Spangdahlem Air Base

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Spangdahlem Air Base
Image requested
Type Military
Owner U.S. Air Force
City Spangdahlem, Trier, Germany
Runway Length Material
05/23 10,007 ft (3,050 m) Asphalt
Scenery tile e006n49
TerraSync No

Spangdahlem Air Base is a U.S. Air Force base constructed between 1951 and 1953 and located near the small German town of Spangdahlem This is a link to a Wikipedia article, approximately 30 km NNE of the city of Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate. It is home of the 52nd Fighter Wing, which maintains, deploys and employs Lockheed Martin Block 50 F-16CJ. In total, 4,800 military personnel, 840 German nationals and 200 US contractors are working at the base.


With the creation of NATO in response to Cold War tensions in Europe, USAFE wanted its vulnerable fighter units in West Germany moved west of the Rhein River to provide greater air defense warning time. France agreed to air base sites within its zone of occupation in the Rheinland-Palatinate. Spangdahlem base was constructed between 1951 and 1953 at a cost of roughly $27,000,000 using French and German contractors, working under the supervision of a French government agency. The initial USAF military presence began on 1 September 1952 with the arrival of the 7352d Air Base Squadron on 1 September 1952 from Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base near Munich. The mission of the 7532d ABS was to prepare the facility for an operational wing.

Many units were assigned along the years to Spangdahlem, such as the 10th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing and the 7149th/36th Tactical Fighter Wing with their aircrafts and roles but on the 31 December 1971 the 52d Tactical Fighter Wing was transferred without personnel or equipment from Suffolk County AFB, New York to Spangdahlem. The unit had been a sort of personal National Guard wing for top WW2 P-47 ace Frank Grabeski. Inactivated then reactivated as a new USAFE wing, the new Wing Commander was to be the first black USAFE Wing CO Col Thomas E Clifford who had been 35th TFW DCO at Da Nang AB Viet Nam. Upon activation in Germany, the 52 TFW assumed control of the two squadrons the 36 TFW had located at Spangdahlem: 23d Tactical Fighter (F-4D, Tail Code: SP, blue tail stripe) and 39th Tactical Electronic Warfare (EB-66E/C, Tail Code: SP, yellow tail stripe).

During warm seasons in 1970 and 1971 operations shifted back to Bitburg while the runway was resurfaced at Spang. During this period the hardened NATO "TAB-V" shelters were constructed at both bases while operations around them continued. EB-66s were too large and remained parked around the ramp at the large hangar. End of runway alert aircraft F4s and EB-66's were under shelter for weather protection only. "V" or Victor Alert denoted nuclear forces from the British bombers Victor and Vulcan beginning with that letter. "E" Alert was for ECM. The 52 TFW gained its third fighter squadron with the activation of the 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 15 November 1976. On 1 January 1977, the 52 TFW had the following operational squadrons: 23d Tactical Fighter Squadron (F-4D w/ blue tail stripe, tail code: SP) "Fighting Hawks", 81st Tactical Fighter Squadron (EF-4C w/ yellow tail stripe, tail code: SP) "Wild Weasels" and 480th Tactical Fighter Squadron (F-4D w/ red tail stripe, tail code: SP) "Warhawks".

A complete reorganization of wing aircraft and aircrews occurred in November 1983, transforming the 52d TFW into the first and only all-defense suppression wing outside of the United States. Under this configuration, each of the wing’s three fighter squadrons flew E and G model F-4s paired together into Wild Weasel "hunter/killer" teams capable of locating and destroying enemy radar-guided, surface-to-air threats in all weather.

In April 1987, the 52d began changing with the times and replaced its aging Phantoms with Block 30/32 F-16C/D Fighting Falcons for the 23d and 480th TFSs. These were later replaced with Block 50 versions beginning in 1993. The last USAF operational model F-4E Phantom II aircraft departed Spangdahlem AB in December 1987.

On 1 October 1991, the 52 TFW was redesignated the 52d Fighter Wing as part of a sweeping, Air Force-wide restructure. The 510th Fighter Squadron was moved to Spangdahlem with the closure of RAF Bentwaters UK on 4 January 1993 as the lone A-10 Thunderbolt II squadron in USAFE. Also in early 1993, the 81st FS was reorganized to fly a mixture of F-4Gs and Block 30 F-16C/Ds. The F-4Gs were withdrawn and sent to AMARC in February 1994. With the withdrawal of the Phantoms, the 510th Fighter Squadron was replaced by the 81st FS at Spangdahlem AB and was transferred to Ramstein Air Base to absorb the F-16 assets of the 512th FS there.

In February 1994, the 53d Fighter Squadron relocated to Spangdahlem from Bitburg after its closure with F-15C/Ds. The 480 FS was also inactivated during October 1994, being replaced by the 22d Fighter Squadron from Bitburg. The 606th Air Control Squadron was also assigned to the 52d Fighter Wing but remained at Bitburg until September 1995 before moving to Spangdahlem. After the restructuring and the closure of Bitburg and transfer of 36 FW squadrons to Spangdahlem, the operational squadrons of the 52d Fighter Wing were: 23d Fighter (F-16CJ/D Blue tail stripe, Code: SP), 22d Fighter (F-16CJ/D Red tail stripe, Code: SP), 53d Fighter (F-15C/D Yellow and black tail stripe (Tiger stripes), Code: SP) and 81st Fighter (A/OA-10A Yellow tail stripe, Code: SP).

During the second quarter of Fiscal Year '99, the 52nd witnessed the inactivation of the 53rd Fighter Squadron. The 53d had called Spangdahlem Air Base home since February 1994 when the squadron moved from Bitburg AB. As the squadron prepared for its inactivation in March 1999, all of the F-15s were transferred to the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley AFB, Virginia (USA), or to the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, United Kingdom.

In April 2010, the wing's strength was reduced by one third. 20 F-16Cs from the 22nd Fighter Squadron were flown to the 148th Fighter Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard and one F-16 was transferred to Edwards Air Force Base, California. As a result of the drawdown of F-16s, the 22d and 23d Fighter Squadrons were inactivated on 13 August 2010 and formed a single "new" squadron, the 480th Fighter Squadron. In February 2012, it was announced that the 81st Fighter Squadron would be inactivated in 2013, leaving the 52d Fighter Wing with just one squadron.

On 8 January 2015 the U.S. Secretary of Defense announced the results of the European Infrastructure Consolidation (EIC) review, which will realign several missions in USAFE and AFAFRICA. Under the EIC, the DoD will make changes to the mission at Spangdahlem Air Base, including the relocation of the 606th Air Control Squadron to Aviano Air Base, Italy, in order to free up requisite space and infrastructure for future inclusion of the 352d Special Operations Group from RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom which is scheduled to be closed in 2022.

In February 2015, the 354th Fighter Squadron was deployed from Davis-Monthan AFB to Spang in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve with twelve A-10Cs and approximately 300 airmen. The unit will train alongside NATO allies and deploy to locations in Eastern European NATO nations to further enhance interoperability. The A-10s were the first of several theater security package deployments to Europe, U.S. Air Force officials said, adding that rotations generally will last six months, depending on mission and United States European Command requirements.

On 30 July 2015, it was announced that the 480th Fighter Squadron would deploy to Incirlik Air Base in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Recently, 4 F-22A Raptor from Tyndall AFB were deployed to Spangdahlem for the first time in Europe, in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Technical characteristics


The airport has only one runway (048°/228°), 3,050 m long and 45 m wide. Both runways 05 and 23 will have got two BAK-12 aircraft arresting systems for emergency landings and training in the beta version.


FGCom frequencies

(The following table takes into account some frequencies available only in the current development version.)

ATIS 143.425
TWR 122.200
GND 138.8
CLNC DEL 308.850


SPA 032X, 00 NM

Custom scenery

J Maverick 16 and IAHM-COL are currently redesigning the airport so that the scenery is as faithful as possible to the real air base. A first preview of the beta can be found on GitHub (work in progress).


The following table takes into account improvements available only in the current development version on GitHub.

Task Progress Remarks
Runway, beacon, PAPI, Tower Done Done
Taxiway layouts Done Done
Taxi signs 40}% completed For now there are only the most important ones, more have to be added.
Aprons Done Done
Buildings 20}% completed
Parking positions and ground net 70}% completed All the ground net is present, have to add the parking positions.
Comprehensive air base scenery 40}% completed

ATC services (USAF_SP)

ATC service is provided with OpenRadar regularly on Fridays, using also Mumble and FGCom - check Lenny's website for the exact times and dates, but usually on Friday evenings, . For further informations about ETAD, you can download the chart on the right, use SkyVector and GCMAP. To avoid pilot/ATC misunderstandings see the minimum list of best practices, and don't simulate an emergency or found an excuse to land/take-off from Spangdahlem only because it is controlled in that moment, especially for airliners (e.g. terrorists on board, engine faliture, passenger with cardiac arrest, President on board, very top secret mission, ...).

USAFE Livery Pack for F-16C and F-15C

J Maverick 16 and Gary Brown have created a some liveries for FGUK's F-16C and F-15C of the past and present U.S. Air Forces Europe aircrafts, containing Spangdahlem, Ramstein and RAF Lakenheath liveries. It can be found here.

External Links