The Strategic Air Command (SAC) was both a major command in the United States Air Force and a “specified command” in the United States Department of Defense. SAC was the operational establishment in charge of America’s land-based strategic bomber aircraft and land-based intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) strategic nuclear arsenal from 1946 to 1992. SAC also controlled the infrastructure necessary to support the strategic bomber and ICBM operations, such as aerial refueling tanker aircraft to refuel the bombers in flight, strategic reconnaissance aircraft, command post aircraft, and, until 1957, fighter escorts.
Following the fall of the Soviet Union, the Air Force instituted a comprehensive reorganization of its major commands (MAJCOMs). As part of this reorganization, SAC was disestablished as a MAJCOM on 1 June 1992, with its ICBMs and bomber, strategic reconnaissance, and command post aircraft reassigned to the newly-established Air Combat Command (ACC). Concurrently, SAC’s tanker aircraft, including those in the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard, were predominantly reassigned to the new Air Mobility Command (AMC), followed by a select number of tankers being reassigned to United States Air Forces in Europe(USAFE) and Pacific Air Forces (PACAF). The ICBM force was later transferred from ACC to the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC). United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), a joint/unified combatant command, has now assumed the primary mission once held by SAC, to include being headquartered in SAC’s previous facilities at Offutt AFB, Nebraska.
- 1944: established as “Continental Air Forces” on 13 December, activated on 15 December
- 1946: redesignated “Strategic Air Command” at Bolling AFB on 21 March. Relocated to Andrews AFB on 20 October
- 1947: U.S. Air Force is established on 18 September
- 1948: Lt Gen Curtis LeMay takes command on 19 October and relocates SAC to Offutt AFB south of Omaha on 9 November
- 1992: SAC inactivated on 31 May with bomber and reconnaissance aircraft reassigned to Air Combat Command (ACC); majority of air refueling aircraft reassigned to Air Mobility Command (AMC) and a small portion of KC-135 aircraft reassigned to United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) and Pacific Air Forces (PACAF); ballistic missile force initially reassigned to ACC and then to Air Force Space Command(AFSPC).