Nellis Air Force Base
Known as the”Home of the Fighter Pilot,” Nellis Air Force Base is home to the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center, located just minutes from Sin City in Clark County, Nevada. Nellis is the largest demanding air combat training facility in the world.
The United States Air Force Warfare Center exists to ensure when our country chooses to deploy forces into a combat arena we send them well trained and well equipped to conduct integrated combat operations. From our testing and tactics development programs to our training schools and venues we provide a means to equip the force with proven technology, the most current tactics, superb academic training and a unique opportunity to practice integrated force employment. The USAF Warfare Center vision, mission statement and focus areas are central to fulfilling our role in aiding Air Combat Command’s mission to provide unrivaled combat forces.
The history of Nellis AFB began with a survey in October 1940, by Major David M. Schlatter of the Army Air Corps, who examined various sites in the southwest in search of a location for an aerial gunnery school. Las Vegas was attractive with its clear weather and year-round flying conditions, and the then-impoverished city was eager for a military base. On January 2, 1941, the city bought an airstrip run by Western Air Express and leased it to the Air Corps three days later, the plan being to use the strip for both military and civilian aircraft.
Construction of the “Las Vegas Army Air Field” began in March 1941, and the first commander, Colonel Martinus Stenseth, arrived in May. Much of the early gunnery training which began in January 1942, used machine guns mounted in trucks and targets on railroad cars to accustom students to firing at a moving target. World War II made the base’s mission especially urgent and by the end of 1942, 9,117 gunners had graduated, with aircraft in use including Martin B-10s, AT-6s, A-33s, B-17 Flying Fortresses, B-24 Liberators, and B-26 Marauders. At the height of training in 1943 and 1944, over 15,000 men and women were at the base. Actors Ronald Reagan and Burgess Meredith came to help produce the propaganda film Rear Gunner. Much of the training was for B-17 gunners, then at the beginning of 1945, emphasis shifted to the B-29 Superfortress. An innovation was the use of a specially-designed target aircraft, the RP-63, which was sufficiently armored to be shot at with breakable bullets. At war’s end, the school had trained over 45,000 B-17 gunners, and over 3,000 for the B-29. The gunnery school closed in September 1945, and the base itself was officially inactivated in January 1947.
There are approximately 11,000 military and 3,700 civilians who work at Nellis. On average there are over 1,200 temporary duty (TDY) personnel each day at Nellis, and over 8,000 official visitors annually.