RAF Mildenhall is located in Suffolk, relatively close to communities in Mildenhall. It is among the most populated American bases located in the United Kingdom. It hosts over 16000 employees – both military and civilian, three different units and 15 associate tenant units.
The history of this military base began in 1930. While the Royal Air Force was looking for a prefect site to open up a base, the officials found the wide fields around Mildenhall to be excellent. The whole construction took a few years, while the groundbreaking ceremony was held in 1934. The primary role of this base was during World War II. It was used for air combat missions by the Royal Air Force Bomber Command. These operations successfully went on until 1945.
Once the war ended, hundreds of base from all over the world were inactivated or disestablished. The same rules applied throughout the United Kingdom as well. Many bases were either inactivated or placed in a stand-by mode. However, RAF Mildenhall didn’t stay out of the military world for too much. It was reactivated only 5 years later, in 1950. The United States of America managed to get an agreement with the United Kingdom to have the chance to use this base as the Cold War was slowly gaining intensity. Getting a little proximity to the Soviet Union would have been an excellent move for the Americans, therefore they gained the access to this base in the summer of 1950. It was initially reopened for the B 29 Superfortress aircrafts. A couple of years later, they were replaced with the B 50 Superfortress planes. One year later, this set had to go too in order to make some room for the KC 97 Stratotanker and the B 47 Stratojet aircrafts. These operations lasted until 1958.
In 1958, the “ancient” runway had to be reconstructed. RAF Mildenhall became the airfield with the best runway in the area then. Ever since, it represented the landing and taking off site for all the American troops in the United Kingdom. During the reconstruction, most operations were transferred to RAF Burtonwood.
These days, the base is still run by the American forces.
The diversity of the units hosted on site makes RAF Mildenhall unique among the US military bases located in Europe. The units come from four specific commands. RAF Mildenhall hosts the 501-st Combat Support Wing, the 100-th Air Refueling Wing, the 95-th Reconnaissance Squadron, the 727-th Air Mobility Squadron, the 352-nd Special Operations Group and the 488-th Intelligence Squadron. There are also 15 tenant units at RAF Mildenhall, as well as the 3-rd Air Force, a few British units or the Fleet Industrial Supply Center Sigonella. The most important British unit is the 420-th Air Base Group.