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List of Air Expeditionary units of the United States Air Force

  (Redirected from Air Expeditionary Wing)

Air Expeditionary Wings/Groups (AEW/AEGs) are a Wing/Group concept used by the United States Air Force. These units are activated under temporary orders by the owning Major Command (MAJCOM) for a specific purpose or mission. Once that mission is completed, these units are inactivated.



Faced with declining budgets in the late 1990s, the U.S. Air Force realized that the Operation Northern Watch and Operation Southern Watch (ONW/OSW) patrols over Iraq were "tedious".[1] The patrols placed more strain on units worldwide than during the Cold War. This was because so many flying fighter, bomber, air refueling, and airlift squadrons had been inactivated after the end of the Cold War. The Air Force "had to change the way it did business".[1]

As the no-fly zone patrols over Iraq began to appear as an ongoing, open-ended commitment, the drain on equipment and manpower forced the Air Force to reconsider how it was going to sustain ONW/OSW patrols, as well as other required deployments worldwide. The answer developed was to end the deployment of entire wings en bloc.

It was decided that U.S. Central Command Air Forces (CENTAF) would not consist of permanently assigned units,[1] partially because of the sensitivities of Arab host states to acknowledging that U.S. forces were deployed in their countries. This made establishment of permanent units more difficult, because base access might be changed or denied with shifting, volatile, political currents. For example, during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Jordanian government denied U.S. troops were stationed in Jordan. This created a lot of concern with Jordanian military personnel stationed at Shahid Muafaq Al-Salti Air Base during the initial stages. As they were being told on television and radio that there were no U.S. troops on Jordanian soil, USAF C-17 aircraft were arriving on a daily basis with personnel and supplies. The 410th Air Expeditionary Wing was quickly growing in size. Out of confusion, Jordanian Security Forces documented everything leaving the aircraft. U.S. personnel removed labels and explosive decals from the containers, as not to aggravate the situation. American troops initially were not allowed to carry weapons in plain sight. So they carried their Beretta 9mm handguns hidden in their waistbands for protection and hid their M-4 carbines from view in their vehicles.

To minimize the risk of these kind of situations happening, the decision was taken to avoid the creation of permanent units, especially in the Middle East.

Instead, elements from different wings, even from both the active-duty component and the Air Force Reserves and Air National Guard, would be melded together for each deployment. This merging of different units from different permanent wings/groups was christened the "Air Expeditionary Force" (AEF) concept. The various units were to be drawn from Air Combat Command or ACC gained components, but also from other major commands such as Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) or United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), as necessary, to meet mission requirements. AEF organizations were to be fundamentally temporary in nature, organized to meet a specific mission or commitment. They thus replaced the "Provisional" deployed units attached to the command during the 1991 (Persian) Gulf War.

Air Expeditionary UnitsEdit

Unit Shield Location Reports to Status Aircraft Notes
13 AEG
Christchurch IAP, New Zealand PACAF Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica[2]
16 AEW
USAFE Inactive
31 AEW USAFE Inactive
40 AEW
Diego Garcia, c.2001-2003 Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) Inactive Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, Rockwell B-1 Lancer
64 AEG
Eskan Village, Saudi Arabia United States Air Forces Central Active
320 AEW
Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, DC Air Force District of Washington Inactive
321 AEW
New Al Muthana Air Base, Iraq AFCENT Active
322 AEG
AFCENT Inactive
323 AEW
RoAF 71st Air Base, Campia Turzii, Balotesti, Romania USAFE Inactive Activated from 14 Mar to 30 Apr 2008.
332 AEW
Ahmad al-Jaber Air Base, Kuwait AFCENT Inactive A-10, C-130,
F-16CG/C+, HH-60G,
Predator UAV
363 AEW
Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia ACC Inactive Redesignated 363 FTG
370 AEAG
ACC Active Iraq
376 AEW
Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan AFCENT Inactive KC-135
379 AEW
Al-Udeid Air Base, Qatar AFCENT Active KC-135, C-130
380 AEW
Al Dhafra Air Base, UAE AFCENT Active U-2, RQ-4, KC-135, KC-10
384 AEW
Shaikh Isa Air Base, Bahrain ACC/AFCENT
385 AEG Incirlik AB, Turkey AMC Active
386 AEW
Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait ACC/AFCENT Active C-130
387 AEG
Kuwait City IAP, Kuwait AFCENT Active
398 AEG
ACC Inactive
401 AEW
USAFE Inactive
404 AEG
Ramstein AB, Germany United States Air Forces Africa Active C-130 Air Forces Africa[3]
405 AEW
ACC Inactive B-1 Lancer Thumrait, Oman during Afghan, Iraq Wars.[4]
406 AEW
Diyarbakir, Turkey[5] USAFE/AFCENT Inactive
407 AEG
Ali Air Base, Iraq, 14 April 2003 – 16 December 2011;Ahmad al-Jaber Air Base, Kuwait, 2016–present. AFCENT Active C-130H
409 AEG
Ārba Minch IAP, Ethiopia United States Air Forces Africa ISR operations (UAVs), seemingly Horn of Africa.[3]
410 AEW
Prince Hassan Air Base (H-5), and Shahid Muafaq Al-Salti Air Base, Jordan 2003 ACC Inactive
416 AEG
ACC Inactive
432 AEW
Creech Air Force Base, Nevada ACC Active MQ-1, MQ-9
438 AEW
Kabul IAP, Afghanistan AFCENT Active
444 AEW ACC Inactive
447 AEG
Iraq USAFE Inactive
449 AEG
Camp Lemonier, Djibouti USAFE Active
451 AEG
Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan AFCENT Active MQ-1, MQ-9, MC-12W Liberty, E-11A
455 AEW
Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan AFCENT Active F-16C
457 AEG
RAF Fairford, United Kingdom (2003) AFCENT Inactive Boeing B-52 Stratofortress
466 AEG
Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar AFCENT Active Previously Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan
467 AEG
Iraq AFCENT Inactive Inactivated Dec 2011
484 AEW
Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar ACC Inactive Expeditionary Air Support Operations
485 AEW
Iraq AFCENT Inactive C-130
486 AEW
Ahmad al-Jaber Air Base, Kuwait ACC Inactive C-130
487 AEW
Cairo West, Egypt (2003) ACC Inactive The unit's last known assignment was in 2003 at Cairo West Airfield, Egypt, during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was commanded by Brig. Gen. Randal D. "Randy" Fullhart (March 2003 – May 2003).
506 AEG
Joint Base Balad, Iraq AFCENT Inactive C-130
651 AEG [3] Camp Bastion, Afghanistan AFCENT Active HH-60 Activated 29 June 2011

Other air expeditionary wings/groupsEdit

The 462d Air Expeditionary Group was assigned to AMC and activated at Diego Garcia Naval Support Facility, British Indian Ocean Territory, from 15 July 2002, for an unknown period.

In June 2002, the 492d Bombardment Group was converted to provisional status as the 492d Air Expeditionary Group and assigned to Air Mobility Command (AMC) to activate or inactivate as needed for contingency operations. AMC activated the unit once, at Lajes Field in the Azores from March through May 2003 during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[6]

From June 2013 – January 2014, the Personnel Recovery Task Force/563d Air Expeditionary Group, was active at Trapani Air Base, Italy.[7]



  • Air Force Instruction 38-101, AIR FORCE ORGANIZATION, 4 APRIL 2006 (with Change 2, dated 20 July 2006, and later).