TUTOR ET ULTOR – “Protector and Defender” Holloman AFB

1 F-22A_05-4106_HO_3-2009

The base was founded as Alamogordo Army Air Field on 10th of June 1942 as a training field for much needed pilots in the USAAF. On 13th January 1948, the base was renamed to honor Colonel George V. Holloman, a rocket scientist from North Carolina, to Holloman Air Force Base. The base has three runways, which shape a triangle (typical for training bases), all have a length between 3.2 and 3.9 km. Due to the local weather, this is an ideal place for training pilots.

Holloman AFB and its parent wing, the 49th Fighter Wing, has always seen the most modern fighters based there, from the Phantom II and F-15, to the F-117 stealth fighter and finally the F-22, of which were transfered to the 325th FW at Tyndall AFB, FL recently.

The 49th FW belongs to the 12th Air Force and was reshaped into a training wing for UAV pilots. The Wing is now the largest for training on the MQ-1 Predator and the MQ-9 Predator. Presently, more and more F-16s are stationed at Holloman AFB to make the best use of the base and its advantages. These F-16s come from the 311th FS and 314th FS, belonging to the 54th FG, which reports to the 56th FW at Luke AFB.

However, the 56th FW will be the main unit to educate and train pilots on the F-35A Lightning II. If the F-16s remain at Holloman AFB, it remains to be seen if they’ll form a wing of their own.

The following flying units of the USAF are based at Holloman AFB: 49th Fighter Wing

The 49th Operations Group supports training of MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper pilots and sensor operators with the following units:

  • 49th Operations Support Squadron
  • 6th Reconnaissance Squadron(MQ-1)
  • 9th Attack Squadron (MQ-9)
  • 16th Training Squadron (MQ-9)
  • 29th Attack Squadron (MQ-9)

96th Test Group

Along with the 49th FW, the 96th Test Group , part of the 96th Test Wing from Eglin Air Force Base, Florida is based at Holloman. The 96th TG is an Air Force Materiel Command unit responsible for operational testing and evaluation of new equipment and systems proposed for use by these forces. Current initiatives include advanced self-protection systems for combat aircraft, aircrew life support systems, aerial reconnaissance improvements, new armament and weapons delivery systems, and improved maintenance equipment and logistics support.

Squadrons of the group are:

  • 586th Flight Test Squadron – Conducts flight testing
  • 746th Test Squadron – Conducts Guidance/Navigational testing to include Internal Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
  • 781st Test Squadron – National RCS Test Facility
  • 846th Test Squadron – Rocket Sled Tests

Aircraft of the 96th Test Group carry the tail code “HT”.

54th Fighter Group

In March 2014 the 54th Fighter Group was reactivated at Holloman AFB, NM with a mission to train F-16 aircrew members and aircraft maintenance personnel. The 54th Fighter Group is a geographically separated unit of the 56th Fighter Wing, out of Luke AFB, Arizona.


Operational Squadrons

  • 311th Fighter Squadron, 1 March 2014 – present[3]
  • 314th Fighter Squadron, 14 July 2015 – present[3]

Support Units

  • 54th Operations Support Squadron (OSS), 1 March 2014 – Present
  • 54th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS), 1 March 2014 – Present
  • 54th Maintenance Squadron (MS), March 2014 – Present

82nd Aerial Targets Squadron (Detachment 1)

The 82nd Aerial Target Squadron at Tyndall and Holloman AFB (Detachment 1) operates the Department of Defense’s only full-scale aerial target program, maintaining an inventory of 50 modified QF-4 Phantom II aircraft for this purpose. The squadron participates in the Air Force Heritage Flight Program with the venerable Phantom. Detachment 1, 82 ATRS, Holloman AFB, New Mexico, operates and maintains a portion of the QF-4 full-scale aerial target fleet for use on the White Sands Missile Range. In addition to Air Force programs such as the F-22, AMRAAM, AIM-9X, and F-35 the detachment also supports Army surface-to-air programs and foreign military customers as well.

The following aircraft were based at Holloman Air Force Base:

P (later F) -51 Mustang, 1948-1950
F-61 Black Widow, 1948-1949
F-80C Shooting Star, 1948-1951
F-82 Twin Mustang 1950
RF-80 Shooting Star, von 1950 bis 1951
F / RF-51 Mustang, 1950-1951
RB-26 Invader, 1950-1951
F-84G Thunderjet, 1951-1953, 1953, 1957
F-86 Sabre, 1951, 1954-1957
F-100 Super Sabre, 1957-1962
F-105 Thunderchief, von 1961 bis 1967
F-4 Phantom II, 1967-1971, 1971-1978, 1992-2004
Talon T-38, 1973-1976, 1993-Present
F-15A / B Eagle, 1977-1992
AT-38 Talon, 1977-1997
F-117A Nighthawk, 1992-2008
HH-60 Pave Hawk, 1993-1999
F-22A Raptor, 2008-2014
MQ-1 Predator, 2009-Present
MQ-9 Reaper, 2009-Present [1]
F-16C / D Fighting Falcon 2014-Present

German Air Force Training in Holloman

After the closure of George Air Force Base in Southern California, the training for the pilots of the German Air Force moved to Holloman Air Force Base. The Germans arrived in 1992 with F-4Es, which were obtained especially for training, they were later replaced by F-4Fs from Germany. Since 1996 there have been Panavia Tornados based in Holloman AFBtoo.

On 1st of March 1995, the then Commander of the German Air Force Training Command USA/Canada, Brigade General Adam announced that in 1996 the German Air Force will introduce its own part at Holloman Air Force Base and that the based fighter aircraft will carry the national insignias. Adding to that, the German Air Force can fly under its own air control and their own rules. The Holloman-based Tornados are carrying German markings while the Phantoms flew with United States Air Force markings, until they were withdrawn from use.

With the reduction of the Tornado fleet and the the resulting decrease of required flight hours of the training center, there have been plans since 2011 to relocate some of the Eurofighter training from Laage Air Base to Holloman AFB. However, in 2015, it was decided to re-enhance the Tactical Air Force Group in Wittmund to a full Wing and conduct the training in Germany. So with the phase-out of the Tornado, the training of pilots in the US will probably come to an end. Actually, in September 2015, modernized Tornados with the AASTA3 upgrade were flown to Holloman AFB to have the latest version of the weapon system on hand to maintain the weapons teachers’ training at the highest level.

The pictures of the F-4s, F-117s, QF-4s are slides from the years 1993 – 2008, all pictures were done with the great support of the Holloman PAO and David. This report wouldn’t be possible without your support.

Peter Boschert

Peter is a photographer covering events in the United States and in Europe. He likes to cover Nellis AFB, NAS Fallon and RAF Lakenheath.

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