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Whiteman Air Force Base
Sixty miles southeast of Kansas City, nestled among the wooded, rolling hills of west-central Missouri, two miles south of Knob Noster, is the bustling community of Whiteman Air Force Base. Whiteman is the home of the 509th Bomb Wing, which is proud to serve as the host unit for the base. Other associated units at Whiteman include the Air Force Reserve’s 442nd Fighter Wing, the Missouri Army National Guard’s 1-135th Aviation Battalion and the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing.
The mission statement of the 509th Bomb Wing is “Team Whiteman provides Strategic Deterrence, Global Power, and Combat Support to Combatant and Joint Force Commanders...Anytime, Anywhere.” Every day, members of Team Whiteman operate, maintain and support America’s premier stealth aircraft and other important assets, providing national leaders with truly unmatched long-range strike and nuclear deterrence capabilities.
Primary Weapon Systems
The 509th Bomb Wing is responsible for supporting America’s strategic deterrence and global power team by operating, maintaining and supporting a B-2 combat force capable of delivering rapid, decisive and precise air power anytime and anywhere. It brings massive firepower to bear, in a short time, anywhere on the globe through previously impenetrable defenses. Assigned aircraft at Whiteman include the B-2, T-38 Talon trainer aircraft, A-10 Thunderbolt II and AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopter.
B-2 Stealth Bomber
The B-2 Stealth Bomber is a multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. Possessing an unrefueled range of approximately 6,000 nautical miles and the ability to penetrate deep into enemy airspace undetected and unassisted, the B-2 can place at risk any fixed or movable target and protect the aircraft and crew from hostilities while providing them with the necessary tools to complete their mission and return safely home. Once deployed, the B-2 renders enemy air defenses ineffective and serves as a deterrent to hostilities and a preserver of peace.
The effectiveness of the B-2 was first proven in Operation Allied Force in 1999, when, during its first operations in combat, it destroyed 33 percent of all Serbian targets in the first eight weeks by flying nonstop from Missouri to Kosovo and back. The aircraft was also called into combat service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001, Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and most recently Operation Odyssey Dawn in 2011, when three B-2s flying a single mission destroyed the entirety of the Libyan air force while it was still on the ground.
A-10 Thunderbolt II
The A-10 Thunderbolt II is a single-seat fighter jet designed to provide close air support for ground forces by attacking tanks and other armored vehicles. The A-10 was designed around the GAU-8 Avenger, a heavy rotary cannon that forms the aircraft’s primary armament. The cannon is capable of firing 3,900 rounds per minute. The A-10’s hull incorporates more than 1,200 pounds of armor and was designed with survivability as a priority, with protective measures in place which enable the aircraft to continue flying even after taking significant damage. The A-10 can also employ a wide variety of conventional munitions, including general purpose bombs, cluster bombs, laser guided bombs, joint direct attack munitions (JDAM) and AGM-65 Maverick and AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. The 442d has been involved in the Berlin Crisis, the Cold War and Operation Desert Storm, and Operations Deny Flight, Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
AH-64D Apache Longbow
The AH-64 Apache is the Army’s heavy division/corps attack helicopter. The Apache conducts rear, close and shaping missions including deep precision strikes. It also conducts distributed operations, precision strikes against re-locatable targets, and provides armed reconnaissance when required in day, night, obscured battlefield and adverse weather conditions. The combination of the radar, advanced navigation and avionics suite of the aircraft provide increased situational awareness, lethality and survivability.
Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing
In 2008, Whiteman AFB welcomed the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing into its midst as an associate B-2 unit. In fact, Whiteman Air Force Base is a model for the Air Force when it comes to “Total Force Integration,” or TFI. Every day, Missouri’s citizen-airmen work alongside active-duty personnel to support, maintain and fly the nation’s most advanced bomber.
Air Force Reserve’s 442d Fighter Wing
The 442d Fighter Wing is composed of nearly 1,200 members at Whiteman Air Force Base and one geographically separated unit; the 476th Fighter Group, Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The wing is responsible for the combat readiness of 27 A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft - all the A-10s in the Air Force Reserve. The 442d moved to Whiteman from Richards-Gebaur Air Force Base, Kansas City, Mo., in June 1994.
Army National Guard’s 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion
The 1-135th Attack Aviation Battalion’s mission is to conduct attack, reconnaissance and security operations that complement other maneuver forces. They control the AH-64D Apache Longbow helicopters at Whiteman Air Force Base. The National Guard is the only component of the armed forces that has both federal and state missions. The Missouri National Guard’s federal mission is to provide federal support when called upon by the president - this could be for overseas contingency operations or federal emergencies like Hurricane Katrina. Their state mission is to support the governor of Missouri in times of state crisis.
Whiteman has a history dating back to the years during World War II. First, the base is named in honor of 2nd Lt. George A. Whiteman, a Sedalia native who was one of the first American Airmen killed in combat during World War II, when his P-40 fighter, the “Lucky Me,” was shot down during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In October 1955, members of the wing saw the base name change to Whiteman AFB, in honor of 2nd Lt. Whiteman. Second, U.S. Army Air Corps officials selected the current site of the base to be the home of Sedalia Army Air Field in 1942. The base was one of eight sites dedicated to training glider pilots (specifically, those flying the Waco CG-4A) for combat missions performed by Troop Carrier Command. For a brief time following the end of World War II, the airfield remained in service as an operational location for Army Air Force C-46 and C-47 transports. In December 1947, the base was placed on inactive status and the name changed in June 1948 to Sedalia Air Force Auxiliary Field.
After initially being considered as a possible site for the Air Force Academy, in August 1951, Strategic Air Command selected the base to be the site of one of its new bombardment wings. The base was re-designated Sedalia Air Force Base, and in October 1952, SAC activated the 340th Bombardment Wing with both B-47 Stratojet bombers and KC-97 Stratotanker air refueling aircraft assigned.
As B-47s were phased out of the U.S. Air Force in the early 1960s, Whiteman AFB’s mission shifted from aircraft to the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missile. In June 1961, officials selected the base to become the command’s fourth Minuteman missile wing, the 351st Strategic Missile Wing. The 340th was inactivated in September 1963, and the missile wing went on full operational alert in June 1964.
In the late 1980s, the 351st fielded the first female Minuteman missile crew, the first male and female Minuteman crew, and the first squadron commander to pull alert in the Minuteman system.