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18th Air Force

Definition/Scope: Eighteenth Air Force, headquartered at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., was reactivated Oct. 1, 2003, as the war fighting component of Air Mobility Command. Eighteenth Air Force’s mission is to command assigned forces, present air mobility forces (airlift and air refueling) and support forces to combatant commanders through U.S. Transportation Command, and act as the Commander, Air Force Forces (COMAFFOR), and Joint Force Air Component Commander (JFACC), when so designated. Eighteenth Air Force’s mobility aircraft include the C-5 Galaxy, KC-10 Extender, C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, and KC-135 Stratotanker. Operational support aircraft are the VC-25 (Air Force One), C-9, C-20, C-32, C-37, C-40, and UH-1. Eighteenth Air Force has an assigned military and civilian workforce of more than 54,000 people. Eighteenth Air Force, commanded by a three-star general, is charged with tasking and executing all air mobility missions. Units reporting to 18th Air Force include all Air Mobility Command wings and groups based in the continental United States, as well as two expeditionary mobility task forces--the 15th EMTF at Travis AFB, Calif. and the 21st EMTF at McGuire AFB, N.J. The 618th Tanker Airlift Control Center, located at Scott AFB, also reports to 18th Air Force and serves as the organization’s air operations hub, planning and directing tanker and transport aircraft operations around the world. The 15th and 21st EMTFs serve as lead agencies for conducting mobility operations worldwide, which are critical to the execution phase of war fighting, providing worldwide expeditionary mobility support. Organized on March 28, 1951, at Donaldson AFB, S.C., and assigned to Tactical Air Command, the primary mission of the 18th Air Force (Troop Carrier), was the training of troop carrier crews. Immediately after activation, it began to provide trained troop carrier crews and other personnel for the Korean War. Redesignated as 18th Air Force on June 26, 1951, it quickly became involved with numerous activities including troop movements in the continental United States, Defense Early Warning (DEW) line operations in numerous allied nations, and support of US efforts at the South Pole in Antarctica. During this period, there were 16 troop carrier wings assigned to 18th Air Force flying C-45, C-46, C-47, C-54, C-82, C-119, C-122, C-124 and C-130 aircraft. Additionally, some wings flew H-19 and H-21 helicopters as well as the L-5, L-16, and L-20. As part of the implementation of the Single Manager Airlift Service concept for the Air force, 18th Air Force moved on Sept.1, 1957, to Waco, Texas, transferred its troop carrying aircraft to the Military Air Transport Service (MATS) and received other combat units as it assumed command responsibilities for all TAC bases and organizations in the south central and western states. During the short time 18th Air Force was in Waco, assigned wings flew KB-29, KB-50, F-84, F-100 and F-101 aircraft. Eighteenth Air Force had hardly settled into its new home and mission when it was inactivated. On Jan. 1, 1958, 18th Air Force was inactivated and all personnel and equipment were transferred in place to the newly reactivated 12th Air Force.



Acronym For:

Eighteenth Air Force

Broader Terms:

Air Mobility Command

Narrower Terms:

aerial refueling
C-130 Hercules
C-20 Gulfstream III
C-5 Galaxy
C-9 Nightingale
KC-10A Extender
KC-135 Stratotanker
UH-1 Huey
VC-25A Air Force One

Related Terms:

Joint Force Air Component Commander
US Transportation Command, Combatant Command, Unified


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