RAF Mildenhall was opened in the early 1930s to provide British air capabilities in Europe, though it did not receive its first squadron of aircraft until 1934. The airbase saw significant service throughout World War II as an RAF bomber base. It was deactivated immediately following the war but was subsequently reopened in 1950 to support B-29 bombers, and subsequently B-50 and B-47 long-range bombers.
By the late 1950s, the runways were no longer capable of supporting newer aircraft and control of operations was transferred to the USAF, who used the base mainly for airlift and transport purposes for several years. Throughout the 1970s, the base was also home to several reconnaisance wings operating over the Soviet Union and the Middle East.
Following the Cold War, Mildenhall has been host to the 100th Air Refueling Wing, the only air refueling wing in Europe. Mildenhall essentially serves as a bridge between the US and Europe and the Middle East, allowing aircraft to refuel mid-air or resupply on the airfield before continuing to their destination.