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18 June 2002
Source of maps and photos: (color) and TerraServer USGS 16 Jul 1995 (monochrome).

Fairchild Air Force Base:

From the report Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998, by William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris and Joshua Handler, published in March 1998 by the Natural Resources Defence Council.


Rank: No. 3

Nuclear Warheads: 1685


WASHINGTON ranks 3rd in number of nuclear warheads deployed and has two nuclear storage sites—the Naval Submarine Base Bangor and Fairchild AFB in Airway Heights.

Fairchild AFB was one of the first bases to receive nuclear weapons in the early days of the Cold War. The nuclear weapons storage area (WSA) at Fairchild was initially constructed by the AEC between 1950 and 1952 as one of 13 original facilities built for storage, maintenance, and operational readiness of the nuclear stockpile. The storage area was originally separate from Fairchild AFB and known as Deep Creek Air Force Station (AFS). The complex originally included two storage buildings with vaults (“A” structures), a maintenance building (“C” structure), two other assembly/maintenance buildings, two types of storage igloos, and a dry low-level radioactive waste disposal area.

In the early 1990s during a time of base closings, consolidations, and reorganization of commands Fairchild lost its B-52s but not its nuclear weapons. The B-52s of the 92d Bomb Wing were reassigned to other units beginning in December 1993. The last bomber left on May 25, 1994. In July 1994 the 92d Bomb Wing became the 92d Air Refueling Wing, assigned to Air Mobility Command (AMC).

The 92d Air Refueling Wing has an odd status, fully nuclear certified and operating a Weapons Storage Area (WSA) even though bombers have left the base. The 92nd Wing received the 1995 Safety Office of the Year Award, recognizing the “Excellent” rating in the first-ever combined AMC/ ACC Nuclear Surety Inspection conducted during March 1995. Air Combat Command conducted Nuclear Staff Assistance Visits (NSAVs) at Fairchild in July 1993, October 1994, and March 1996.

The Weapon Storage Area is being used to store the bomber weapons that are part of the “hedge” and/or reserve stockpile. The START II Treaty requires that, “Each Party shall locate storage areas for heavy bomber nuclear armaments no less than 100 kilometers from any air base where heavy bombers reoriented to a conventional role are based.” (Article IV, Section 10) The Treaty does permit bombers reoriented to a conventional role to be returned to a nuclear role. The weapons at Fairchild seems to be for such a future contingency.



Fairchild WSA Coordinates:

47N 36' 24", 117W 38' 19"

5,272,800.0, 452,000.0