An F-106A deployed to the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Griffiss Air Force Base in 1970.
T-33A parked at the ramp of Griffiss Air Force Base.
Aerial view of Griffiss Air Force Base.

Griffiss Air Force Base (GAFB) is located 24km north-west of Utica in Rome, New York. Built on a 3,552-acre site, the fighter base opened in February 1942. It was initially known as Rome Air Depot (RAD) and carried out fighter interceptor missions, electronic research, installation, aerial refuelling and bomber operations.

The base was decommissioned in 1995. It is currently serving as the Griffiss Business and Technology Park, housing private and public enterprises.

Griffiss Air Force Base history

Owned and operated by the United States Air Force (USAF), the RAD was originally built to repair and overhaul aircraft engines. The War Department ordered the facility to be built in June 1941.

Construction began on 2 August 1941. The flight operations were commenced on 18 February 1942. The air depot was occupied by the US Army Air Forces (now USAF) for operations on 24 March 1942.

It was renamed Griffiss Air Force Base in September 1948 after a series of renamings and realignments between 1942 and 1948.

Electronics research activities at the base began in 1949. Watson Laboratory Complex was migrated from Red Bank to Rome between 1950 and 1951. Inaugurated on 12 June 1951, the Rome Air Development Center (RADC) at the base met the electronic requirements of the USAF by installing the AFLC communications-electronics field office which monitors missile tests. A new intelligence and reconnaissance laboratory was built in May 1954.

“Griffiss Air Force Base (GAFB) is located 24km north-west of Utica in Rome, New York.”

A composite medical facility was built in 1974 and the electronic research facility was opened in 1976. The construction of the weapons system security alert area and the control tower was completed in March 1979 and June 1980 respectively. The air-launched cruise missile (ALCM) support facility and the NORAD regional operational control centre were opened in November 1981.

The RADC was renamed as Rome Laboratory in 1991 and started to execute research and development activities.

In 1992, it became part of the Air Force Material Command (AFMC) to develop command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) system technologies.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a $138m clean-up programme to remove more than 2,900 acres of hazardous area from the base as part of the Interagency Agreement signed in June 1990. It also planned to transfer part of the property in advance through covenant deferral request (CDR).

GAFB was chosen for realignment in July 1993 under the 1990 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) act for converting the base operations to civilian and commercial missions. It was ultimately decommissioned on 30 September 1995.

Garrison facilities

The base served as headquarters for AFMC, 4,104th Army Air Force Base Unit, 65th Reconnaissance Group, 71st Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 27th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 6,530th Air Base Wing, 465th Air Refuelling Squadron, 2,856th Air Base Wing, 4,247th Air Defence Group, 49th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 41st Air Refuelling Squadron, 56th Munitions Maintenance Squadron and 4,039th Strategic Wing (renamed as 416th Bombardment Wing (416 BW) in February 1963).

Other tenant units included 485th Engineering Installation Group (485 EIG), 21st Air Division, 10th Mountain Division, 24th Air Division, Rome Laboratory, 509th Air Refuelling Squadron (509 ARS), 2,019th Information Systems Squadron and Strategic Air Command (SAC).

Air facilities

Griffiss Air Force base operated F-101 Voodoos until 1968. The F-106 Delta Darts deployed in the 49th Fighter Interceptor Squadron replaced the F-101 in 1969. It was inactivated in July 1987. The base also accommodated KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft, B-52H, UH-1 transport helicopter, AH-1F combat helicopter and OH-58A reconnaissance helicopter.

“Griffiss Air Force base operated F-101 Voodoos until 1968.”

A 6,500ft hard concrete surface runway was built at the base in 1942. The length of the runway was further extended to 12,000ft in July 1958 to operate Boeing KC-135 and the B-52 aircraft. The airfield is currently used by Griffiss International Airport.

Other Griffiss facilities

The base has a secure and storage area for the staff, an aircraft engine run-up facility and mobile hospital storage facilities.