Latitude: 32° 52' 59" N Longitude: 13° 16' 0" E
Area use / Military Branches: Joint mil/civ airfield
Mitiga Intl Airport; former USAF Wheelus airbase (1943-1970).
In 1969 King Idris I was overthrown by Muammar al-Gaddafi who demanded that Wheelus airbase, which he saw as a vestige of colonialism, be closed and its facilities turned over to the Libyan government. The U.S. wished to retain Wheelus Air Base, the strategic value of the facility had declined with the development of nuclear missiles that had effectively replaced many bomber bases. Indeed, Wheelus had primarily served as a tactical fighter training facility in the 1960s. Wheelus base agreement had just 2 more years to run and in 1969, the U.S. agreed to vacate the facility in 1970.
Following U.S. withdrawal the base was renamed Okba Ben Nafi Airfield and went into use by the Soviet Union with the HQ for the Libyan Air Force. The base was bombed by the USAF in 1986 during Operation El Dorado Canyon; rebuilt and subsequently renamed Mitiga airfield.
Currently it is a joint mil/civ airfield.
Former USAF units stationed here:
- Military Air Transport Service activated 1603rd Air Transport Wing at Wheelus in 1948 and operated the base transport control center until 1952
- HQ 7th Air Rescue Group was assigned to Wheelus along with the 58th Air Rescue Sqn at about this time.
- 58th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron (ARRS) operated out of Wheelus until 1970 when they were relocated to 67th ARRSQ in the UK
- Strategic Air Command units operated from Wheelus as of 1950 until 1970 with B-50s, B-36s, B-47s and support aircraft
-1203 Air Defence Sqn (MiG-23 Flogger)
-1276 Airlift Sqn (Il-76 Candid)
Mig-23 Flogger data:
Il-76 Candid data:
|August, 31st of 2004||Mitiga -> Guantanamo|
|August, 30th of 2005||Mallorca -> Mitiga, Lybia|
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