Kirtland Air Force Base in Bernalillo on map

Map of countries of the WORLD

US military bases on map

Kirtland Air Force Base in Bernalillo, NM New Mexico Military Bases


Located in the southern part of Albuquerque, Kirtland AFB is adjacent to the international sunport in the area. It is run by the Air Force and located somehow in the central part of New Mexico. It spreads over 209 square km, meaning it is the largest military installation in the Materiel Command. It hosts over 23000 citizens, including active military troops, family members, employed civilians, reserve part time members and National Guard workers. The primary objective of this base is to support any nuclear mission in safety measures, regardless of its purpose. It was named in the memory of Roy C. Kirtland. At the same time, the military base shares the same runways with the international airport nearby.


The history of this base dates back to 1939, when some land was leased close to Albuquerque, next to the already existing airport. The general idea was to come up with a training facility for the military troops. The construction began at the beginning of 1941 and was finished during the same year. The first unit joined the base in the spring of 1942 – B 18 Bolo. Later that year, over 2000 B 17 Flying Fortress trainees joined. Over 5000 bombardiers were trained during World War II for planes like B 29, B 17 and B 24. After World War II ended, the base went under the jurisdiction of the Air Materiel Command. The training sessions were ceased, as the general objective changed. The new base was now supposed to modify the existing aircrafts in order to support various weapons, including nuclear armament. The first aircraft to be modified this way was the Convair B 36. A major plane crash from 1950 marked the black history of Kirtland AFB, when a plane with 13 members and some nuclear weapons crashed close to the base. The fire was visible for over 20 km. Fortunately, the nuclear weapons didn’t detonate.

The current name was given in 1942, after the base was initially established as the Albuquerque Army Air Base. Other than that, the base performed essential tests and operations during the upcoming conflicts from Vietnam, Korea or the Middle East. Besides, the hosting units changed on a regular basis, causing a lot of confusion in the future of the base.


The two most important hosting units at Kirtland AFB are the 377-th Air Base Wing and the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, established in 2006. The 377-th Air Base Wing was activated in 1993. Some other units on site include the 498-th Nuclear Systems Wing, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Operationally Responsive Space. There are plenty of tenant units as well, not to mention about over 30 mission partners temporarily hosted in the base.


When looking after housing opportunities at Kirtland AFB, it is very important to start early. Your application will take months to proceed. Meanwhile, you can rely on a hotel or an inn, or you can just go for the privatized off site system, which is normally more expensive.