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384th Air Expeditionary Wing
USAF - 384th Air Expeditionary Wing.png
384th Air Expeditionary Wing emblem
Active 1942–2004
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Role Aerial Refueling
Part of CENTAF/9th Air Force
Garrison/HQ Shaikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain
Motto(s) Keep the Show on the Road
Charles T. Robertson, Jr.

A KC-135 Stratotanker leads a formation of an F-15 Strike Eagle, two F-16 Fighting Falcons and two British GR4 Tornados

The 384th Air Expeditionary Wing (384 AEw) is an inactive unit of the United States Air Force. Its last assignment was with to the United States Central Command Air Forces, being stationed at Shaikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain. It was inactivated in 2004.

The wing's mission is largely undisclosed; however, it is known that one of its missions was aerial refueling of combat aircraft.


For additional history and lineage, see 384th Air Expeditionary Group

Cold War

Emblem of the 384th Bombardment Wing

384th Bomb Wing B-47 landing at Little Rock AFB, Arkansas

The 384th Bombardment Wing of the United States Air Force Strategic Air Command was established at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas on 1 August 1955. With its establishment, the 384th Bomb Group was activated as the operational group of the wing, bestowing its World War II honors, heritage and colors to the new Wing. Operational squadrons of the wing were the 544th, 545th, and 546th Bomb Squadrons. It was equipped with the Boeing B-47E Stratojet.

The 384 BW accomplished a truly remarkable feat by being certified combat ready just nine months after receiving its first aircraft. Stringent SAC requirements called for a specified percentage of the crews to be certified in order for the wing to be considered combat ready. Since aircrew members were fresh out of student status, beginning to arrive about the same times the aircraft did, preparing the group to become fully combat ready was a tremendous task. The culture of the organization would accept nothing less than full effort, and when the newly formed wing was mission capable by September 1956, it became the first such SAC wing to do so in such a short time.

The 384 BW handled bomber alert duties, spending countless days and nights on alert status with their aircraft armed, fueled, and ready to go at a moment’s notice. 384th aircrews also commonly participated in REFLEX operations, spending short but continually recurring periods of time at forward locations around the world.

The era of the Stratojet ended on 1 September 1964 when the 384 BW inactivated with the phaseout of the B-47 from the USAF inventory.

Aerial refueling

Emblem of the 384th Air Refueling Wing

In flight refueling of F-4C-20-MC (S/N 63-7650) (closest aircraft) with KC-135 (Tail No. 00368).

The 384th was reactivated on 1 December 1972 as the 384th Air Refueling Wing, Heavy at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas with Boeing KC-135A Stratotankers and took command of the 91st Air Refueling Squadron (ARS). It was assigned to the 12th Strategic Missile Division, Fifteenth Air Force, Strategic Air Command.

From McConnell, the wing deployed aircraft and crews on a worldwide basis, engaging in actual and simulated tactical and strategic operations, including air refueling support for the evacuation of South Vietnamese and Americans from South Vietnam in 1975. The wing maintained proficiency in air refueling in support of SAC units and other units as directed.

The wing was reassigned to Second Air Force, 19th Air Division on 1 July 1973. On 30 September 1973, a second KC-135A refueling squadron, the 384th ARS was activated on the base, making McConnell an air refueling hub for SAC. The wing was again reassigned to Eighth Air Force, 19th Air Division on 1 January 1975.

In early 1983, the 384 ARW's leadership learned that it would be the first wing to receive the new Boeing KC-135R model tanker. The 91st and 384th ARW were both upgraded to the new model in 1984. The "R" model had upgraded engines which produce much greater fuel efficiency than the older models, as well as having a higher on-board fuel storage capacity. The initial aircraft marking for both squadrons was a light blue/navy blue diamond checkerboard fin flash.

B-1B era

B-1 era emblem of the 384th Bombardment Wing

B-1B of the 28th Bomb Squadron

On 2 October 1981, President Ronald Reagan announced a Strategic Modernization Program (SMP), a key feature of which would be the procurement of 100 North American–Rockwell B-1B bombers. The first production models entered the USAF inventory in March 1985. It was announced by the Air Force that McConnell would be equipped with the B-1B in 1987. The 384th was redesigated as the 384th Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 1 July 1987, and the 28th Bombardment Squadron was activated that date to fly the 25 bombers assigned to the wing. Aircrews for the initial cadre that formed the 28th BMS arrived for training at Dyess AFB, TX in October 1987, with the first crews arriving for duty at McConnell AFB, KS in March - June 1988. With the arrival of the B-1s, the 91st ARS was inactivated, leaving the wing with one KC-135 tanker squadron. The 91st was later reactivated in July 1988 with the new 301st ARW at Malmstrom AFB, Montana with KC-135R aircraft.

Throughout 1988-1989, the Wing continued to train to the full capabilities of the B-1B Bomber. The big push through 1989 was certifying all bomber crews in night terrain-following (TF) flying and for the Wing to become Mission Ready to perform its SIOP mission. These efforts paid-off with the 384 Bomb Wing winning the "BEST ORI IN SAC" award for 1989. In addition, that year, the Wing achieved the "BEST B-1B CREW" while performing in the 15th Air Force Bombing Competition. In 1990, the Bomb Wing again won top honors in SAC. That year it recorded the highest score during an ORI by any Bomb Wing in the history of SAC and its B-1B crews were rated OUTSTANDING in war fighting capability.

In August 1990, Iraq invaded neighboring Kuwait. McConnell tanker personnel and aircraft were deployed throughout the Middle East, performing refueling missions of Coalition aircraft in support of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm to help eject the invaders from the small kingdom of Kuwait. The wing's B-1B aircraft, however, were not used in Desert Storm, the official reason being that the B-1Bs were all needed to stand nuclear alert - which they did. However, at that time the B-1B had been encountering a rash of turbofan blade failures that caused the aircraft to be grounded through most of Desert Storm. At the same time, required weapons testing for the safe release of conventional bomb delivery had encountered test problems, and the aircraft was not certified to drop conventional weapons until after the war ended.

Modern era

With the end of the Cold War, the Air Force went though many changes. One of these changes was the Objective Wing concept, with created "Operation Groups" (OG) to place all operational aircraft squadrons under one organization. The 384th engaged this change on 1 September 1991 and was redesignated simply as the 384th Wing, with the 28th Bomb Squadron (B-1B) and the 384th Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135R) as its operational units.

On 1 June Strategic Air Command was inactivated as part of a massive re-alignment of the Air Force command structure. The 384th was assigned to the newly established Air Combat Command (ACC), a new command which replaced SAC, TAC and elements of Military Airlift Command (MAC). The wing was again redesignated as the 384th Bomb Wing, and the 28th BS aircraft were assigned the tail code "OZ". The 384th ARS was relieved from assignment to McConnell, and was reassigned to the 19th OG (19th Air Refueling Wing) at Robins AFB, Georgia.

As a result of a Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) related realignment, March AFB, California was taken off active-duty status and assigned to the Air Force Reserve. As part of a program to keep historically significant wings active, its 22d Air Refueling Wing was reassigned to McConnell without personnel or equipment on 1 January 1994. As a result, on 1 January, the 384th was redesignated as the 384th Bomb Group, as a unit under the 22d ARW.

The USAF planned to return McConnell to being an air refueling hub, and as a result the B-1 equipped 28th Bomb Squadron was reassigned without equipment or personnel to the 7th OG at Dyess AFB, Texas on 1 October 1994 and the 384th BG was inactivated on 30 September 1994.

Global War on Terror

The 384th AEW was in existence in an unidentified Middle Eastern location in June 2002.[1]

From February–May 2003, the 384 AEW was in existence at Sheik Isa Air Base, Bahrain.

In 4 June, the 319th Air Expeditionary Group operating from Shaik Isa Airbase, Bahrain, was redesignated as the 384th Air Expeditionary Group, which was redesignated as the 384th Air Expeditionary Wing in 3 September.

The Wing was inactivated in 2004.

Other reports have the 319th AEG operating from 'Base X' in Oman,[2] which other sources labelled Masirah Air Base.[3]


  • Established as 384th Bombardment Wing, Medium, on 23 March 1953
Activated on 1 August 1955
Discontinued, and inactivated, on 1 September 1964
Redesignated 384th Air Refueling Wing, Heavy, on 15 November 1972
Activated on 1 December 1972
Redesignated 384th Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 1 July 1987
Redesignated 384th Wing, 1 September 1991
Redesignated 384th Bomb Wing, 1 June 1992
Inactivated with personnel and equipment being absorbed by 384th Bomb Group, 1 January 1994
  • Redesignated 384th Air Expeditionary Wing on 3 September 2003.
Activated by redesignation of 384th Air Expeditionary Group on 3 September 2003
Inactivated in 2004 (Date TBD)


Attached to 7th Air Division, 3 January-5 April 1957


  • 28th Bombardment Squadron, March 1988 - December 1993

70th Bombardment Squadron (1 August 1961 – 1 September 1964)



See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

  • Mueller, Robert. Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. USAF Reference Series, Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1989. ISBN 0-912799-53-6.
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories, 1947–1977. Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1984. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Rogers, Brian. United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, UK: Midland Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.

External links

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