RAF Mildenhall is named after the nearby town of Mildenhall, Suffolk. It was established as a Royal Air Force station in 1930, and opened in 1934. During World War II, RAF Bomber Command used the station for operational combat missions until 1945.
Placed on standby status after the war, it was reopened by the Royal Air Force and became a USAF-RAF joint operation base on 11 July 1950. Assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC) to station B-29 Superfortress bombers that date. It became a B-50 Superfortress base in 1952, and a B-47 Stratojet and KC-97 Stratofreighter base in 1953 until 1958.
Closed for runway repairs throughout 1958, the Military Air Transport Service transferred its main United Kingdom terminal to Mildenhall from RAF Burtonwood on 1 March 1959; and the airfield became 'The Gateway to the United Kingdom', for most U.S. military personnel and dependents arriving or departing the United Kingdom since.
Assigned from Strategic Air Command to United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) on 1 September 1959, and RAF relinquished joint operations status that date. Has been in continuous USAFE operation to present.
On 8 January 2015, the United States Department of Defense announced that operations at RAF Mildenhall would end (along with those at RAF Molesworth and RAF Alconbury), and be relocated to Germany (Spangdahlem Air Base) and also elsewhere within the UK.
On 18 January 2016, the British Ministry of Defence announced that the site is to be sold
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