The C-17 Globemaster III guarantees America’s global military and humanitarian reach. Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., home to the US Air Force’s first C-17 wing, is America’s gateway to the world.
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The 437th Airlift Wing, together with our Reserve associate wing, the 315th Airlift Wing, provides a large part of Air Mobility Command’s Global Reach airlift capability. This rapid, flexible and responsive air mobility promotes stability in regions by keeping America’s capability and character highly visible.
The mission of the 437 AW is to command assigned airlift and supporting units; provide for the airlift of troops and passengers, military equipment, cargo and aeromedical airlift and to participate in operations involving the airland or airdrop of troops, equipment and supplies when required.
Apart from its heavy airdrop commitment and a demanding humanitarian mission, Charleston AFB’s mission requirements range from supporting U.S. Embassies to supplying humanitarian airlift relief to victims of disasters, to airdropping troops into the heart of contingency operations in hostile areas.
Team Charleston’s vision is to provide the premier airlift force for America from the world’s premier base One Family! One Mission! One Fight!
Charleston AFB has 7,509 active duty and Air Reserve Component military and civilian personnel. They include approximately 3,964 active duty, 2,524 reservists, and 1,021 civilians. About 14,079 military retirees make their home in the Charleston area.
Charleston AFB’s economic impact on the local communities in fiscal year 2005 was more than $740.5 million. The FY 05 payroll was $261.8 million and approximately 2,781 indirect jobs were created by the base in FY 05. The estimated annual dollar value of new jobs is $94.8 million. In FY 05, Air Force reservists assigned to the 315th AW spent nearly $1.3 million on hotels near the base. The base spent $280.3 million dollars on jet fuel in FY 05, making it the base’s costliest expense.
Charleston is home to 50 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. The cost per jet is approximately $202.3 million. The cost of the fleet is $10.3 billion. The cost to fly a C-17 is $7,975/hour. A C-17 crew consists of pilot, co-pilot, and loadmaster. The C-17 has a cruise speed of approximately 500 miles per hour at 28,000 feet (Mach .74). It also has a global range with in-flight refueling. Its maximum load is about 170,000 pounds, and it can fit two large buses, three helicopters, one of the Army’s newest tanks or other outsized cargo. In addition it features heads-up display, can airdrop both cargo and 102 paratroopers, and is able to land on small, austere airfields landing in as short as 3,000 feet.
Charleston AFB has 1,010 buildings, totaling 4,873,962 square feet. There are presently 716 housing units on base for officer and enlisted personnel and their families, with a projected decrease to 476 by FY 15. There are six dormitories, with 545 bed spaces, for un-accompanied noncommissioned officers and airmen. Temporary lodging facilities have 205 rooms, to include visiting quarters and aircrew alert facilities. The buildings and real property on Charleston AFB are valued at $479 million and the land is valued at $2.1 million.
Charleston AFB is a joint-use airfield, sharing two intersecting runways with Charleston International Airport. The primary runway is 9,001 feet long and the intersecting runway is 7,000 feet long. The base maintains the two runways and most of the taxiways, and security and crash rescue response for all flights.
Charleston AFB was the first fully operational C-17 base in the Air Force. The base is constantly involved in the Denton Amendment program flying humanitarian aid on available missions to worldwide destinations in more than eleven countries.
Charleston AFB either prepared or moved 80 percent of the cargo for the Denton program. Charleston has seven 60-K Tunner loaders that can easily transport and load heavy, palletized cargo on all aircraft. Additionally, Charleston AFB has more than 6,700 computers and 643 government owned vehicles.
The 437th Airlift Wing is comprised of four operational groups:
· 437th Operations Group distinguishes itself by projection of America’s global reach through direct delivery, airdrop and air refueling.
· 437th Maintenance Group dedicated to performing organizational and intermediate-level maintenance on all assigned C-17 aircraft; also provides total logistics support for the wing.
· 437th Mission Support Group provides morale, welfare, security, housing, lodging, engineering, communications, food services, disaster preparedness, and much more base support for 61 organizations.
· 437th Medical Group supports combat readiness through training quality-managed health care for area beneficiaries.
· 437th Airlift Wing Staff includes a variety of agencies that directly support the wing commander, group commanders and the base population.
· Four tenant units also share the base; 315th Airlift Wing (Air Reserve Command); 1st Combat Camera Squadron; Air Force Office of Special Investigation; and 373rd Training Squadron, Air Education Training Command
1931 An airfield and flying service were established at Charleston’s airport
1941 The Army Air Corps took control of the airfield to establish a defense for the eastern coast of the U.S. for World War II
1942 The first flights, consisting of anti-submarine missions, took off from Charleston Army Air Field
1943 The 437th Troop Carrier Group was activated at Baer Field, Indiana
1945 The 437TCG was inactivated after its participation in the Battle of the Bulge
1946 Military operations at the airfield closed
1949 The 437th was reactivated into the Reserves
1952 Charleston and the Air Force agreed to establish a Troop carrier base and allow joint use of the runways. The 456th Troop Carrier Wing became the host unit under Tactical Air Command
1956 The base was transferred to the command of Military Air Transport Service. The 1608th Air Transport Wing became the host unit
1966 MATS became Military Airlift Command and the 1608th was discontinued. The 437th Military Airlift Wing was reactivated and assigned to Charleston AFB. All the equipment from the 1608th was reassigned to the 437th
1991 The 437th MAW was redesigned as the 437th Airlift Wing when Military Airlift Command became Air Mobility Command
1993 In June, the 17th Airlift Squadron became the first operational squadron in the Air Force to convert to the C-17A Globemaster III
2000 The 16th Airlift Squadron deactivated July 15, marking the end of 35 years of C-141’s here. At one time, Charleston had 58 C-141’s assigned
2001 Flew first night combat/humanitarian coalition mission into Afghanistan
2002 16th Airlift Squadron reactivated as fourth operational C-17 unit July 26
2003 First-ever airdrop of troops into a combat zone from a C-17–combat air and land insertion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade into Northern Iraq. Sixty-two missions were flown with more than 2,000 passengers, more than 3,000 tons of cargo, more than 400 vehicles and with 100 percent mission reliability
2004 The wing’s C-17s delivered the personnel and outsized equipment need to construct Forward Operating Base Carlson in Afghanistan, conducting AMC’s first C-17 low altitude airdrop during contingency operations. Later that year the wing landed the first C-17 aircraft on that 90-foot-wide dirt strip at FOB Carlson, validating the C-17’s ability to operate in a high altitude, mountainous environment.
2005 The 437th Airlift Wing flew 40 missions in support of Hurricane Katrina, airlifting 1,736 patients/evacuees, 1,217 passengers/relief workers, and 1,541 tons of cargo to and from locations such as New Orleans and Keesler AFB, Miss.
CHARLESTON AFB AIRCRAFT, PAST TO PRESENT
Data courtesy USAF