Bitburg Air Base was part of the Base Realignment and Closure Act that saw the drawdown of many
military facilities. In September 1994, the U.S. controlled Bitburg Air Base was officially
closed and returned to the Federal Republic of Germany. The base was never expected to open again.
But, between June and September 1997 the need to repair the Spangdahlem Air Base runway, called
for a temporary location to accommodate the 52nd Fighter Wing's three squadrons of F-15s and F-16s.
The closed US Bitburg Air Base in Bitburg, Germany was the most logical place - only 10 miles down the road.
The job entailed resurrecting the former U.S. Air Force flightline and associated fuel tanks that
haven't seen multimillion dollar fighter aircraft in over three years. Since its closure, the Bitburg
runway has operated as a small commercial airport. It has seen enough flightline maintenance to
sufficiently host flying activities, but the fuel tanks had long been separated from the NATO Central
European Pipeline system.
A site survey conducted in November 1996 verified the air base would indeed be an ideal site to
temporarily support the three fighter squadrons from Spangdahlem. But there was work to be done.
The fuel tanks required more work than the flightline. An inspection done by the German Technical
Inspection Company approved the use of two 660,000-gallon capacity fuel tanks. Improvements to be
made included a splash guard dyke and oil water separators. With the approval in hand, everyone
worked feverishly to meet the June flying deadline.