Military Wiki
Pease Air National Guard Base

Air National Guard.png

Part of New Hampshire Air National Guard (ANG)
Portsmouth / Newington / Greenland,
New Hampshire, USA
F-16s Virginia ANG with KC-135R New Hampshire ANG 2005.JPEG
F-16s Virginia ANG with KC-135R New Hampshire ANG
Type Air Force Base
Coordinates Latitude:
Built 1930s
In use 1951--present
United States Air Force
Controlled by New Hampshire Air National Guard
Garrison 157th Air Refueling Wing.png 157th Air Refueling Wing
Airfield information
Elevation AMSL 100 ft / 30 m
Direction Length Surface
ft m
16/34 11,321 3,451 Asphalt/Concrete
Statistics (2007)
Aircraft operations 51,673
Based aircraft 107
Sources: airport website[1] and FAA[2]

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Pease Air National Guard Base is a New Hampshire Air National Guard base located at Portsmouth International Airport at Pease. Formerly, the base was open as Pease Air Force Base until it was closed in 1991. Before it was closed, it was under the control of the United States Air Force's Strategic Air Command. The base occupied land in the city of Portsmouth and the towns of Newington and Greenland, in the Seacoast Region of New Hampshire. The facility occupies 4,255 acres (1,722 ha) in Rockingham County. It is 55 miles (89 km) north of Boston and 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Kittery, Maine.

Pease is currently home to the New Hampshire Air National Guard's 157th Air Refueling Wing (157 ARW), an Air Mobility Command (AMC) gained Air National Guard unit currently flying the KC-135R Stratotanker air refueling aircraft. Additionally, it is home to the 64th Air Refueling Squadron, a United States Air Force associate unit to the 157th. Pease Air National Guard Base is approximately 220 acres (89 ha) in size and currently includes 40 facilities. The current base population is 380 full-time military personnel with a monthly surge of up to 950 military personnel.


Pease Air Force Base started its long history as the 300-acre (120 ha) Portsmouth Municipal Airport in the 1930s. With the onset of World War II, the U.S. Navy used an airport at the current base location. The U.S. Air Force assumed control in 1951, when the installation was selected for development as a Strategic Air Command (SAC) base. Purchase of additional land needed for expansion of the base started in 1952 and was completed in 1956. Ground breaking for the new SAC facilities took place in 1954, and the first B-47 Stratojet bombers arrived in 1956. Now named Portsmouth Air Force Base, the installation formally opened on 30 June 1956. In 1957, the Air Force renamed the facility as Pease Air Force Base in honor of New Hampshire native Captain Harl Pease, Jr. who posthumously earned the Medal of Honor for heroism during World War II.

The mission of the base was to maintain a combat-ready force capable of long-range bombardment operations with emphasis on nuclear deterrence and nuclear strike. During its history, Pease AFB was home of the 100th Bombardment Wing and the 509th Bombardment Wing, whose mission was to develop and maintain operational capacity to permit the conduct of strategic warfare in the event of war. From 1956 until its closure in 1991, Pease Air Force Base maintained a combat-ready force for long range bombardment and nuclear strike operations. B-47 Stratojet, B-52 Stratofortress, and FB-111 Aardvark bomber aircraft, KC-97 Stratotanker and KC-135 Stratotanker air refueling aircraft and C-97 Stratofreighter, C-124 Globemaster and C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft, were all based at Pease AFB at varying times.

The 100th Bombardment Wing was later converted to a strategic reconnaissance wing and transferred to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, leaving the 509th Bombardment Wing as the principal host wing for Pease AFB. Arriving at Pease from Walker AFB, New Mexico, in 1958, the 509 BW was the successor to the famed 509th Composite Group of World War II that had executed the nuclear strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Having transitioned to the B-47 and KC-97 in the mid-1950s, the 509th was initially phased down for inactivation in 1965. However, cognizant of the historical significance of the 509th in SAC, the wing converted to the B-52D and KC-135A and was redesignated as the 509th Bombardment Wing, Heavy in 1966.

The 509th supported SAC combat and contingency operations in Southeast Asia with KC–135A aircraft and crews from 1966 to 1975, and with B–52D aircraft and crews from 1966 to 1970. From 1 April to 1 October 1968 and from 26 March to 20 September 1969, more than one-half of the wing was involved in deployed operations in Southeast Asia.

By 1 December 1969, the wing had transferred all its B-52D aircraft to other SAC units in preparation for transition to the FB-111A. Redesignated as the 509th Bombardment Wing, Medium, the 509th had no bomber aircraft from November 1969 until 1970, but continued KC-135 refueling and alert operations and performed FB-111 ground training. The wing resumed flying training with the FB-111 in December 1970 and assumed FB–111 alert commitments from 1 July 1971 until September 1990. During this time, the 509th won the SAC Bombing and Navigation Competition and the Fairchild Trophy in 1979, 1981, 1982, and 1983. The wing was also awarded the Sanders Trophy for best air refueling unit in 1982.

Following the 1988 BRAC decision to close Pease, the 509th transferred its FB-111 assets to Tactical Air Command (TAC) and its KC-135 assets to other SAC units. The wing was then administratively moved to Whiteman AFB, Missouri on 30 September 1990, but not manned until April 1993. Following the disestablishment of TAC and SAC, the renamed 509th Bomb Wing (509 BW) became a unit of the newly established Air Combat Command (ACC) on 1 September 1991. After two years of non-operational status, the 509th became operational at Whiteman AFB with delivery of its first operational B-2 Spirit stealth bomber on 17 December 1993, coinciding with the 49th anniversary of the founding of the original 509th Composite Group.

The New Hampshire Air National Guard relocated the 157th Military Airlift Group (157 MAG) from the deactivating Grenier AFB in nearby Manchester, New Hampshire, to Pease AFB in 1966. Operating the C-97 Stratofreighter, the group transitioned to the C-124 Globemaster in 1968 and to the C-130 Hercules in 1971. The mission of the group was substantially changed in 1975 when it was designated as the 157th Air Refueling Group (157 ARG) and transitioned to the KC-135A. The 157th later transitioned to the KC-135E and currently flies the KC-135R. With the introduction of the USAF "objective wing" concept into the Air National Guard in the early 1990s, the 157 ARG was redesignated to its current title as the 157th Air Refueling Wing (157 ARW).

Base closure

Pease Air Force Base was the first major installation recommended to be closed by the 1988 Commission on Base Closure and Realignment. In December 1988, Pease AFB was subsequently selected as one of 86 military installations to be closed as part of the Secretary of Defense's Commission on Base Realignment and Closure. In 1989, 3,461 active-duty military, 741 civil service workers and 347 non-appropriated fund employees were employed at Pease AFB. Of the total active duty personnel, 49 were assigned to the Air National Guard. It is estimated that the base created a total of 2,466 secondary jobs within the local communities. Military personnel began leaving the base in June 1990, and Pease AFB officially closed on 31 March 1991.

Environmental issues

Under the Air Force's Installation Restoration Program, environmental investigations began in 1983. Activities at Pease AFB in support of aircraft maintenance operations generated listed hazardous and potentially listed and/or characteristic hazardous waste, including spent degreasers, solvents, paint strippers, contaminated jet fuels, and perhaps minor quantities of other potentially hazardous waste. Due to environmental contamination of soils and groundwater, Pease AFB was placed on the National Priorities List[3] in 1990.

At sites under Superfund's jurisdiction where the source of contamination has been removed but the concentration of contaminants in groundwater exceed the groundwater quality standards, natural processes associated with natural attenuation should restore groundwater quality to acceptable levels in a reasonable time frame. At those Superfund sites where either the source of contamination is undergoing treatment or further migration of the contaminant plume represents a potential threat to human health and the environment, active treatment of contaminated groundwater in a treatment plant is ongoing.

Pease Development Authority

Base sign in 1987

The bulk of the Pease AFB, other than that property retained by the Air National Guard, was transferred to the Pease Development Authority for reuse as a civilian airport and commercial center. Renamed Pease International Tradeport, the airport opened for civilian use in 1991 and became an FAA certified airport under FAR Part 139 in October 1992. The Air Traffic Control Tower is staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The airport has all new airfield facilities and pavements including an ILS approach to both runways. Domestic and international terminal supported passenger service was provided by the third iteration of Pan American Airways until that carrier's demise. At present, Pease is served by occasional charter airline flight operations. Pease offers a Foreign Trade Zone with access to the east coast and international trade corridors by land (Interstate 95), direct air cargo from Pease or by sea via the Port of New Hampshire in Portsmouth. Air cargo access is available via the airport's main 11,300-foot (3,400 m) runway. The new international/domestic passenger terminal has Federal Inspection Service including US Customs, agriculture and immigration.[4]

The 64th Air Refueling Squadron was activated at Pease on October 2, 2009 as part of the 157th's active-guard associate concept. This is the first time that an active duty Air Force unit has returned to Pease since the active Air Force closed the base in 1991.


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website
 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Government document "157th Air Refueling Wing".

  1. Portsmouth International Airport at Pease, official site
  2. , effective 2008-06-05
  3. 55 Fed. Reg. 6154
  4. Pease ANGB
  • Maurer, Maurer. Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office 1961 (republished 1983, Office of Air Force History, ISBN 0-912799-02-1).
  • 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.
  • Mueller, Robert, Air Force Bases Volume I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982, Office of Air Force History, 1989

External links

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