AFMC celebrates 30 years of being ‘the command with answers’

Gen. Duke Richardson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, cuts the cake to commemorate the 30th anniversary of AFMC. The ceremony marking the history and heritage took place at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base July 11. Assisting the general (from left) is Wright-Patterson AFB’s longest serving civilian, Fred Bennett, and WPAFB’s most junior Airman, Airman 1st Class Robert Hernandez. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jerry Bynum)

Combined ShapeCaption
Gen. Duke Richardson, commander of Air Force Materiel Command, cuts the cake to commemorate the 30th anniversary of AFMC. The ceremony marking the history and heritage took place at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base July 11. Assisting the general (from left) is Wright-Patterson AFB’s longest serving civilian, Fred Bennett, and WPAFB’s most junior Airman, Airman 1st Class Robert Hernandez. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jerry Bynum)

AFMC controls a third of Air Force budget from Wright-Patterson

One of the Air Force’s most crucial commands is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

Air Force Materiel Command was borne of the merger of Air Force Logistics Command and Air Force Systems Command in July 1992, uniting an organization that today controls more than a third of the Air Force budget, shepherding planes, weapons and a host of other tangible goods from cradle to grave.

The command emerged after the end of the Cold War and Desert Storm, as the Air Force was shrinking, reinventing itself and searching for new efficiencies.

ExploreLasting impression: Air Force’s busiest honor guard calls Wright-Patterson home

“The Air Force really cannot exist without AFMC,” AFMC Historian Yancy Mailes said recently.

He called AFMC “the command with answers.”

Combined ShapeCaption
Headquarters, Air Force Materiel Command. Air Force photo

Headquarters, Air Force Materiel Command. Air Force photo

Combined ShapeCaption
Headquarters, Air Force Materiel Command. Air Force photo

Need a new weapons system? Air Force decision-makers turn to AFMC. Need to maintain and sustain that weapons system? Again, they turn to this command.

Mailes declined to hazard a guess at how many platforms and weapons AFMC has fielded since 1992. But off the top of his head, he mentioned the array of drones or “unmanned platforms,” the mighty C-17 Globemaster cargo plane, the KC-46 tanker, the creation of “digital twins” for airplanes allowing training on virtual replicas — and much more.

And of course, the planes and weapons AFMC supports merit their own honor roll — the B-1, (the “darling of Operation Enduring Freedom,” as Mailes put it), and the B-52, which has flown for 70 years, the F-16 and many more.

Mailes recalled seeing early versions of key aircraft in the early 1990s while stationed at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

“It was not uncommon in the1991, ‘92, ‘93 time period to step out on the flightline and see the YF-22 and YF-23 taking off while the testbed C-17 was actually sitting on the runway, getting ready to take off,” he recalled. “The B-2 was testing across the base.”

The decision to anchor the new command at Wright-Patterson came relatively early, by December 1990, but there were growing pains. Acquisition functions were located at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C. power brokers, while the logistics work was here at Wright-Patterson.

It was that logistics function — and the attendant relationships with Ohio universities and defense contractors — that helped shift the center of gravity to Wright-Patt.

There were some who did not wish to move here from Andrews. “There was great concern for that, and I will tell you in the beginning, it was difficult to get many of the Andrews folks to move here.”

From day one, the command has been on a wartime footing. An AFMC spokeswoman offered to entertain questions about support for Ukraine at another time. But in May, Arthur “Art” Huber, deputy director of the Air, Space and Cyberspace Operations Directorate at AFMC, told a Dayton Defense audience that the command is helping Ukraine.

“I can’t talk a lot about it,” Huber said then. “But I can tell you in a sort of reassurance fashion that we are a big part of the equation.”

“We do our wartime mission every day,” Mailes said.

About the Author