Ali Al Salem Air Base (ICAO: OKAS) is a military airbase situated in Kuwait, approximately 23 miles from the Iraqi border. The airfield is owned by the Government of Kuwait, and during Operation Southern Watch and Operation Telic / Operation Iraqi Freedom hosted Royal Air Force (RAF), United States Air Force (USAF) and United States Marine Corps (USMC) personnel and aircraft. Since those operations, the base has been returned to the control of the Kuwaiti Government, with the USAF continuing to maintain a presence alongside their Kuwait Air Force counterparts. The principal USAF unit on base is the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing (386 AEW).
In 1990, the base was the first to be overrun by the Iraqi Military. Fighting at that initial battle lasted for less than thirty minutes as most of the Kuwaiti military chose to flee, rather than face almost certain defeat. A small number of Kuwaiti regulars, staff officers, and the base General stayed to fight. Upon discovery by the Iraqi military, the Kuwaiti General was hanged from the base flagpole by Iraqi troops. New flagpoles have since been installed, however as of December 2007, the original pole still stands. The remaining Kuwaiti military personnel were lined up outside the old Kuwaiti officers' club and shot. While no longer used, the building and bullet holes remain.
Prior to 1990, the French, under contract, built large reinforced concrete Hardened Aircraft Shelters (HAS) for the Kuwaiti Air Force. The French told the Kuwaitis that the structures were impenetrable. After Iraq took over the base, they moved the Kuwaiti aircraft and parked the Iraqi aircraft in the hangars. The French impenetrable claim turned out to be wrong when the US and allied forces, in the opening hours of desert storm, punched through the concrete bunkers. The Kuwaitis are still involved in legal suits over the "impenetrable clause of the contract". The French claim that they had no way of foreseeing that the US had invented bunker busters - some say that the French intended for the bunkers to protect against Soviet-procured Iraqi weapons. You can see one of the "HAS" bunkers and the destruction done by the bunker busters on this page.
The Kuwait Air Force Flight Training Center is located at Ali AlSalem AB and it is the home base of following squadrons:
The Royal Air Force operated out of AAS from late 1998, just before Operation Desert Fox. The RAF detachment consisted of various non-formed units, and a rotating Squadron of Panavia Tornado GR1As and later Tornado GR4s. The base was rapidly expanded in early 2003 to base the Joint Helicopter Command assets prior to start of Operation Telic, the British designation for the US designated Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During the war, the RAF amalgamated five Tornado GR4 Squadrons based at AAS to form the Ali Al Salem Combat Air Wing, commanded by Wing Commander Paddy Teakle OBE (OC 31 'Goldstars' Squadron). He was awarded the DSO for his leadership.
The RAF had relocated to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar by 2004, though some elements remained through 2008, and it serves as a backup and emergency strip for RAF operations.
The base currently hosts several military units besides the Kuwaiti Air Force. They include United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard, United States Air Force, United States Navy, United States Army,
The airport resides at an elevation of 472 feet (144 m) above mean sea level. It has two asphalt/concrete runways: 12R/30L measuring 2,989 by 45 metres (9,806 × 148 ft) and 12L/30R measuring 2,989 by 40 metres (9,806 × 131 ft).
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The content above was published at Airports-Worldwide.com in 2010.
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