Military Life Resources Base Guides

The complete guide to Air Force bases

Jessica Evans Avatar
tinker air force base

An F35 Lightning sits on the runway at Tinker AFB after performing an aerial routine for more than 180,000 fans.

Wondering about Air Force bases in Texas? Or you may have questions about Joint Base San Antonio. The truth is that the U.S. Air Force is all over the world. From Florida to California, the U.K. to Germany, America’s aircraft stretch as far and wide as the skies. Read on to find out more about Air force bases. 

Air Force Bases in Colorado

Colorado is home to several Air Force installations. These include the Air Force Academy, Peterson Air Force Base, and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base. Cheyenne is one of the most heavily guarded DoD installations in the world. That’s because it’s an intel and data collection site, so it needs to keep everything safe and buttoned up. Some parts of the installation are open to the public. However, as you might expect, a lot of it is closed and classified. What’s so secret about it? Here’s why the installation is inside the mountain.

Colorado is also home to Schriever AFB. Schriever is relatively young. Construction on the base started in the 1980s, making it one of the youngest DoD installations in the world. The base’s host wing is the 50th Space Wing. The 50th is responsible for the observation and maintenance of almost 200 satellites. Collectively, the Airmen of the 50th work to deliver precise navigation and secure satellite communications in America and abroad. You’ll also find many tenant organizations like the 21st Medical Group, the 50th Space Wing, and the 310th Space Wing. 

schriever air force base airmen
Runners take off from the starting line launching the 10K race of the 2019 Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Sept. 21 2019. Five Schriever Airmen participated in the half and full marathon events. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo by Wesley Farnsworth)

Air Force Bases in Florida

Eglin Air Force Base

This remote Air Force installation is located in Okaloosa County in northwest Florida. It’s somewhat isolated, so plan ahead well. The base stretches more than 600 square miles. Eglin Air Force Base is responsible for developing and acquiring all air-delivered non-nuclear weapons. These weapons are also tested at the base for deployment function and sustainability. The host unit at Eglin is the 96th Test Wing. Formerly known as the 96th Air Base Wing, the 96th TW is the test and evaluation center for all Air Force air-delivered weapons, navigation and guidance systems, and command and control systems. At Eglin, the 96th T.W.T.W. also tests all Air Force Special Operations Command systems. Other notable major units include the 33rd Fighter Wing and the 919th Special Operations Wing. You’ll also find the 20th Space Control Squadron and the 6th Ranger Training Battalion.

Air Force Bases in Texas

Fort Sam Houston

Way back in 1845, the Army established a garrison at San Antonio. About 25 years later, the Army started construction on the Quadrangle. Garrison was moved to the site a few years later. In 1890, Ft. Sam Houston was officially named for Gen. Sam Houston. Houston was the hero of the battle of San Jacinto and the first president of the Republic of Texas in 1890.

Ft. Sam is massive and plays a vital role in the nation’s defense. It’s also home to some of the oldest structures on any Army post. These days, nearly 40,000 active duty and DoD civilians call Ft. Sam home. There are also almost 50,000 family members and over 75,000 retirees in and around the installation. Fort Sam Houston is unique among Army posts as it is a major, active military installation that plays a vital role in the nation’s defense. It contains some of the oldest structures on any Army installation.

Lackland Air Force Base

Lackland Air Force Base is located in San Antonio, Texas. It is a part of Joint Base San Antonio, which includes Army Fort Sam Houston and Randolph Air Force Base. It is the only entry processing station for Air Force enlisted Basic Military Training (BMT). Lackland is currently under the authority of the 802nd Mission Support Group, Air Education and Training Command, commonly known as the AETC.

Lackland Air Force Base is home to the 37th Training Wing (37 TRW), which operates a variety of training squadrons. Within the 37th TRW is the 37th Training Group (37 TRG) which oversees the 5 technical training schools on the base, and the 737 TRG, which supervises the Basic Military Training squadrons.

lackland air force base
A Texas Air National Guard F-16 takes off from a runway at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland to conduct routine training operations March 13, 2013, at JBSA-Lackland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske) (released)

Air Force Bases in California

Edwards Air Force Base

Located in the western portion of the Mojave Desert, Edwards Air Force Base is about 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The installation stretches over 300,000 acres. Edwards Air Force Base in California is the Air Force Materiel Command center of excellence. This is the Air Force’s central location to conduct and support research and development. Aerospace systems are also developed and tested. The installation also operates the Test Pilot School, and it’s home to NASA’s Dryden Research Center. This is the second-largest base in the Air Force, so expect a robust and vibrant military community both on and off the base. Because of the wide-open spaces, Edwards is the ideal location for its mission – to test Air Force tech. 

Travis Air Force Base

Travis AFB is located in Northern California, 3 miles east of Fairfield and about halfway between San Francisco and Sacramento (about 60 miles northeast of San Francisco and 43 miles southwest of Sacramento). The base’s mission is simple – to rapidly project American power anytime, anywhere. 

There are three most notable units at Travis Air Force Base and multiple partner organizations. Travis AFB is also home to the United States Air Force Band of the Golden West, the only active Air Force Band west of the Rockies. 

The host unit at Travis AFB, the 60th Air Mobility Wing, is the largest air mobility organization in terms of personnel in the Air Force. It has a versatile all-jet fleet of C-5M Super Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft, and KC-10 Extender refueling aircraft. The 60th AMW is responsible for strategic airlift and air refueling missions circling the globe. 

Nevada AFBs

Luke Air Force Base

Luke Air Force Base is named for the “Arizona Balloon Buster,” 2nd Lt. Frank Luke. Luke is a posthumous Medal of Honor recipient and the number two United States ace in World War I. He scored 18 aerial victories during WWI. Fourteen of those victories were against German observation balloons, hence his nickname. Lt. Luke was shot down at Murvaux between Verdun and Stenay, France, in September 1918. That’s after he destroyed three enemy balloons. Luke survived the crash and killed several German soldiers before he was killed. 

Luke Field was the largest training base in the Army Air Force during WWII. It graduated more than 12,000 fighter pilots and was nicknamed “Home of the Fighter Pilot.” 

Unlike other installations, Luke remained active after WWII. At the end of the Cold War, the 58th Tactical Training Wing was redesignated as the 58th Fighter Wing. All operational fighter training squadrons were reassigned to the new 58th Operations Group. In 1994, after 24 years at Luke AFB, the 58th F.W.F.W. was replaced by the 56th Fighter Wing as part of BRAC and as a response to the Air Force Heritage Program. 

Nellis Air Force Base

Nellis AFB has been around for a while, and in response, the North Las Vegas residential community keeps growing. In fact, NLV is home to the 5th largest school district in the United States. When you call Nellis home, you’ll quickly discover that it’s not all slot machines and roulette tables. There’s a vibrant, homestyle community waiting to be found at Nellis and surrounding areas. 

The installation is over 14,000 acres and the total land, including restricted ranges, is about 5,000 square miles. There’s also an additional 7,000 miles of airspace north and east of the restricted ranges that are also available for military flight operations.

nellis air force base
A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) F-35A taxis out for a routine training mission at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, May 17, 2022. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Welch)

Other Notable Air Force Bases

Air Force Joint Base Andrews

JB Andrews is located in Prince George’s County, Maryland. It’s about 10 miles outside Washington, D.C., and about 15 miles from Virginia. The 11th Wing is the host wing at JB Andrews. This Wing is responsible for providing security, personnel, contracting, finance, and infrastructure support for six additional wings and over 50 tenants. But that’s not all. The 11th Wing is also responsible for contingency ops in D.C. and can provide immediate response rotary assets. Translation: This Wing can get the essential people out of the capital when necessary.

It’s also responsible for ceremonial support for the Air Force Band, the Honor Guard, and the Air Force Arlington Chaplaincy. Major tenants include 89th Airlift Wing, the 79th Medical Wing, the 113th Wing (D.C. Air National Guard), and the 459th Air Refueling Wing (Air Force Reserve Command). Additionally, the 457th Airlift Squadron, the 744th Communications Squadron, and the 844th Communications Group are all embedded on the installation. 

Scott Air Force Base

Located in St. Clair County, Illinois, Scott Air Force Base is much closer to St. Louis than Chicago. But having two major cities within reasonable distance means you’ll never run out of day-trip destinations. Scott AFB was one of several Air Service training camps established after America entered WWI. The installation has seen it all. Likewise, that means Scoot AFB housing has been around for a while. These days, it’s the headquarters of Air Mobility Command and the U.S.U.S. Transportation Command. 

The primary mission of Scott Air Force Base is global mobility. The base provides command and control for all logistics of the United States military in air, over land, and across the sea. The installation is responsible for providing United States aeromedical evacuation capabilities, flying C-21 operational support airlift, and operating air refueling missions in the KC-135. Scott Air Force Base supplies forces to theater combatant commanders.

Tinker Air Force Base

Tinker Air Force Base and the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Center are located in the “Heart of Oklahoma,” Oklahoma City (Oklahoma County), just five miles from downtown Oklahoma City (OKC). The mission of Tinker AFB and the Air Force Sustainment Center is to Sustain Weapon System Readiness to “Generate Airpower for America.”

Tinker’s largest organization is the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex. It provides depot maintenance on the C/KC-135, B-1B, B-52, and E-3 aircraft, expanded phase maintenance on the Navy E-6 aircraft, and maintenance, repair, and overhaul of F100, F108, F110, F118, F119, and TF33 engines for the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard, Navy, and foreign military sales.

The 72nd Air Base Wing provides base installation and support services for the headquarters, Air Force Sustainment Center, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, and 44 associate units assigned to six major commands, including the largest flying Wing in Air Combat Command, the Navy’s Strategic Communications Wing One and several defense agencies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Air Force’s biggest base?

The biggest AFB is located in Ramstein, Germany. If you’re PCSing to Ramstein, consider yourself lucky!

Can you pick your base in the Air Force?

Your duty station is dependent on your job function and the needs of the Air Force.

How many Air Force bases are in the USA?

Currently, there are 57 active-duty Air Force installations in the country. 

How long is an Air Force contract?

The typical length is four years. Interested in an Air Force career? Speak with a recruiter today!