|MacDill Air Force Base|
|Near Tampa, Florida in United States|
|Type||US Air Force Base|
|Owner||Department of Defense|
|Operator||US Air Force|
|Controlled by||Air Mobility Command (AMC)|
|Built||1939(as Southeast Air Base, Tampa)|
|Identifiers||IATA: MCF, ICAO: KMCF, FAA LID: MCF, WMO: 747880|
|Elevation||4.2 metres (14 ft) AMSL|
|Source: Federal Aviation Administration|
MacDill Air Force Base (MacDill AFB) (IATA: MCF, ICAO: KMCF, FAA LID: MCF) is an active United States Air Force installation located 4 miles (6.4 km) south-southwest of downtown Tampa, Florida.
The "host wing" for MacDill AFB is the 6th Air Refueling Wing (6 ARW), assigned to the Eighteenth Air Force of the Air Mobility Command. The 6 ARW is commanded by Colonel Adam D. Bingham. The Wing Command Chief is Chief Master Sergeant Shae Gee.
MacDill Air Force Base, located in South Tampa, was constructed as MacDill Field, a U.S. Army Air Corps, later U.S. Army Air Forces, installation just prior to World War II. With the establishment of the U.S. Air Force as an independent service in September 1947, it became MacDill Air Force Base. During the 1950s and 1960s, it was a Strategic Air Command (SAC) installation for B-47 Stratojet bombers. In the early 1960s, it transitioned to a Tactical Air Command (TAC) installation, briefly operating the F-84 Thunderstreak jet fighter before transitioning to the F-4 Phantom II. During the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, it operated F-4 Phantom II fighters under various fighter wings, followed by F-16 Fighting Falcons in the mid-1980s to early 1990s.
MacDill became an Air Mobility Command installation in 1996 and home to the 6th Air Refueling Wing, its 310th Airlift Squadron flying the C-37A, and its 50th Air Refueling Squadron and 91st Air Refueling Squadron flying the KC-135. The 6 ARW is further augmented by the Air Force Reserve Command's 927th Air Refueling Wing and 63d Air Refueling Squadron also flying KC-135s.
MacDill AFB is also home to the headquarters for two of the U.S. military's unified combatant commands: Headquarters, United States Central Command, and Headquarters, United States Special Operations Command. Both commands are independent from one another and each is commanded by a respective four-star general or admiral.
Two additional subunified commands are also headquartered at MacDill AFB: Commander, United States Marine Corps Forces Central Command, commanded by a three-star general, and United States Special Operations Command Central commanded by a two-star general or admiral.
MacDill AFB was originally established in 1939 as Southeast Air Base, Tampa. It is named in honor of Colonel Leslie MacDill (1889–1938).
The B-26 earned the slogan "One a day in Tampa Bay" due to the number of early-model B-26 aircraft that ditched or crashed into the Tampa Bay waters surrounding MacDill Field. Early models of the B-26 aircraft proved hard to fly and land by many pilots due to its short wings, high landing speeds, and fighter-plane maneuverability. Improvements to the Block 10 version of the aircraft, known as the B-26B-10, added six feet of additional wingspan and upgraded engines that eliminated most of these problems.
Deliveries of the new Boeing B-47A Stratojet to the Air Force and SAC began in December 1950, and the aircraft entered service in May 1951 with the 306th Bombardment Wing.
The 809th Air Division (809th AD) took over host unit responsibilities for MacDill AFB on 16 June 1952.
In June 1952, the 305th upgraded to the all-jet Boeing B-47B Stratojet.
Although control of MacDill AFB would pass from SAC to TAC in the early 1960s, SAC continued to maintain a periodic presence at MacDill in the form of dispersal alert operations of B-52 and KC-135 aircraft from other SAC bombardment wings, using the extant SAC Alert Facility at MacDill. These operations continued until the early 1980s.
The first attempt to close MacDill AFB was made in 1960, when the impending phaseout of SAC's B-47 bombers caused it to be listed as surplus and slated for closure. However, the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 highlighted the base's strategic location and its usefulness as a staging area. As a result, the cuts were stayed and the base repurposed for a tactical mission with fighter aircraft. In response to the crisis, the United States Strike Command was also established at MacDill as a crisis response force; it was one of the first unified commands, a command that draws manpower and equipment from all branches of the U.S. military.
In 1962, MacDill AFB was transferred from SAC to TAC. Bomber aircraft remained home-based at MacDill until the 306th Bombardment Wing's transfer to McCoy AFB, and SAC continued to maintain a tenant presence at MacDill through the 1980s, using their alert facility as a dispersal location for B-52 and KC-135 aircraft. But for all practical purposes, the 1960s marked MacDill's transition from a bomber-centric SAC base to a fighter-centric TAC installation. Under TAC, MacDill AFB remained a fighter base for almost 30 years, but other changes went on in the background.
On 17 April 1962, the 15th Tactical Fighter Wing was activated at MacDill and assigned to 9th Air Force. Initially equipped with theF-84F Thunderjet, in 1964 the 15th TFW subsequently upgraded to the tail-coded McDonnell-Douglas F-4C Phantom II. In 1970, U.S. Strike Command was renamed United States Readiness Command.
They were to also press napalm and rocket attacks against surface-to-air missile sites at Mariel and Sagua La Grande, as well as the airfields at Santa Clara, Los Banos, and San Julien.
On 10 January 1970, the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing was reassigned without personnel or equipment to MacDill. In 1972, the 1st TFW standardized all of its aircraft with the common wing tail code "FF".
In 1980, the new Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force was activated, and in 1983, it became United States Central Command. Also in 1987, United States Special Operations Command was activated at MacDill AFB, occupying the former facilities of USREDCOM.
At Super Bowl XVIII and again at Super Bowl XXV, both played at Tampa Stadium, 56th Tactical Training Wing aircraft performed the flyover and missing man formation after the national anthem.
By the early 1990s and the end of the Cold War, the U.S. was looking to downsize the military and eliminate a large number of bases in the United States as a cost-savings measure. MacDill AFB figured prominently in this; the Tampa area had seen substantial increases in commercial air traffic at the two international airports within 10 nautical miles of MacDill, creating hazardous conditions for F-16 training, and the noise associated with the high-performance jets was deemed unsuitable for high-density residential areas such as those around MacDill. As a result, the 1991 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) ordered that all flight-line activities cease at MacDill AFB by 1993.
As a result of the BRAC decision, the F-16 training mission and the 56th Fighter Wing were moved without personnel or equipment to Luke Air Force Base, outside of Phoenix, Arizona, and was reassigned to Air Education and Training Command.
In August 1992, just prior to the landfall of Hurricane Andrew in southern Florida, the 31st Fighter Wing (31 FW) and the Air Force Reserve's 482d Fighter Wing, both based at Homestead AFB, executed an emergency hurricane evacuation of all of their flyable F-16C and F-16D aircraft, with the bulk of those aircraft temporarily staging at MacDill. Given the level of destruction at Homestead AFB, these fighter aircraft remained at MacDill for several months thereafter.
In 1993, with the help of local Representative Bill Young (R-FL), the flight-line closure order for MacDill was rescinded and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration transferred from their former aircraft operations center at Miami International Airport to Hangar 5 at MacDill AFB to use the base and its flight line as their new home station for weather reconnaissance and research flights.
On 1 January 1994, the Air Combat Command's 6th Air Base Wing (6 ABW) stood up at MacDill AFB to operate the base and provide support services for the large and growing number of tenant units, as well as to provide services for transient air units. Later that year, the base served as the primary staging facility for Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti.
This staging was considered evidence of the quality and usefulness of the MacDill runway and flight line, even in light of the high civilian air traffic levels in the Tampa Bay area from nearby Tampa International Airport, St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, and Peter O. Knight Airport. With further congressional prodding and lobbying, MacDill was chosen as the site for a KC-135 air refueling mission. With the arrival of 12 KC-135R tankers and the 91st Air Refueling Squadron from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, the 6 ABW was renamed the 6th Air Refueling Wing (6 ARW) on 1 October 1996 and transferred from ACC to the Air Mobility Command (AMC).
In January 2001, the 310th Airlift Squadron (310 AS) was activated at the base, flying the CT-43A and EC-135Y, the former aircraft providing executive transport to the commander of United States Southern Command in Miami and the latter aircraft providing executive transport and airborne command post capabilities to the commanders of USCENTCOM and USSOCOM at MacDill. New C-37A aircraft were delivered starting in 2001, and the CT-43 and EC-135s were subsequently removed from service. The 310th's primary mission is dedicated airlift support for the commanders of USCENTCOM, USSOCOM, and USSOUTHCOM. With the addition of the 310 AS, the wing was given its current designation as the 6th Air Mobility Wing (6 AMW).
In April 2008, pursuant to BRAC action, the Air Force Reserve Command's 927th Air Refueling Wing relocated from Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Michigan, to MacDill AFB, where it became an associate wing to the 6 AMW, also flying KC-135R aircraft.
In late 2003/early 2004, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command vacated its Tampa "rear headquarters" at MacDill AFB, a complex that was established in the early 1990s following the first Gulf War and commanded by a flag officer, either an upper half or lower half rear admiral concurrently assigned as the USNAVCENT/US 5th Fleet Deputy Commander (DEPCOMUSNAVCENT/DEPCOMFIFTHFLT), and his staff when they were not forward deployed to the Persian Gulf region. In vacating the MacDill AFB facility, all USNAVCENT staff activities were consolidated at COMUSNAVCENT/COMFIFTHFLT headquarters in Manama, Bahrain.
NAVCENT's facility at MacDill AFB was subsequently turned over to the Deputy Commander, U.S. Marine Forces Central Command (DEPCOMUSMARCENT), and his staff. It would later become the overall Headquarters, U.S. Marine Forces Central Command, while the Commanding General for MARCENT (COMUSMARCENT) would remain a dual-hatted function of the Commanding General, I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) at Camp Pendleton, California. From late 2003 until 2012, the Commanding General remained in California, while his MARCENT staff primarily resided at MacDill AFB with an additional forward element at Naval Support Activity Bahrain in Manama, Bahrain. In 2012, the COMUSMARCENT and CG I MEF billets were broken into separate billets and COMUSMARCENT took up full-time residency in MARCENT's headquarters facility at MacDill AFB, upgrading the facility to a 3-star headquarters.
Also in late 2004/early 2005, Naval Reserve Center Tampa vacated its obsolescent waterfront location in downtown Tampa, consolidated with the former Naval Reserve Center St. Petersburg adjacent to Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, and relocated to a newly constructed facility on the south side of MacDill AFB. In 2006, this facility was renamed Navy Operational Support Center Tampa, concurrent with the shift in name of the U.S. Naval Reserve to the U.S. Navy Reserve and its greater integration into the Fleet and shore establishment of the Regular Navy. Under the command of an active duty full-time support (FTS) U.S. Navy Captain, NOSC Tampa provides administrative support for all Navy Reserve personnel assigned to both local independent Navy Reserve units at NOSC Tampa and to the various joint and service commands and activities at MacDill AFB, CGAS Clearwater and Marine Corps Reserve Center Tampa.
The Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE) is a joint command headquartered at MacDill AFB that deploys to provide en route, early entry, scalable command, control, communications and computer (C4) support to the geographical Unified Combatant Commands, the U.S. Special Operations Command, and other military commands and U.S. Government agencies as directed. On order, JCSE provides additional C4 services within 72 hours to support larger Commander, Joint Task Force/Commander, Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJTF/CJSOTF) headquarters across the full spectrum of operations. JCSE is commanded by a U.S. Army Colonel and consists of a Headquarters Support Squadron (HSS), a Communications Support Detachment (CSD), three active-duty joint communications squadrons: the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Joint Communications Squadrons, and the 4th Joint Communications Squadron, the 4th being a U.S. Army Reserve squadron. All are located on the JCSE compound at MacDill AFB. JCSE also includes two additional joint communications support squadrons from the Air National Guard: the 224th Joint Communications Support Squadron (224 JCSS) of the Georgia Air National Guard in Brunswick, Georgia, and the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron (290 JCSS) of the Florida Air National Guard located in its own compound separate from JCSE at MacDill AFB.
As mentioned above, the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron (290 JCSS) of the Florida Air National Guard is another tenant unit at MacDill AFB. The 290 JCSS provides Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed globally deployable, en route, and early entry communications support to geographic combatant commands, the United States Special Operations Command, individual U.S. armed services, other Department of Defense activities and combat support agencies, other U.S. Government agencies, and the State of Florida. The squadron deploys modular, scalable support to large Joint and Combined War-fighting Command and Control (C2) headquarters nodes. Under its Title 10 USC "Federal" mission, the 290 JCSS is associated with the U.S. Transportation Command's Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC) and the Joint Communications Support Element (JCSE). As a USAF organization, the 290 JCSS is operationally gained by the Air Mobility Command (AMC). Under its Title 32 USC "state" mission, the squadron reports to the Governor of Florida via the Assistant Adjutant General for Air (ATAG-Air) and The Adjutant General (TAG) of the Florida National Guard./
The newest tenant command at MacDill AFB is the 598th Range Squadron (598 RANS), an Air Combat Command (ACC) unit that was activated at the MacDill AFB Auxiliary Field at Avon Park Air Force Range, Florida on 22 September 2015. The 598 RANS replaced Detachment 1, 23d Fighter Group, which had previously managed the range and additional facilities at MacDill AFB. The 598 RANS operates both the Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR) and the 23rd Wing Deployed Unit Complex (DUC) located at MacDill AFB. The DUC is a separate flight line facility on the west side of MacDill AFB for transient military flight crews, maintenance crews and fighter and attack aircraft utilizing the APAFR. This permits visiting squadrons to have ready access to APAFR while concurrently taking advantage of the more robust billeting, messing and aircraft maintenance support capabilities at MacDill AFB. This combination of facilities between MacDill AFB and the APAFR provides extensive, diversified and convenient training airspace and ranges with unique training capabilities for military air, ground and air-to-ground training. The squadron's higher headquarters, the 23d Fighter Group, is located at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
In September 2019, the 310th Airlift squadron inactivated. The squadron had operated three C-37A Gulfstream V and provided global special assignment airlift missions (SAAM) in support of the commanders of the unified combatant commands. As a result, with its primary mission now aerial refueling, the 6th Air Mobility Wing was re-designated as the 6th Air Refueling Wing.
The flyover and Missing man formations for Super Bowl XXV, Super Bowl XXXV and Super Bowl XLIII, played at Raymond James Stadium, came from KC-135 aircraft from MacDill's 6th Air Mobility Wing, with additional flyovers by a B-2 Spirit from the 509th Bomb Wing and F-22 Raptor aircraft from the 325th Fighter Wing. The former flyover was the first Super Bowl flyover to be telecast in high definition.
In early 2011, several news outlets, primarily in the United Kingdom, reported that Ntrepid, a California software and hardware company, had been awarded a $2.76 million U.S. government contract to create false online personas to counter the threat of terrorism and could possibly run their operation from MacDill AFB. These reports were never confirmed or acknowledged by the U.S. military.
In its 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Recommendations, DoD recommended to realign Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota. It would distribute the 319th Air Refueling Wing's KC-135R aircraft to the 6th Air Mobility Wing (6 AMW) at MacDill AFB, FL (four aircraft) and several other installations, increasing the number of KC-135R aircraft assigned to the 6 AMW from twelve to sixteen aircraft . Concurrent with this BRAC decision, the 6 AMW would also host a Reserve association with the Air Mobility Command-gained 927th Air Refueling Wing (927 ARW) of the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC), the latter of which would be realigned and relocated from Selfridge ANGB, Michigan to MacDill AFB. Under the Reserve Associate arrangement, both the 6 AMW and the 927 ARW would share the same KC-135R aircraft, while the 927 ARW would turn over their KC-135R aircraft to the 127th Wing (127 WG) of the Michigan Air National Guard at Selfridge ANGB. The 927 ARW began relocation from Selfridge ANGB to MacDill AFB in 2007 and formally established itself at MacDill in April 2008.
Long range USAF plans in the 2015 defense budget called for MacDill AFB to add eight additional KC-135R aircraft to its extant sixteen KC-135Rs in FY2018. The 6 AMW would also increase manning by approximately 300 personnel. These additional KC-135R aircraft would come from other Air Force, Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard units transitioning to the KC-46A Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft and the timeline would be contingent on those other units completing their transition and achieving operational capability with the KC-46.
Until mid-2017, MacDill AFB also hosted the Aircraft Operations Center (AOC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Commissioned officers of the NOAA Corps and NOAA civil servants fly "Hurricane Hunter" missions in NOAA's WP-3D Orion and Gulfstream IV aircraft, as well as other research missions in these and other assigned fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.
With the anticipated increase in KC-135R aircraft and the need for additional maintenance hangar space, the Air Force informed NOAA in 2016 that they would no longer be able to host the NOAA Aircraft Operations Center, its aircraft, and the 110 NOAA personnel in Hangar 5 and its adjacent operations building at MacDill AFB. In May 2017, NOAA began relocation to a new facility at Lakeland Linder International Airport, northeast of MacDill AFB, completing same in June 2017.
MacDill historically hosted an annual air show and "open house" enjoyed by thousands of spectators each year. However, there were no shows in 2002 and 2003 due to security concerns following the attacks on the United States of 11 September 2001 and the initiation of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. The 2006 show was also canceled due to security concerns on base, but was reinstated in 2008. It was cancelled again in 2013 due to defense budget constraints, but was reinstated again in 2014 as a biennial event. AirFest 2016 was the first-ever airshow to feature a live webcast of the performers, including the headline act of the United States Air Force Thunderbirds.
The 6 ARW also has a collocated Air Force Reserve "Associate" wing at MacDill, the 927th Air Refueling Wing (927 ARW) of the Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC). The 6 ARW and the 927 ARW operate and share the same assigned KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft.
The 6 AMW's 3,000-person force organized into four groups, in addition to the wing commander's immediate staff.
Approximately 15,000 people work at MacDill Air Force Base, with a significant number of military personnel and their families living on base in military housing, while remaining service-members and military families live off base in the Tampa Bay area. MacDill AFB is a significant contributor to Tampa's economy and the city is very supportive of the military community. In 2001 and 2003, the Tampa Bay area was awarded the Abilene Trophy, which annually honors the most supportive Air Force city in Air Mobility Command.
The base has a large visitor lodging facility known as the MacDill Inn, a DECA commissary, an AAFES base exchange, and numerous Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) activities such as the Surf's Edge all ranks club, a base swimming pool, movie theater, marina, the Raccoon Creek Family Camp for recreational vehicles, the SeaScapes Beach House and the Bay Palms Golf Course.
In December 2021, the Air Force announced that the 6th Air Refueling Wing would re-equip with 24 of the new Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft in the coming years.
The 6 ARW consists of:
The 927 ARW is an associate unit of the 6th Air Refueling Wing of the Air Mobility Command (AMC), with both wings sharing and flying the same Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft, while ground support personnel augment their active duty counterparts in the 6 AMW. The 927 ARW is part of the 4th Air Force (4 AF) of Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC). If mobilized to active duty, the wing is operationally-gained by Air Mobility Command (AMC). The 927 ARW has approximately 1,000 personnel consisting of part-time Traditional Reservists (TR) and full-time Air Reserve Technicians (ART) and Active Guard and Reserve (AGR).
The 927 ARW is commanded by Colonel Douglas Stouffer and the wing's Command Chief Master Sergeant is CMSgt Michael Klausutis.
The 927 ARW consists of:
MacDill has 28 "mission partners" (tenant units) according to the official MacDill AFB website. Among these are:
Previously designated as Detachment 1 of the 23rd Wing (23 WG) until August 2014 and Det 1 of the 23d Fighter Group (23 FG) until August 2015, the 598 RANS is unique among MacDill AFB's tenant units in that it operates both (1) the Deployed Unit Complex (DUC) at MacDill AFB, providing a separate flight line facility and support infrastructure for detachments of USAF, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps (to include Reserve and Air National Guard) and NATO/Allied fighter, attack and special operations aircraft utilizing the nearby Avon Park Air Force Range (APAFR) facility, and (2) operates and maintains the entire 20,000 square mile APAFR facility approximately 65 miles east of MacDill AFB. An Air Combat Command (ACC) organization, the 598 RANS reports to the Commander, 23d Fighter Group, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
MacDill AFB also supports other Active Component and Reserve Component military activities and personnel of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Coast Guard in the West Central Florida/Tampa Bay Region, as well as the large military retiree community in the Tampa Bay area and surrounding environs.
Flying and notable non-flying units based at MacDill Air Force Base.
Units marked GSU are Geographically Separate Units, which although based at MacDill, are subordinate to a parent unit based at another location.
Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC)
Air Combat Command (ACC)
Air National Guard (ANG)
United States Marines
Defence Intelligence Agency
Department of Defense