Rank: No. 4
Nuclear Warheads: 1350
AIR FORCE BASE
NEVADA ranks 4th in number of nuclear warheads deployed, a significant rise
from 14th in 1992 and 17th in 1985. Nellis AFB, north of Las Vegas, serves
as one of two main Air Force nuclear weapons general depots in the United
States (the other is at
Kirtland AFB in New Mexico).
Nuclear weapons are stored at the Nellis Area 2 (formerly Lake Mead Base)
at a remote section of the Nellis complex. They are overseen by the 896th
Munitions Squadron (formerly the 3096th Aviation Depot Squadron), a unit
of the Air Force Materiel Command, though the nuclear facility is operated
jointly for the AFMC and the Air Combat Command. It is estimated that 775
gravity bombs are in storage at Nellis, including 175 B61-7 and 600 B61-3/4/10
types. Most of these bombs have been withdrawn from retired B-52 bomber bases
or from Europe. In addition, a portion of the surplus air-launched cruise
missile warhead stock is estimated to be stationed at Nellis, made up of
575 W80 ALCMs.
The nuclear weapons storage area (WSA) at Nellis was initially constructed
by the AEC between 1953 and 1955 as one of 13 original facilities built for
storage, maintenance, and operational readiness of the nuclear stockpile.
This storage area was originally separate from Nellis AFB and known as Lake
Mead Base. Jointly operated by the AEC, the Armed Forces Special Weapons
Project, and the U.S. Navy, the first weapons arrived at Lake Mead in 1955.
The original complex included up to 10 storage buildings with vaults
(A structures), a maintenance building (C structure),
two other assembly/maintenance buildings, storage igloos, and a dry low-level
radioactive waste disposal area. An emergency holding tank was connected
the C structure. Area 2 became part of the main base in September
1969. Today, the 896th operates the largest U.S. above-ground munitions storage
facility in the world.
The 896th Squadron received the USAF Nuclear Surety Plaque for 1993 for
distinguished performance. The Squadron and the sister 554th
Security Police Squadron again received Nuclear Surety Plaques in 1995 for
outstanding achievements and contributions to nuclear
They had an NSI from February 9-22, 1997. The 896th is scheduled to receive
its next NSI on July 27, 1998. Air Combat Command conducted Nuclear Staff
Assistance Visits (NSAVs) at Nellis in May 1994, March 1995, and June 1996,
focusing on nuclear bomb delivery training at the Air Warfare Center and
certification of the 57th Wings F-15 and F-16 aircraft.