ^ "97th Contracting Flight". Altus Air Force Base. US Air Force. 11 July 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  4. ^ "97th Comptroller Squadron". Altus Air Force Base. US Air Force. 4 November 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "At a Glance: The Heritage of the 97th Air Mobility Wing and Altus Air Force Base" (PDF). Retrieved 26 March 2020.
  6. ^ "433rd Airlift Wing - 356th Airlift Squadron". Archived from the original on 10 June 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2016.

Other sources