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First Air Force (Air Forces Northern)



With its headquarters at Tyndall Air Force Base in the community of Panama City, Fla., Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region - First Air Force (Air Forces Northern) is one of eight Numbered Air Forces assigned to Air Combat Command.

It has sole responsibility for ensuring the air sovereignty and air defense of the continental United States, U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. As the Continental U.S. Region (CONR) for NORAD, the bi-national North American Aerospace Defense Command, CONR provides air defense in the form of airspace surveillance and airspace control.

CONR - 1 AF (AFNORTH) is also the designated air component command for U.S. Northern Command.

USNORTHCOM's area of responsibility includes the continental United States, Alaska, Canada and Mexico, and its air, land and maritime approaches.

As the USNORTHCOM air component, AFNORTH is the senior agency in the United States Theater Air Control System (USTACS) and is specifically responsible for the land areas of the continental United States, U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the surrounding seas out to approximately 500 nautical miles. When tasked, it conducts homeland defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) operations in the USNORTHCOM area of responsibility. The CONR - 1 AF (AFNORTH) DSCA mission is the use of air assets to reduce losses from natural disasters; support local, state, regional, and federal emergency service agencies; and protect the American people and their way of life.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, CONR - 1 AF (AFNORTH) has been the lead agency for Operation Noble Eagle in the Continental United States. Its continuing mission is to protect the United States from terrorist air attack from inside or outside the contiguous United States. First Air Force accomplishes this task by providing surveillance and command and control for air defense forces 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

CONR - 1 AF (AFNORTH) units include the 601st Air and Space Air Operations Center, known as "America's AOC," and the 702nd Computer Support Squadron at Tyndall. CONR is further divided into two air defense sectors; the Eastern Air Defense Sector in Rome, N.Y., and the Western Air Defense Sector at McChord AFB, Wash., and also includes nine aligned Air National Guard fighter wings. The best of USAF's aircraft inventory, the F-22 Raptor, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon and the E-3 Sentry are some of the weapons systems used in this mission.

CONR - 1 AF (AFNORTH) rapidly responds to non-military threats. Under our Defense Support of Civil Authorities mission, the organization assists civilian agencies before and during emergencies, natural or man-made disasters and other DoD-approved activities. This role provides the ability to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance where and when it is needed most in the U.S.

Operating with the 601st Air and Space Operations Center, the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center serves as the U.S. search and rescue coordinator and is the single agency responsible for coordinating land-based Federal searches. These search and rescue operations can be conducted anywhere in the 48 states, Mexico and Canada. The AFRCC has direct ties to the Federal Aviation Administration's alerting system and the U.S. Mission Control Center. Since its inception in 1974, the center has recorded more than 14,000 saves (get updated number). The Civil Air Patrol, flying as the USAF Auxiliary, is a significant partner in search and rescue and other DSCA missions.

First Air Force has been an Air Combat Command organization since June 1, 1992. Its subordinate units are located throughout the continental United States.

Personnel and Resources
CONR - 1 AF (AFNORTH) is a "Total Force" organization. Nearly 2,300 active-duty members, Guardsmen, Reservists, civilians and contractors make up the First Air Force work force in the USTACS. When mobilized, the USTACS population swells to more than 11,000 members. In total, First Air Force-gained units operate more than 180 aircraft. As many as 30 ANG fighter wings reported to this Numbered Air Force during the early months of Operation Noble Eagle.

One of the four original Numbered Air Forces, First Air Force was activated as the Northeast Air District on Dec. 18, 1940, at Mitchel Field, Long Island, N.Y. It was redesignated First Air Force on April 9, 1941.

In the first months of World War II, First Air Force was responsible for the air defense of the eastern seaboard of the United States. In January 1942, the command commenced shore-based anti-submarine operations flying Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortresses" from Langley Field, Va. Later that year, First Air Force turned to the task of training combat aircrews for immediate deployment to overseas theaters.

At the end of World War II, First Air Force was tasked with the air defense of the Northeast. It continued in the training role (primarily with the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve) until its inactivation on June 23, 1958.

First Air Force was reactivated at Stewart Air Force Base, Newburgh, N.Y., on Jan. 20, 1966. During this period, the unit was charged with the air defense of the northeastern United States, Greenland, Iceland and parts of Canada. By July 1968, First Air Force had again assumed total responsibility for the air defense of the eastern seaboard, just as it had during World War II. Its second period of service was short-lived, however, and the unit was inactivated as the result of an air defense reorganization on Dec. 31, 1969.

On Dec. 6, 1985, the Air Force reactivated the historic First Air Force at Langley Air Force Base, Va., and assigned it to Tactical Air Command. Since that time, its mission has been to provide air defense for the United States and Canada through NORAD and since the 9-11 attack, to provide command and control for Operation Noble Eagle.

When reactivated, in 1985, First Air Force was composed of units of the active Air Force and the Air National Guard. During the period 1994 through 1997, CONR - 1 AF (AFNORTH) shifted its operations to the Air National Guard (ANG) and in October of 1997 became the only Component Numbered Air Force (C-NAF) whose force structure is primarily ANG.

Because of its unique mission and its binational responsibilities, First Air Force works closely with the Canadian Forces. Canadian personnel are stationed at First Air Force Headquarters at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and at the two regional air defense sectors located in the United States.

Activation of CONR on Oct. 1, 1986, resulted in a new structure for the 30-year-old, binational NORAD. Although the U.S. Air Force had already deactivated its Aerospace Defense Command, the continental U.S. region, along with Alaskan and Canadian regions, provided an improved command and operational system for North American air defense.

Today, CONR - 1 AF (AFNORTH) consists of members of the active duty Air Force, Air Force Reserve, and Air National Guard.

Point of Contact
First Air Force, Office of Public Affairs; 1210 Beacon Beach Road, Tyndall AFB, Fla. 32403-5549; DSN 523-8080 or (850) 283-8080.

Current as of: Oct. 20, 2021