Sheppard Air Force Base (SPS) is a military training base situated 8km north of Wichita County, Texas, in the US. Built on a 300-acre site, the base is owned and operated by the US Air Force (USAF) and Air Education and Training Command (AETC) respectively.
Northrop Grumman incorporated a real-time electronics flight information system (REFS) at the SPS in March 2010. The REFS is the first terminal flight data management system to alleviate inter and intra-communication facility between the Texas-based en-route air traffic control (ATC) centre and the Sheppard base.
Sheppard Air Force Base history
The proposal to build the Sheppard Air Force base originated in November 1940. The commander of the US Army Air Corps Technical Schools surveyed the area around the city of Wichita Falls. The Army Air Corps granted permission in February 1941 to build the training school.
Sheppard Field (now known as Sheppard Air Force Base) was built adjacent to the south of Kell Field in October 1941 as an army air corps training centre for the Second World War. It was named after Senator Morris E Sheppard.
The field trained sailplane mechanics, pilot training instructors and B-29 Superfortress flight engineers during the Second World War. It also executed basic flight training and advance pilot training. Sheppard Field was deserted in August 1946 and its control transferred to the army corps of engineers in April 1947. It was in turn handed over to the air force on 1 August 1948.
The field was reactivated and redesignated Sheppard Air Force Base on 15 August 1948. Gunter base shifted its USAF Medical Service School to SPS in March 1966. Three training schools were established at the base during the 1980s to train the students in maintenance, transportation, communication, civil engineering, aircrew life support and field training.
The US Department of Defense unveiled a base realignment and closure (BRAC) programme in May 2005 to relocate the aviators, maintenance technicians and logistics support personnel to Eglin Air Force Base for handling of the F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter.
SPS design and construction
The 2006 Wichita Falls School Bond election supplied $1.5m in funding in June 2010 to renovate the elementary school located at the Sheppard Air Force base.
The renovation work encompassed building a new gym, large clinic, new façade, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems in the school. It also included the construction of a teachers’ lounge, a principal’s office and expansion of the circle driveway.
Three agencies including the Secretary of Defence, Army Air Force Exchange Service and AETC awarded $10m to SPS in March 2011 to build a new fitness centre and dormitories and renovate Buildings 791, 792 and 793. The project completion date is yet to be unveiled.
The SPS serves as headquarters for AETC which comprises the 82nd Training Wing (82 TW) and 80th Flying Training Wing (80 FTW).
82 TW was activated in 1947 and offers technical, medical and field training to officers, airmen and civilians of all Department of Defence agencies and foreign countries. It is organised into four groups including 982nd Training Group, 82nd Mission Support Group, 82nd Logistics Group and 82nd Medical Group.
The 80 FTW was deployed at the base in January 1942 and started conducting the Euro-Nato joint jet pilot training (ENJJPT) programme in 1981. The wing comprises the 80th Operations Group, which carries out pilot training and ATC missions.
The squadrons assigned to the base include the 360th Training Squadron, 361st Training Squadron, 362nd Training Squadron, 363rd Training Squadron, 80th Operations Support Squadron, 88th Fighter Training Squadron, 89th Flying Training Squadron, 90th Flying Training Squadron, 459th Flying Training Squadron and 469th Flying Training Squadron.
Sheppard air facilities
The Sheppard base has four runways paved with asphalt and concrete. The length of the longest runway is 3,993m. The second runway is 3,049m long. The lengths of the third and fourth runways are 2,140m and 1,829m respectively.
The base shares one of its runways with Wichita Falls Municipal Airport under a joint civil-military arrangement. It can accommodate T-38C, T-6A, T-37, T-38 and AT-38 aircraft.
Garver constructed the airfield operations complex (AOC) in the Sheppard base at a cost of $10.9m. The AOC boasts ATC tower and a single-storey airfield operations building (AOB) made up of structural steel.
The control tower was built to replace the 40-year-old building and carry out uninterrupted flight operations at the base. The AOB incorporates the critical ATC equipment and assists in flight line operations.
The base renders training, education, temporary lodging, accommodation, childcare, medical care and recreation facilities.