Air forces need to be on alert constantly when and where the action happens. Island air bases have proved a great station to get your aircraft to where you need them, when you need them and this proved a lot in the Pacific island fighting of the second world war. However these can be a large problem for staff due to the sheer isolation of your location. Many come from islands colonised by European countries during the time of their large empires. These ones look like they could be the destination of a relaxing beach holiday, but actually they hold some of the worlds deadliest machines…
5. Ascension Island Air Force Base
Situated in the middle of the southern Atlantic ocean between the west coast of Africa and Brazil, this large air force base used to be the fastest link between the British Colony of St. Helena and London. The RAF would have the St. Helenians take a ferry to RAF Ascension Island where they would fly to the capital. This all changed after the construction of St. Helena airport in 2017. Today, this airforce base remains a large hub for military cargo aircraft like the C 17-Globemaster.
4. RAF Gan
This stunning UK air force base is located in the Maldives, the Indian ocean. It was first built for the Fleet Air Arm during the second world war and it was transferred over to the Royal Air force in 1957. It was a vital refueling point for RAF aircraft flying to Eastern and Southern Asia at a time when Britain still held some of its empire. It was then handed back to the Maldivian government and has since been turned into a civil airport, known as Gan International Airport, and a holiday resort. You can imagine that the Royal Air Force must be annoyed because one of their coolest bases got turned into a place where families go on holiday.
3. Kindley Air Force Base
As shown in the cover image, Kindley Air Force Base is a former USAF base in Bermuda. It was mainly used during world war 2 (as with most island air force bases) and was given to President Roosevelt by British Prime minister Winston Churchill in exchange for some Ex-US Navy destroyers. It has since been the base for US activity during the cold war and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
2. Anderson Air Force base
Technically located in the US, Anderson Air Force Base is on the Island of Guam in the Pacific Ocean. It has been a key hub for the US Air Force and has seen planes such as B-52 Flying Fortress’ and B2 Spirit Bombers. This has come to play in almost all of America’s wars in the east, like WWII, Vietnam and Korea. It was also used as a gateway to the East of the Soviet Union during the cold war. In late October 2020, Virgin Orbit questioned launching from the base.
1. Diego Garcia
This beautiful base was founded in the 16th century by Spanish explorer Diego García de Moguer (he was clearly very inventive with the name) but was first populated by the French. Then, due to the defeat of Napoleon, the British took over and eventually placed a flying boat air force base there around 1942 due to it’s great shape allowing plenty of space for flying boats. It was then that the UK government agreed to let the Americans use it in 1971 and a runway was built. Many heavy stealth bombers have visited the island on route to Iraq and Afghanistan ever since. However, this island comes with a sad story as the islanders were forced to leave their homes to make way for the base and have still not been allowed to return.
- “The Big Book of flight” by Rowland White
- wikipedia.com (Cover Photo)