Located between Cocoa Beach and Satellite Beach in Florida, Patrick Air Force Base is home of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and the Eastern Range.
History of the Base
Originally operating as Naval Air Station Banana River which was commissioned in 1940, NAS Banana River acted as support for Air patrol operations during World War II and for two years after the end of the war. The Base was transferred to the Air Force in 1948 and renamed the Joint Long Range Proving Ground (JLRPG) Base in 1949. Later that year, it was transferred again from the Air Materiel Command to the Joint Long Range Proving Ground in the Air Force Division.
During the 1950s, the Air Force Missile Test Center (AFMTC) began outsourcing its operations to contractors including Pan American World Services, which operated under Air Force contract until 1988. In 1988, Range Technical Services (RTS) and the Launch Base Service (LBS) received contracts and then operated out of the Base.
Also operating out of the Base during this time was the Eastern Range, which supported many different missile, manned and unmanned Space programs during the 1960s. This continued until the 1970s when the Apollo program was discontinued in 1977. It was activated again as the Eastern Space and Missile Center (ESMC) in 1979 and continued until 1991, when the 45th Space Wing (45SW) took over its functions.
What Role it Plays
This United States Air Force Base basically has 5 core competencies which determine what units are stationed at Patrick Air Force Base:
1. Space Launch Operations Support, which provides launch teams, a reliable launch infrastructure and a partnership between satellite and launch program offices.
2. Eastern Range Operations, which provide resources and activities for infrastructure, flight safety and range instrumentation.
3. Base and People Support, which provides Base infrastructure, security, information systems, morale/welfare/recreation (MWR) activities, health care services, human resources, financial services, environmental stewardship and threat response to make sure that present and future missions originating from the Base are well supported.
4. Institutionalize START precepts, which mean Synchronize Actions, Trust People, All Accountable, Recognize Achievement and Tenacious Execution.
5. Expeditionary Readiness, providing equipment, processes and deployment-ready people to support both contingency and wartime taskings.
Currently, the host Wing for Patrick Air Force Base is the 45th Space Wing (45 SW) which manages the launches of rockets at Cape Canaveral AFS. Included in these rockets are satellites, scientific equipment and support for NASA, weather satellites, commercial payloads for corporations, and payloads which support the needs of international customers including the European Space Agency. Even though the 45 SW is mostly responsible for launching Space bound equipment, members of this unit have also been deployed during wartime.
In addition to operations of the 45 SW, the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) also operates out of Patrick AFB. It is an agency in the Department of Defense that maintains and operates the global network of nuclear detection technology and sensors.
The only rescue Wing in the Air Force Reserve, the 920th Rescue Wing (920 RQW) also operates out of Patrick AFB. This Wing plays a major role in civilian rescue operations and also provides manned Spaceflight support for missions run by NASA. It also provides rescue support for Space shuttle missions that go awry when launching from the Kennedy Space Center. This rescue Wing also conducts operations in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico assisting in rescues. Often, sailors who are stranded hundreds of miles from shore in the Atlantic will be rescued by units from the 902 RQW. There are planes stationed on this Base which can be refueled in flight, meaning they have much more range than some other Aircraft when performing rescue missions, thus making them more effective in certain circumstances.
Finally, the Air Wing associated with the U.S. State Department Bureau for International Narcotics and Law EnForcement AffAirs is Based at Patrick. This particular Air Wing helps other nations combat narcotics crime with its fleet of Aircraft, and it operates in such countries as Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Afghanistan.
Units on the Base
There are several major Commands and units Based on Patrick AFB. The major Commands assigned to this Base include: Air Proving Ground Command, which started in 1949, Air Reasearch and Development Command in 1951 which was later redisgnated at the Air Force Systems Command in 1961, Air Force Space Command, which was assigned in 1991 and continues until the present.
In addition to the major Commands, there are also other major units that have been assigned to Patrick AFB. These include: 2nd Combat Communications Group, 2770th Standby Squadron, Advance HQ, Joint Long Range Proving Ground, 6550th Air Base Wing (which was redesignated the 45th Support Group in 1991), Air Force Eastern Test Range, 4802d Guided Missile Squadron, 6541st Missile Test Wing, 45th Space Wing, 920th Rescue Wing.
Housing and Other Information
As far as housing is concerned, Patrick Air Force Base has privatized housing and is available for lease to the folloWing groups of individuals: Members of the National Reserve, Members of the National Guard, Military Retirees, Department of Defense civil service employees, Department of Defense contractors.
There are buildings which house visiting personnel, three different areas which serve as housing and include quarters for families, an inn for visiting personnel, and dormitories for permanent party single enlisted personnel. It also includes many clubs, a library, access to the nearby beach and several morale, welfare and recreation (MWR) facilities on the Base.
The Base is going to feature a new medical clinic which began construction in 2010. This will help serve the needs of the many civilians and military personnel who live on the Base.
It also is going to have a new AFTAC building constructed on the Base which will be the largest construction project for the Air Force in the US to date. This multistory building will serve as a Command and control center and include a radiochemistry lab, very large (180,000 square feet) parking garage and a central utility plant.