Kusan Air Base, South Korea
Origin of current name: Named after a town in the Republic of Korea.
Date current name was assigned to base: November 1, 1950
Previous Names: Kunsan AB, K-8, 1946.
Date Established: January 1, 1946
Date Occupied: May 1, 1951
Construction Began: January 1, 1938
Base Units: 27th AB Gp, 1 Apr 1951; 931st Engr Avn Gp, May 1951; 3d AB Gp, 25 Aug 1951; 6170th AB Gp, 1 Sep 1954; 6170th AB Sq, 8 Apr 1956; 6175th AB Gp, 25 Mar 1959; 354th Cmbt Spt Gp, 1 Aug 1968; 6175th AB Gp, 15 Jun 1970; 3d Cmbt Spt Gp, 15 Mar 1971; 8th Cmbt Spt Gp, 16 Sep 1974-.
Changes in Capability: North Korean troops occupied base 13 July-October 1950; 5,000-ft runway (later lengthened to 9,000 ft), taxiways, parking apron constructed Jul 1951; completion of basic facilities to accommodate an entire B-26 bomb wing and a USMC aviation squadron completed Apr 1952; F-84 operations began July-August 1952; flying operations sharply curtailed after wind down of Korean conflict in the spring of 1954; base accommodated periodic rotation of fighter and light bomber squadrons during mid-1950s; upgrading of taxiways and construction of dormitories undertaken in 1957-1958; base hosted a U.S. Army Hawk missile battalion and a Korean AF F-86 squadron, and served as recurrent "safe haven" for typhoon-evacuated C-130s from Okinawa and Guam, 1965-1968; dispensary completed 7 May 1966; base population rose sharply and a command post established in wake of USS Pueblo crisis, spring 1968; POL pipe line, connectingbase with sea completed Apr 1968; additional revetments, bunkers, arresting barriers constructed and flight facilities updated, mid-1968; C-130s flying ECM missions along Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ) accommodated 1968-1969; plans for wind down of operational activities reversed when F-4s arrived from Japan, temporarily bolstering base's F-100 force, after a North Korean aircraft downed an EC-121 on 15 Apr 1969; host organization changed from F-100s to F-4s, 1969-1970; extensive runway rehabilitation began after reduction of flying activities in spring 1971; base population rose sharply preparatory to the arrival of an entire TAC fighter wing in Mar 1971; arrival of 3d Tac Ftr Wg provided Kunsan with greater USAF strike force in Apr 1971; extensive dormitory upgrading program completed and new accounting and finance building occupied Mar 1978; barrier ramp and concrete surfaces upgraded, passenger terminal enlarged mid-1979; elaborate bomb loading facility completed fall 1980; improved fuel storage facility in progress mid-1981; field readied to accommodate F-16s Sep 1981.
Changes in Status: U.S./Korean "acquisition agreement" of 1953 established USAF's right to operate the base.
Originally built by the Japanese as a fighter-interceptor base in 1938, Kunsan became the home of the U.S. Military Assistance Advisory Group in Korea at the end of World War II. In 1949, U.S. forces left Korea, turning the base over to the then-fledgling Republic of Korea Air Force.
In July 1950, at the outset of the Korean Conflict, North Korean forces occupied Kunsan Air Base. The U.S. Army’s 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry recaptured the base and Kunsan City on Sept. 30, 1950. In April 1951, the 27th Air Base Group became the first Air Force unit assigned to the base. The group oversaw the base’s rehabilitation. The Army’s 808th Engineer Aviation Battalion built a 5,000-foot runway to replace the sod runway build by the Japanese. The 3rd Bombardment Wing moved to the base Aug. 22, 1951, as Kunsan’s first assigned aircraft wing.
Following the 3rd Bombardment Wing’s return to Japan at the end of the Korean Conflict, Kunsan became the home to several Air Force units. The 6170th Air Base Group and the 6170th Air Base Squadron operated and maintained the base from 1954 to 1968. From 1968 to 1970, the 354th and later the 54th Tactical Fighter Wing ran the base. The 6175th assumed responsibility for the installation in the mid-1970s until the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing returned to Kunsan in March 1971. In September 1974, the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing was assigned to Kunsan Air Base. As a part of an Air Force-wide reorganization, the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing was re-designated the 8th Fighter Wing on Feb. 3, 1992.