Air Force Bases

Ramstein Air Base, Germany

Location: Located 7 miles west of Kaiserslautern, 3 miles northeast of Landstuhl, and 2 1/2 mi east-southeast of Ramstein, Rheinland-Pfalz, Federal Republic of Germany.

Origin of current name: Named after a town in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Date current name was assigned to base: August 15, 1958

Previous Names: Landstuhl AB, 5 Aug 1952; Ramstein AB, 1 Jun 1953 (Landstuhl and Ramstein separate bases until 1957) RamsteinLandstuhl AB, 1 Dec 1957.

Date Established: August 5, 1952

Date Occupied: February 2, 1952

Construction Began: April 1, 1952

Base Units: 86th AB Gp, 5 Apr 1952; 7030th HQ Spt Gp (7030th Spt Gp; 7030th AB Wg; 7030th Cmbt Spt Wg), 6 Apr 1953; 26th Cmbt Spt Gp, 5 Oct 1966; 86th Cmbt Spt Gp, 31 Jan 1973.

Changes in Capability: Original tract acquired by French Army and construction work began in Apr 1951; Det 1, 86th Ftr-Bmbr Wg arrived from Neubiberg AB Feb 1952; established as a USAFE base on 5 Aug 1952; operations at Ramstein began 21 Aug 1952; south side of base named Landstuhl AB and the north side (where HQ Twelfth AF was based) named Ramstein; the two sides separated by an autobahn; Ramstein and Landstuhl consolidated on 1 Dec 1957 as Ramstein-Landstuhl AB, a name shortened to Ramstein in 1958; base supported operations of USAF and Allied units as directed by USAFE, Aug 1952óNov 1968; Ramstein also provided support for HQ Fourth Allied Tac AF, which moved to Ramstein from Trier AB on 10 Nov 1957, and HQ Twelfth AF until 10 Nov 1957, when the advanced echelon of HQ USAFE replaced it; HQ Seventeenth AF, in turn, replaced HQ USAFE at Ram-stein on 15 Nov 1959; construction work began on aerial port facilities for MAC, 14 Dec 1970; HQ Seventeenth AF moved to Sembach AB to make room for the expected move of HQ USAFE to Ramstein AB on 31 Jan 1973; HQ USAFE completed its move from Wiesbaden to Ramstein on 14 Mar 1973; HQ Allied AF, Central Europe, established at Ramstein on 28 Jun 1974; Ramstein subsequently provided support for other headquarters, including the 322d Alft Div, which arrived on 23 Jun 1978, and SAC's 7th Air Div, which arrived on 1 Jul 1978; HQ Fourth Allied Tac AF moved from Ramstein to Heidelberg in Aug 1980.

Changes in Status: None.


In 1940, construction of today's Bundesautobahn 6 was stopped when a bridge that was being built across the Rhine River near Mannheim collapsed, leaving a section of autobahn that could not be used. A part of the unused autobahn to the west of Mannheim, near Kaiserslautern, was used as an airstrip by the Luftwaffe. The airstrip was also used by the advancing United States Army Air Forces during the final months of World War II. The old autobahn section is still used as the access road to the east and west gates of the base and the Bundesautobahn 6 was re-built south of the air base after the war.

During the initial postwar era, the USAAF repaired several former Luftwaffe airfields in Bavaria which was part of the American occupation zone of Germany. With the advent of the Berlin Blockade and the chilling of relations with the Soviet Union by 1948 it became obvious to United States Air Force planners that these bases were tactically untenable because of their proximity to the East German and Czechoslovakian borders.

With the creation of NATO in response to Cold War tensions in Europe in 1949, USAFE wanted its vulnerable fighter units in what was then West Germany moved west of the Rhine (Rhein) River to provide greater air defense warning time. France agreed to provide air base sites within their zone of occupation in the Rheinland-Palatinate as part of the NATO expansion program.

Construction of the modern USAF/NATO base near Kaiserslautern began in April 1951 under the provisions of a Franco-American reciprocal agreement. Two separate, but adjoining bases were designed. A headquarters base for Twelfth Air Force, along with several NATO organizations, designated as Ramstein Air Base and an operational fighter base, designated as Landstuhl Air Base. What is today known as Kisling Memorial Avenue would separate the two facilities.

Enough construction was completed in mid 1952, that Landstuhl AB was opened on 5 August. Its facilities included a runway, dispersal hardstands, a control tower, ramps and other flight-related facilities and the associated flying and support units. On 1 February 1952, Det 1, 86th Fighter-Bomber Wing arrived at Landstuhl AB from Neubiberg Air Base near Munich.

On 1 June 1953 Ramstein AB was opened. Ramstein was the location of headquarters, Twelfth Air Force, and supported family housing, base exchange, commissary, dependents' schools and other administrative offices. On 27 April 1953, Headquarters, Twelfth Air Force was activated on Ramstein Air Base, having moved from its joint facilities with HQ USAFE at Wiesbaden AB. What was not generally known at the time, and not made public until after the end of the Cold War in 1993 was the desire to have HQ Twelfth Air Force in close proximity to the Air Defense Operations Center (ADOC) - Kindsbach, AKA 'Kindsbach Cave' - the site of NATO’s underground combat operations center.

The 86th Air Base Group was activated as the main base support unit for Landstuhl, while the 7030th HQ Support Group was the main base support unit for Ramstein. On 1 December 1957, the two bases were consolidated into the largest NATO-controlled air base in service on the continent. It was called Ramstein-Landstuhl Air Base, but later, through common usage, came by its present name, Ramstein Air Base in 1958.

One legacy of the two separate air bases was that the north side of Ramstein retained a separate APO from the south side. The north side (Ramstein AB) was APO New York 09012, while the south side (Landstuhl AB) was APO New York 09009. Also separate Combat Support Groups, the 7030th for the north side, and the 86th for the south side existed. These were consolidated in the 1980s when APO AE 09094 was established as a unified postal address, and the two Combat Support units were merged into the 377th Combat Support Wing.

From its inception, Ramstein was designed as a NATO command base. In 1957, Ramstein provided support for NATO's HQ Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force, which moved to Ramstein from Trier Air Base on 10 November 1957 upon the closure of that facility. Also on that date, HQ Twelfth Air Force was transferred to Bergstrom Air Force Base, Texas and was assigned to Tactical Air Command. It was replaced by an advanced echelon of HQ USAFE. HQ Seventeenth Air Force, in turn, replaced HQ USAFE at Ramstein on 15 November 1959.

On 31 January 1973, several headquarters were relocated into and out of Ramstein, when Seventeenth AF moved to Sembach Air Base to make room for the expected move of HQ USAFE to Ramstein. This entire operation, code-named Creek Action, was carried out as part of the USAF's new world-wide policy of locating the most vital headquarters in thinly populated rural areas rather than near cities.

Allied Air Forces Central Europe was established at Ramstein on 28 June 1974. Ramstein subsequently provided support for other headquarters, including the 322nd Airlift Division which arrived on 23 June 1978, and SAC's 7th Air Division, which arrived on 1 July 1978.

In December 1980, HQ Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force was moved from Ramstein to Heidelberg and co-located with HQ Central Army Group.