Cannon timeline

Late 1920s — Portair Field, a civilian passenger facility, was established on the site. Portair, a terminal for early commercial transcontinental flights, flew passengers in the Ford Trimotor “Tin Goose” by day, and used Pullman trains for night travel. In the 1930s Portair was renamed Clovis Municipal Airport.

January 1943 — A glider detachment was the first military unit to use the facility. The 16th Bombardment Operational Wing, was a training unit for B-24, B-17 and then B-29 heavy bombers.

April 8, 1943 — The base was renamed Clovis Army Air Field. Flying, bombing, gunnery and photographic reconnaissance classes continued through the end of World War II.

Mid-1946 — The airfield was placed on reduced operational status and flying activities decreased. The installation was deactivated in May 1947.

July 1951 — The base was reactivated and assigned to Tactical Air Command. The first unit, the 140th Fighter Bomber Wing, arrived in October. Air National Guard elements from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming made up the 140th, which flew the P-51 “Mustang” fighter. The 140th formally reactivated the airfield on November 15, 1951, as Clovis Air Force Base.

January 1951 — The 50th Fighter Bomber Wing, another fighter unit, was activated at the base. The F-86 “Sabre” began arriving in early 1953. The 50th Fighter Bomber Wing served at the base until it was transferred overseas in August.

1952 — The 140th returned to Air National Guard control.

November 1953 — Clovis Air Force Base’s second F-86 unit, the 388th Fighter Bomber Wing, was activated. The 388th was sent overseas in October 1954.

1955 — The 312th Fighter Bomber Group replaced the 388th, bringing in F-84s before switching to F-86s.

December 1955 — The base became a major training installation for “Sabre” pilots. The 474th, was transferred to Clovis from Taegu, Korea. The first F-100 “Super-Sabre” arrived in December 1956. The F-100 became the principal aircraft at the base for the next 12 years.

June 1957 — The base was renamed Cannon Air Force Base in honor of the late General John K. Cannon, a former commander of Tactical Air Command.

October 1957 — The 312th and 474th Fighter Bomber Groups were redesignated tactical fighter wings. The 832nd Air Division was activated to oversee their activities.

1958 — Cannon F-100s and crews deployed to Taiwan during the Formosa Crisis. They also deployed to Turkey the same year.

1959 — The 312th was deactivated and replaced at Cannon by the 27th Tactical Fighter Wing. The 27th, another F-100 unit, transferred to Cannon from Bergstrom Air Force Base in Texas. Succeeding major deployments of Cannon’s F-100s took place during the 1961 Berlin Crisis and the 1962 Cuban Crisis.
Units from Cannon deployed the first F-100 squadron to Thailand in 1962-1963, and Vietnam in 1964. In 1965, other deployments to Thailand and Vietnam followed. The 474th Tactical Fighter Wing moved to Luke AFB in Arizona in September 1965.

December 1965 — The base’s mission changed to a replacement training unit. The 27th Tactical Fighter Wing became the largest such unit in TAC.

1969 — The wing received its first F-111E aircraft and in July 1972 the last operational Air Force F-100s were transferred to the Air National Guard. In mid-1972, the 27th completed conversion to the highly sophisticated F-111D, after ferrying the F-111Es to England. There were three operational fighter squadrons and one training squadron.
The 27th also trained forward air controllers and air liaison officers in AT-33s from 1968 to 1973.

January 1980 — The 481st Tactical Fighter Training Squadron was deactivated and the 524th Tactical Fighter Squadron was redesignated the 524th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron. That left the 27th with one training and two operational fighter squadrons.

Dec. 28, 1988 — Marked the beginning of Cannon’s expansion as a result of decisions made by the Secretary of Defense’s Commission on Base Realignment and Closures.

April 1, 1990 — The 428th Fighter Training Squadron was reactivated at Cannon Air Force Base as part of the installation’s expanding mission. With the reactivation of the 428th FTS, FB-111 aircraft from Strategic Air Command arrived at Cannon and were converted to F-111Gs. F-111Es replaced Cannon’s squadron of F-111Gs when they were retired.

June 1, 1992 — Cannon Air Force Base and the 27th Fighter Wing were integrated into Air Combat Command as part of the reorganization of Tactical Air Command and Strategic Air Command. Three squadrons of F-111Fs arrived from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England replacing Cannon’s fleet of F-111Ds in 1993. The 430th Electronic Combat Squadron’s 25 EF-111A Ravens began arriving from the 390th ECS, Mountain Home, Idaho, and the 42nd ECS, RAF Upper Heyford, England in May 1992. The 430th ECS was replaced by the 429th ECS in June 1993.

September 1995 — The first operational flight of the F-16 lifted off Cannon’s runway. Three fighter squadrons —522 FS, 523 FS, 524 FS — were fully equipped with F-16s by August 1996. Following a period of training, the first operational squadron was ready for combat operations around the world in January 1997. The wing also maintained its EF-111 mission as the only Raven unit in the Air Force.

June 1998 — The Air Force officially retired the EF-111A. As a result of the retirement, the 429th Electronic Combat Squadron was inactivated June 19, 1998.

September 1998 — The 428th Fighter Squadron was reactivated at Cannon Air Force Base. The Peace Carvin III squadron was a hybrid United States Air Force/Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16 Fighter Squadron manned by Air Force instructor pilots, maintenance and support personnel. With approximately 25 Air Force personnel and 140 Republic of Singapore Air Force personnel, the unit was responsible for continuation training of Singapore personnel in rapid deployment and tactical employment of the F-16 throughout a wide spectrum of missions including air-to-air, joint maritime and precision air-to-ground weapons delivery.

June 2005 — In its BRAC Recommendations, Department of Defense recommended to close Cannon Air Force Base. As a result, it would distribute the 27th Fighter Wing’s F-16s to several bases nationwide. DoD’s justification for closing Cannon was the Air Force’s overriding strategy to more effectively employ the shrinking Air Force structure by organizing its weapon systems into fewer, larger squadrons and by eliminating excess physical capacity.
The final decision was to realign Cannon Air Force Base by disestablishing the 27th Fighter Wing and distributing its aircraft. The Air Force established an enclave at Cannon Air Force Base to remain open until Dec. 31, 2009 during which time the Secretary of Defense was to seek other newly-identified missions with all military services for possible assignment to Cannon Air Force Base.

June 2006 — The Department of Defense and a New Mexico congressional delegation announced the decision to relocate the 16th Special Operations Wing to Cannon. The transition is expected to begin immediately and the Special Operations wing will take command Oct. 1, 2007.

October 2007 — Air Force Special Operations assumes ownership of Cannon Air Force Base. Col. Timothy Leahy becomes the first commander of the 27th Special Operations Wing.