Bagram Airfield also known as Bagram Air Base is the largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan. It is located next to the ancient city of Bagram, 6.8 miles southeast of Charikar in the Parwan Province of Afghanistan. The airfield features a dual runway capable of handling any size military aircraft, including Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy and Antonov An-225. The base is mainly occupied by Government contractors, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and minimally by the United States Armed Forces.
Bagram Airfield is currently maintained by the Combined Joint Task Force 10th Mountain Division (CJTF-10), having taken over from the 101st Airborne Division in the winter of 2013. It is also maintained by 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade (Task Force Pale Horse) and 3-10 GSAB (Task Force Phoenix) of the U.S. Army, with the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing of the U.S. Air Force and other U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and ISAF units having sizable tenant populations. In addition, the U.S. government regional platform for the east is at the base, staffed by civilians.
One of Bagram’s runways is 9,852 ft. long and the other is 11,500 ft long, which was built and completed by the United States in late 2006. There are a number of large hangars, a control tower, numerous support buildings, and various housing areas. There are also more than 32 acres (130,000 m²) of ramp space and five aircraft dispersal areas, with over 110 revetments. Many support buildings and base housing built by the Soviet Armed Forces during their occupation were destroyed by years of fighting between various warring Afghan factions after the Soviets left. New barracks and office buildings are being constructed at the present time, and the base is slowly expanding.
The airport at Bagram was originally built in the 1950s, during the Cold War, at a time when the United States and neighbouring Soviet Union were busy spreading influence in Afghanistan. While the United States was focusing on Afghanistan, the Soviets were busy with the Island of Cuba and Fidel Castro. In 1959, a year after Afghan Prime Minister Daud Khan toured the United States, U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower landed at Bagram where he was greeted by King Zahir Shah and Daoud Khan among other Afghan officials. The present runway, 10,000 foot long, was built in 1976. The airport at Bagram was maintained by the Afghan Air Force (AAF) with some support from the U.S.
During the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan, it played a key role, serving as a base of operations for troops and supplies. Bagram was also the initial staging point for the invading Soviet forces at the beginning of the conflict, with elements of two Soviet Airborne Troops’ divisions being deployed there. Aircraft based at Bagram, including the 368th Assault Aviation Regiment flying Su-25s, provided close air support for Soviet and Afghan troops in the field. The 368th Assault Aviation Regiment was stationed at Bagram from October 1986 to November 1987.
Control of the base was contested from 1999 onward between the Northern Alliance and Taliban, often with each controlling territory on opposing ends of the base. Taliban forces were consistently within artillery and mortar range of the field, denying full possession of the strategic facility to the Northern Alliance. Press reports indicated that at times a Northern Alliance general was using the bombed-out control tower as an observation post and as a location to brief journalists, with his headquarters nearby.
Reports also indicated that Northern Alliance rocket attacks on Kabul had been staged from Bagram, possibly with Russian-made FROG-7 Rockets. In 2000, the Taliban took over control and forced the Northern Alliance to retreat further to the north.
During the US-led invasion of Afghanistan the base was secured by a team from the British Special Boat Service. By early December 2001 troops from the 10th Mountain Division shared the base with Special Operations Command officers from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, and a small communications team of the 11th Signal Brigade out of Fort Huachuca. The British force consisted of B and C Companies from 40 Commando, Royal Marines. As of mid-December 2001 more than 300 US troops, mainly with the 10th Mountain Division, were providing force protection at Bagram. The troops patrolled the base perimeter, guarded the front gate, and cleared the runway of explosive ordnance. As of early January 2002 the number of 10th Mountain Division troops had grown to about 400 soldiers.
As of late January 2002, there were somewhat over 4,000 US troops in Afghanistan, of which about 3,000 were at Kandahar International Airport, and about 500 were stationed at Bagram. The runway began to be repaired by US, Italian and Polish military personnel. By mid-June 2002, Bagram Airfield was serving as home to more than 7,000 US and other armed services. Numerous tent areas house the troops based there, including one named Viper City. It was reported that “Bagram came under daily rocket attack” in 2002 even though most of these attacks went unreported by the press. Landmines have also been a serious concern in and around Bagram Airfield.
By late 2003 B-huts, 18-by-36-foot structures made of plywood designed to hold eight troops, were replacing the standard shelter option for troops. There were several hundred, with plans to build close to 800 of them. The plans were to have nearly 1,200 structures built by 2006, but completion of the project was expected much earlier; possibly by July 2004. The increased construction fell under US Central Command standards of temporary housing and allowed for the building of B-huts on base, not to show permanence, but to raise the standard for troops serving here. The wooden structures have no concrete foundation thus not considered permanent housing, just an upgrade from the tents, the only option Bagram personnel and troops had seen previously. The small homes offer troops protection from environmental conditions including wind, snow, sand and cold. During 2005, a USO facility was built and named after former pro football player and United States Army Ranger, Pat Tillman.
A second runway, 3,500 metres (11,500 ft) long, was built and completed by the United States in late 2006, at a cost of US$68 million. This new runway is 497 metres (1,631 ft) longer than the previous one and 280 millimetres (11 in) thicker, giving it the ability to land larger aircraft, such as the C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III or the Boeing 747 (which is used by Southern Air and Kalitta Air for regular cargo flights).
By 2007 Bagram has become the size of a small town, with traffic jams and many commercial shops selling goods from clothes to food. The base itself is situated high up in the mountains and sees temperatures drop to −29 °C (−20 °F). Due to the height and snow storms commercial aircraft have difficulty landing there, and older aircraft often rely on very experienced crews in order to be able to land there. The base was able to house 10,000 troops in 2009.
The 2007 Bagram Airfield bombing was a suicide attack that killed up to 23 people and injured 20 more, at a time when Dick Cheney, the vice-president of the United States, was visiting Afghanistan. The attack occurred inside one of the security gates surrounding the heavily guarded base. Yousef Ahmadi, one of the Taliban spokesmen, claimed responsibility for the attack and said Cheney was the target. Another Taliban spokesman later said that Osama Bin Laden planned the attack, and reiterated that Cheney was the intended target. This claim is supported by the relatively limited number of large suicide bombings carried out in Afghanistan, combined with the intensity of this attack, and the fact that Cheney was at the base. However, Cheney was unhurt in the attack. Among the dead were a US soldier, a US contractor, a South Korean soldier, and 20 Afghan workers at the base.
In March 2010, insurgents attacked an area at the base with rockets. One of the rockets landed next to a B-Hut in a camp located on the west side of the base killing a Bosnian national, who was working at Bagram as a contract firefighter.
In May 2010, a group of “nearly a dozen” insurgents attacked around the north end of the base. The assault left one U.S. contractor dead while nine service members were reported wounded. A spokesman for Bagram said a building was slightly damaged during attack. Taliban spokesman claimed 20 armed men wearing suicide vests attacked the base with four detonating explosives at the entrances, but the military spokesman said they failed “to breach the perimeter” and were “unable to detonate their suicide vests.” The attackers were dressed in U.S. Army uniforms.On June 19, 2013, the base was the subject of a mortar attack by Taliban forces, which resulted in four U.S. troops being killed and several others wounded.
The 455th Air Expeditionary Wing (455 AEW) is a provisional United States Air Force USAFCENT unit located to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. It is one of two AEWs in Afghanistan. Most of the wing personnel are located at the Air Force Village known as Camp Cunningham.
The wing’s primary mission is to support the Global War on Terrorism by providing aerial support for U.S. and Coalition forces on the ground. Activated in 2001, the 455th has members deployed throughout the country supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
The 455 AEW commander reports to the United States Air Forces Central (USAFCENT) Commander in Southwest Asia. The commander is supported by a wing staff and oversees five Air Force groups located at Bagram and one at Kandahar Airfield. The five groups are the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group, the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Group, the 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group, 455th Expeditionary Medical Group, and the 455th Expeditionary Base Defense Group. It also oversees the 451st Air Expeditionary Group at Kandahar Airfield.
As the the rubble of the Twin Towers were still smoldering in Manhattan, President George W Bush authorized Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, to hunt down and kill those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. By October 2001, U.S. and British servicemen began massing in Afghanistan, transiting through the massive Bagram Airbase in the north east of the country.
At the height of operations, it had a population of more than 40,000 and was the air base was the busiest military airport in the world, supporting more than 140,000 operations in a single year – including the Seal Team Six mission to kill Osama Bin Laden.
The number of NATO troops in the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan peaked at more than 130,000 in 2011 before a gradual withdrawal began the following year.
According to ISAF, there were around 58,000 troops at the start of 2014 compared with some 13,000 now largely engaged in training.
The United States retains a counter-terrorism force that hunts al Qaeda and other militant targets, along with its unmanned drone strikes and limited close air support for Afghan troops under guidelines issued by President Barack Obama allowing limited combat in 2015.
Mostly, though, the new mission named ‘Resolute Support’ is tasked with training, including building up systems like logistics, supply chains, planning and strategy for Afghan forces.
Afghanistan’s own security personnel are dying at a rate of about 100 per week, a level the U.S. military has described as unsustainable, and foreign forces are advising them on how to reduce the rising casualty rate.
By comparison, about 3,500 foreign soldiers have died in the Afghan war since 2001, including around 2,200 Americans.
Latest Hobbymaster Announcement 1/72nd scale HA4507 Hobbymaster Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle 98-0133 48th TFW RAF Lakenheath
Hobbymaster have announced their latest F-15E release as Douglas F-15E Strike Eagle sn. 98-0133 48th TFW RAF Lakenheath, complete with bomb markings from the Afghanistan campaign. Please click on the image and link below to go straight to the model to take a closer look.
From early indications this is proving to be a very popular subject matter… as expected ! Thank you to all those of you that have either already registered your interest in this model with Flying Tigers and also those that have already Pre-ordered it. It will go very nicely with the earlier Lakenheath F-15C release (HA4551) .
Which brings me nicely onto a Flying Tigers Special Offer for this weekend. For those of you that have not bought the HA4551 F-15C so far …it is on Special Offer at only £54.99 if ordered this weekend.
On top of this offer, if you Pre-Order the F-15E Strike Eagle HA4507 featured above, and also order at the same time HA4551 F-15C , then the price drops on HA4551 to only £44.99 ! For all the collectors that have already Pre-ordered the new F-15E Strike Eagle HA4507 and would like to have taken advantage of this offer… simply order HA4551 in the normal way and I will make the adjustment to the price when I dispatch your model. I have very limited stocks on this offer , so please don’t delay.
Corgi Aviation Archive Sale
Flying Tigers have been able to buy very limited stocks of the items below at a very Special Purchase Price. They will not last long and are priced to sell out ! Grab yourself a bargain while you have the chance. Please click on the images or links below to go straight to the model of your choice or alternatively please CLICK HERE to go to them all.
That’ s all for this week.
Thank you for taking time to read this week’s Newsletter.