The complete Kirtland Air Force Base guide

Jessica Evans
Updated onDec 12, 2022 11:45 PM PST
6 minute read
Kirtland Air Force Base Thunderbirds

The U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron “Thunderbirds” perfrom at the 2019 Kirtland Air & Space Fiesta at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, May 17, 2019. Since 1953, the Thunderbirds team has served as America’s premier air demonstration squadron, entrusted with the vital mission to recruit, retain and inspire past, present and future Airmen. (U.S. Air Force Photo/SSgt Cory W. Bush)


Ready to call Albuquerque home? If you’re PCSing to the Land of Enchantment and have questions about Kirtland AFB lodging…

Ready to call Albuquerque home? If you’re PCSing to the Land of Enchantment and have questions about Kirtland AFB lodging or housing, this guide is for you. Kirtland was named for an early Army aviator - Col. Roy Kirtland. Since the military and the nearby international airport use the same runways, Kirtland is one of those rare birds that’s a joint civilian-military airport.

In fact, Kirtland is the largest Air Force Global Strike Command installation. Additionally, it’s the sixth largest USAF base. The installation employs over 23,000 people. That includes more than 4,000 active duty Airmen, over 3,000 Reservists, and nearly 1,000 Air National Guardsmen. Kirtland is also home to the AF Materiel Command’s NWC (Nuclear Weapons Center). NWC is responsible for keeping the DOD’s and Department of Energy’s nukes modern and sustained. Speaking of nuclear weapons, here are the top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world. So, if you’re looking for info about Kirtland AFB jobs or the Exchange phone number, look no further. This guide has it all!

Sunrise over the flight line on Kirtland Air Force Base, Albuquerque New Mexico. (Photo by Senior Airman Ian Beckley)

Kirtland Air Force Base Location

Kirtland Air Force Base is located in the southeast section of Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Kirtland AFB can be reached by car using the following routes.

Heading in from the north? Take I-25 S, follow signs for Kirtland AFB

Driving from the south? Take I-25 N, follow signs for Kirtland AFB

Making the trek from the east? Take I-40 W, follow signs for Kirtland AFB

Coming from the west? Take I-40 E, follow signs for Kirtland AFB


Flying to the closest airports: Albuquerque International Sunport

Albuquerque International Sunport (10.1 miles) is served by most of the major airlines and flies to and from multiple destinations.

Driving: Of course, having a car would be ideal. That way you could easily travel around the city of Albuquerque and visit other parts of New Mexico. Albuquerque is centrally located within the state but will be a long drive from the east coast.

Maj. Matt Kimmel, U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron Thunderbirds’ lead solo, greets patrons of the Kirtland Air and Space Fiesta at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., May 18, 2019. The Air Show featured a series of aeronautical and ground-based performances, and a STEM and space exhibition. The Fiesta was capped off by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Early estimates put the crowed at more than 35,000. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

Contacts at Kirtland AFB

Airman & Family Readiness Program: (505) 846-0741

Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment: (505) 846-3305

Chapel: (505) 853-5000

Chaplain: (505) 846-5691

Civilian Personnel Office: (505) 846-9556

Command Post: (505) 846-3777

Domestic Abuse Victim Advocate: 505-445-7100

Dorm Manager: (505) 853-5479

Equal Opportunity Office: (505) 846-5369

Family Advocacy Program: (505) 846-0139

Health & Wellness Center: (505) 846-1186

Housing Office: (505) 846-8217

ID/CAC Card Processing: (505) 846-5459

Information & Referral Services: (505) 846-0741

Inspector General: (505) 846-2411

Legal Assistance: (505) 846-4217

Medical Appointments: (505) 846-3200

Mental Health Clinic: (505) 846-3305

Military Family Life Counselors: (505) 280-0664

New Mexico Public Education Department Home School Office: (505) 827-6909

Public Affairs Office: (505) 846-5991

School Liaison Office: (505) 846-6477

Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Coordinator: (505) 846-7272

Special Needs Coordinator: (505) 846-3244

Veterinary Appointments: (505) 846-4276

Visitors Center: (505) 846-7240

Major General Fred Stoss, 20th Air Force commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Good, 20th Air Force command chief, pose for a photo with the current class at the School of Advanced Nuclear Deterrence Studies at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Feb. 14, 2018. This was Stoss’ first visit to Kirtland as the 20th AF commander since taking command of the numbered air force on Jan. 26, 2018. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Chandler Baker)

Mission and Units 

The missions of Kirtland Air Force Base fall into four major categories. These include research, development, and testing alongside readiness and training. Kirtland AFB is also mission driven to maintain munitions and support to base operations for more than 25 major mission partners.

The two most important units at Kirtland AFB are the 377th Air Base Wing and the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, established in 2006. The 377th Air Base Wing was activated in 1993. Some other units on site include the 498th Nuclear Systems Wing, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and the Operationally Responsive Space. There are also around 25 mission partners who are located in some capacity on base.

The 377th Air Base Wing is the host unit at Kirtland AFB. It was activated on January 1, 1993, when Air Force Materiel Command assumed responsibility for operating the base from Air Mobility Command. Currently, the wing's mission is to conduct nuclear operations, organize, train, equip and deploy expeditionary forces, and operate, secure and support Kirtland AFB.

The Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center of Excellence was established on March 31, 2006. Airmen stationed at Kirtland aid in ensuring safe, secure, and reliable nuclear weapons are available to support the National Command Structure and Air Force. The AFNWC's responsibilities include the acquisition, modernization, and sustainment of nuclear system programs for both the Departments of Defense and Energy.

AFRL LASER Research being conducted at Kirtland Air Force Base.

Kirtland AFB History

The history of this base dates back to 1939, when some land was leased close to Albuquerque, next to the already existing airport, as a training facility for the military troops.

Over 5000 bombardiers were trained at Kirtland AFB during World War II for planes like the B-29, B-17, and B-24. After World War II ended, the base went under the jurisdiction of the Air Materiel Command in order to modify the existing aircraft to support various weapons, including nuclear armament.

In 1950, a plane with 13 service members and several nuclear weapons crashed close to the base. The fire was visible for over 20 km. Fortunately, the nuclear weapons didn’t detonate.

Compared to other bases, Kirtland outshines them all. In fact, it's now the third largest installation in the Air Force Material Command (AFMC). The base occupies over 52,000 acres, so it's pretty massive.

Col. Roy C. Kirtland, for whom Kirtland Field (later Kirtland Air Force Base) was named. U.S. Air Force photo.

Things to Do Around Kirtland AFB


Hilton Garden Inn Albuquerque Uptown (9.6 miles)

Marriott Albuquerque (9.5 miles)

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Albuquerque Midtown (12.2 miles)


Sadie’s of New Mexico (8.8 miles) - New Mexican cuisine and housemade salsas

Paisano’s Italian Restaurant (10.4 miles) - From-scratch pasta

Pho Linh Vietnamese Grill (8.6 miles) - Vietnamese, Noodles, Pho

A patron watches an act of the Kirtland Air and Space Fiesta at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., May 18, 2019. The Air Show featured a series of aeronautical and ground-based performances, and a STEM and space exhibition. The Fiesta was capped off by the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Early estimates put the crowed at more than 35,000. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)


The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History (7.4 miles) is at the northeast corner of Kirtland AFB and is a great place to get a history of nuclear technology.

Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum (20.9 miles) has exhibits, classes, and programs that showcase the science and art of ballooning and balloonists. It’s also located next to the grounds of the annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

Cibola National Forest (147 miles) has 1.6 million acres of land with multiple campgrounds, hiking trails, and climbing areas.

Family of Senior Airman Jason D. Cunningham unveiled his plaque during a dorm memorialization ceremony at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. Senior Airman Cunningham is a New Mexico native and was a pararescueman who was posthumously awarded the Air Force Cross for his valor and sacrifice during the Battle of Takur Ghar (Battle of Roberts Ridge) Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. June 14, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jeremy T. Dyer.)

Kirtland AFB Housing

Like with all PCSing, the first thing you should do is contact your gaining installation’s Military Housing Office! The MHO can assist you in making the best choice for Kirtland AFB housing.

Unaccompanied housing is offered for unaccompanied Airmen in the ranks of E-1 to E-3 and E-4 with less than 3 years of service. Each Airman is provided a private sleeping room, furnishings, bed linens and supplies required for comfortable living. Unaccompanied Airmen in the rank of E-4 with greater than 3 years of service and above can live in the local community.

Hunt Communities offers two, three, and four bedroom single family homes and duplexes on base. 

You also have the option of seeking housing in the local economy. The MHO office can provide more information regarding the Albuquerque rental/purchasing market. 

Schools Near Kirtland AFB

Mil families with kids will be happy to learn that Kirtland offers two elementary schools on base! Wherry Elementary and Sandia Base Elementary serve the needs of the installation. Non-elementary aged students attend Albuquerque public schools. Homeschooling is also available for parents. Call the New Mexico Public Education Department Homeschool office for more information. 

U.S. Air Force Airman Jade Mitchko, 377th Maintenance Squadron munitions specialist, replaces ammunition in an ammunition canister at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Aug. 24, 2021. Some of Mitchko’s daily duties include maintaining munitions in storage and inspecting ammunition to ensure the safety and mission readiness of Team Kirtland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Karissa Dick)

Frequently Asked Questions

What county is Kirtland AFB in?

Kirtland AFB is in Bernalillo County.

Can civilians live in Kirtland AFB and Albuquerque?

There are about 564,559 people in Albuquerque, and Kirtland AFB employs about 22,000 people.

Does Kirtland AFB have nuclear weapons?

Yes, Kirtland AFB is the home of the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, so nuclear weapons are on base. Speaking of nukes, check out this list of the top 9 deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world.

Is the public allowed on Kirtland AFB?

Yes, with access approval, you can visit Kirtland AFB.


Sign up for We Are The Mighty's newsletter and receive the mighty updates!

By signing up you agree to our We Are The Mighty's Terms of Use and We Are The Mighty's Privacy Policy.