Torrejon Air Base, Spain
USAFE/HQ 26 May 2000
Project Clear Water was a series of reductions in the 60s of overseas bases and manpower. It effectively ended SAC operations in Spain. The interceptor squadron left Torrejon in 1964 and SAC ceased reflux operations in Mar 65 but retained the KC-135 wing at Torrejon until it moved to RAF Mildenhall in Jan 76.
The host unit at Torrejon became the 401 TFW however the Spanish Air Force retained ownership of the base and had an active wing there. The 401 TFW had three squadrons flying F-100s, then F-4 and then F-16s. The 625 MAS handled MAC traffic and passenger service and Torrejon became the main terminal for the Mediterranean area after French bases were closed in 67. The 1989 Comm Gp maintained a nationwide net of 8 comm sites and provided air traffic control and comm support. In Jan 88 the US and Spain signed a new agreement on Defense cooperation which required the 401 TFW to leave Spain by May 92. Studies began on finding an alternative base for the unit.
During the Gulf War the 401TFW sent a squadron to Qatar and one to Incirlik to support Allied operations. Torrejon Air Base supported 10,000 MAC sorties carrying 85,000 troops and 130,000 tons of cargo through the base to the Gulf. Torrejon handled 80 percent of the airlift missions. During the buildup and war, the base pumped 200 million gallons of fuel to transiting aircraft.
During 1992, USAFE withdrew most of its forces from Spain. the 401st began inactivating its squadrons and redeploying aircraft to other USAFE bases and to the US in July 1991. The last F-16 aircraft left Torrejon on 24 March, ending 26 years of Air Force fighter presence in Spain. On 4 May, in formal ceremonies, the 401st transferred to Aviano without personnel or equipment. Headquarters Sixteenth Air Force also moved to Aviano AB from Torrejon during 1992.
Torrejon AB drew down quickly once the fighter squadrons inactivated and by early April, the base was a virtual ghost town. Air Force base operations closed on 1 Apr 92 and thereafter USAFE air traffic control information was given only in Spanish. Throughout the spring and summer, the Air Force continued to turn over buildings and facilities to the Spanish Air Force. The 600ABGp was activated on 4 May 92 to continue the drawdown and support the remaining personnel. The 1989th Communications Wing inactivated on 30 Sep 92.
After the inactivation of the 600th Air Base Group on 1 Oct 94, the only permanently stationed US personnel at Torrejon were 10 members of Air Mobility Command plus five local nationals to provide a limited enroute capability for airlift operations which would soon move to Rota NAS, Spain.
The runway and taxiways at Torrejon had been heavily damaged by US transport aircraft during the Gulf War in 1990 and 1991. In 1993, USAFE returned the runway and taxiways to the Spanish Air Force without a US commitment or Spanish request for repair or restoration. But without repair, they would continue to deteriorate and would eventually become unusable for USAF contingency requirements. In June 1994 a joint agreement was signed and repairs were made. These repairs would keep the runway operable at least through 1997, when the current Agreement on Defense Cooperation with Spain expired . On 20 Feb 97 Air Mobility Command concluded that Torrejon was no longer needed as an enroute support base.
The base was officially returned to the Spanish Air Force on 30 Jun 98 and remains an active Spanish Air Force base.
Torrejon Air Base, Spain Information
Torrejon Air Base, Spain Information
Location: 20 miles NNE of Madrid
Date of Current Name: 15 Dec 55
Previous Names: Aeropuerto de Torrejon
Date of Establishment: 1 Jun 57
Date Construction Began: 27 Sep 53
Date of Beneficial Occupancy: 1 Jul 56
Base Operating Units:
01 Jul 56 - 1 Jul 57 7600 ABGp
01 Sep 57 - 1 Jun 59 3970 ABGp
01 Jun 59 - 1 Jun 64 redesignated as 3970 CSGp
01 Jun 64 - 1 Jun 66 redesignated as 3970 Strat Wg
15 Apr 66 - 4 May 92 401 CSGp
04 May 92 - 1 Oct 94 600 ABGp
Major Units Assigned: 08 Jan 57 - 1 Jan 65 871 AC&W Sq
15 Sep 57 - 1 Jul 71 21 Wea Sq
01 Oct 57 - 1 Jan 65 65 AD
04 Oct 57 - 30 Sep 92 1989 AACS Sq
redesignated 1989 Comm Sq
redesignated 1989 Comm Gp
01 Feb 58 - 10 Aug 92 16 AF
21 Jun 58 - 18 Jun 64 497 FIS F-86, F-102
01 Mar 60 - 7 Jan 71 Spanish Comm Region (ECD)
08 Jan 66 - 96? 625th Military Airlift Support Group (MAC)
redesignated Det 1 625 AMSS (MAC)
Disposition: Returned 30 Jun 98