Air Force Bases

History of Ogden Air Logistics Center at Hill AFB, Utah

Based at Hill AFB, this component of the Air Materiel Command and its successor Air Force Logistics Command played crucial program management roles for several missile systems. Ogden's significant role was made possible by an April 1, 1955, transfer of the adjacent Army Ogden Arsenal to Air Force jurisdiction. The acquisition of some 631 additional buildings and nearly 3,500 additional acres positioned Ogden as the central point for Air Force air munitions.

Even before this "merger," Ogden had been involved with emerging missile weaponry. In September 1952, Ogden began supporting the SM-62 Snark program and later became the prime maintenance depot for this long-range missile. On May 5, 1954, the Air Materiel Command assigned Ogden to be the prime maintenance depot for the GAM-67 "Crossbow" air-to-ground missile designed to knock out enemy radars. Budget cuts led to the demise of this weapon and Ogden's responsibility for it ceased in April 1957.

With its increased capacity following the acquisition of the arsenal, Ogden became the prime maintenance manager for the MB-1 Genie nuclear defense rocket, which entered Air Defense Commands inventory in 1957. Designed to be launched from fighter aircraft into enemy bomber formations, the Genie's nuclear warhead made near misses fatal.

By the close of 1956, Ogden's air munitions mission included assigned ammunition and explosive materiel surveillance, safety, and disposal functions. In addition, Odgen conducted and supervised the training of other commands having responsibility to store, handle, transport, escort, inspect, renovate, and dispose of Air Force ammunition (excluding nuclear), including biological and chemical munitions in consonance with USAF operational and logistical concepts.

On June 4, 1957, Air Materiel Command reorganized program management responsibilities for its subordinate commands. Ogden then took over the SM-64 Navaho missile from the Sacramento Air Materiel Area. However, this responsibility quickly ended when the Air Force canceled the program on June 12. Ogden also became responsible for the Bull Goose decoy missile from Middletown Air Materiel Area and transferred program management on the GAM-72 Quail to the Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area. Ogden had picked up the "Green Quail" decoy missile program back in March 1956. Ogden held on to the Goose until the program's cancellation in December 1958.

The reorganization transferred from Oklahoma City Air Materiel Area a very high profile program: the IM-99 BOMARC. Ogden was assigned in 1956 as the prime maintenance and supply depot for Marquardt Aircraft Company products that were to be locally manufactured. The selection of Ogden as BOMARC manager was logical, therefore, as this air defense missile used Marquardt-produced ramjets.

Located on the outskirts of Ogden, the ramjet plant was dedicated on June 3, 1957. Two months later, construction began at a site 15 miles west of Ogden at Little Mountain on the Air Force-Marquardt Jet Laboratory. Dedicated on October 5, 1959, the $14 million Air Force-owned facility initially employed 175 Marquardt personnel to test RJ-43 engines at simulated altitudes in excess of 100,000 feet. This facility was used long after final BOMARC production. In 1970, Little Mountain was selected to house highly specialized Minuteman testing equipment, including a 15 million electron volt X-ray machine, a cutting machine for solid propellants, and nuclear environment simulators. Additional evaluation facilities at Little Mountain were built in the 1980s to test the "small" ICBM and new Peacekeeper missiles.

With the Boeing-produced BOMARC entering the Air Defense Command inventory, Ogden began receiving missiles for maintenance work. To support BOMARC, Ogden dedicated 26 buildings along with scores of special testing structures. Building 1915 in zone 19 in the west area received an extensive refit to accommodate ramjet overhaul work.

One program unaffected by the Air Materiel Command (AMC) reorganization was Ogden's management of the SM-62 Snark program. Ogden's support for this system increased on July 1, 1960, when the command received full executive management responsibility for the Snark. Although the program was canceled a year later, the invaluable experience prepared Ogden to take charge of a longer-term program.

On January 6, 1959, the Air Force named Ogden as the single assembly and recycling point for the SM-80 Minuteman ICBM program. Events leading to this milestone began with the decision of the Thiokol Chemical Company to construct a solid-propellant rocket plant 27 miles west of Brigham City. With this facility operational in late 1957, Thiokol had positioned itself to produce first-stage rocket motors for the new ICBM. When the contract came, construction of Air Force Plant 78 at the Thiokol complex gave Thiokol the capacity to mass produce the rocket motors. Meanwhile another solid-propellant producer expanded facilities at Bacchus located west of Salt Lake City. The Hercules Powder Company started work on a new solid-propellant plant in March 1958. By mid-year, both Thiokol and Hercules had research and development contracts for the Minuteman. In October 1958, the Air Force selected Boeing Airplane Company to be the prime contractor to integrate and assemble the systems developed by such subcontractors as Thiokol and Hercules.

With Utah's growing aerospace industrial base and OOAMA's experience, Ogden's commander successfully petitioned in April 1958 to have his installation designated as the logistic support facility for the new ICBM.

Having acquired responsibility for Minuteman, OOAMA set up the SM-80 Weapon System Management Division, which moved to Building 1245 in the west area in January 1960. This location placed the management division close to Boeing's Minuteman assembly facility at Air Force Plant 77. Construction of this plant began in September 1960. Nine missile assembly buildings were constructed and some 40 buildings were dedicated for rocket motor storage and support. Here Boeing assembled all of the components into missiles ready for launch site deployment.

One of the more unusual experiments at Ogden during 1960 was the mobile Minuteman project. The project swung into high gear in June 1960, as Hill AFB became home base for "Operation Big Star," a series of tests to determine the feasibility of deploying Minuteman ICBMs on railroad car launchers. A modified test train traveled across western and central states to test how communication, control, and human factors could affect such an operation. In August, after the return of the fourth test train, the Air Force declared that the tests had been satisfactorily completed. Anticipating a possible go-ahead with the project, the Air Force activated the 4062 Strategic Missile Wing on December 1, 1960. However, a year later, Defense Secretary McNamara canceled the program.

As the missile production plant neared completion, in 1961 construction began on a series of facilities for disassembly, overhaul, and reassembly work. The new maintenance complex included a Missile Engineering Surveillance Facility, otherwise known as the Aging Laboratory designed to duplicate silo environmental conditions. A Radiographic Inspection Laboratory x-rayed motors to determine if there were cracks in the solid-fuel propellant. In addition, the maintenance facilities housed clean rooms for missile guidance systems calibration and modification work.

The first production Minuteman rolled off the assembly line at Air Force Plant 77 on April 12, 1962. By March 1964, 500 Minuteman missiles had been built; the last Minuteman I came off the assembly line in May 1965. Boeing continued production with Minuteman II and, in 1968, began building the Minuteman III.

Minuteman was just one of several missile systems that kept Ogden personnel busy in the 1960s. A second strategic missile program designated the WS-138A or GAM-87 and called the Skybolt came to Ogden in July 1959. The l,OOO-mile range Skybolt was designed as an air-launched ballistic missile to replace the GAM-63 Rascal air-to-surface missile and serve as a follow-on to the 500-mile range GAM-77 Hound Dog missile. In the ongoing service rivalry for the strategic mission, Skybolt served as an Air Force trump card. Chief of Staff Thomas D. White claimed that the missile gave bombers a flexibility that outmatched missiles launched from submarines. The importance of the program increased again when, in June 1960, the United States agreed to provide the missile to Great Britain. Unfortunately, test failures unfavorably impressed new Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and the program was canceled in December 1961. As compensation for its lost investment in the system, the British eventually received Polaris submarine-launched missiles.

The mid-1960s closures of depots at Rome, New York, San Bernardino, California; Middletown, Pennsylvania; and Mobile, Alabama ensured growth at Ogden, as 5,000 positions came to the Utah facility

In 1966, a $12.5 million Minuteman Engineering and Test Facility was dedicated at Hill AFB, which consisted of a launch control facility and a silo. Another facility of this type was built at Ogden in the late 1970s.

In 1968, Ogden became the manager for the air-to-ground Maverick missile. More significantly, in 1973 the center took charge of source and repair responsibility for the strategic Air-Launched Cruise Missile.

In 1974, the command was redesignated the Ogden Air Logistics Center (ALC).

In the 197Os, additional missile management responsibilities were transferred to Ogden for the Peacekeeper MX and for such short-range missiles as the Sidewinder and Short-Range Attack Missile. By 1980, Ogden ALC served as the logistics system program manager for the soon-to-be decommissioned Titan II fleet as well as Minuteman II and III, Peacekeeper, and the proposed Midgetman ICBM. As Titan II program manager, Ogden ALC oversaw Project Rivet Cap-the deactivation of the three Titan II missile wings. With deactivation, Ogden's involvement with the Titan II program ended on September 30,1987. As Peacekeeper entered the inventory during the late 1980s Ogden ALC oversaw numerous modernization programs to improve the reliability and survivability of the deployed Minuteman forces. One such program initiated in 1985 was the Minuteman Integrated Life Extension (Project Rivet MILE), which upgraded missile silos and launch control facilities.

Ogden also continued to have responsibility for BOMARC drones and the remaining BOMARC B missiles not reconfigured for target duties. In 1985, the Air Force directed Ogden to dispose of the remaining 48 BOMARC airframes.