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Departure airfield

Definition A departure airfield is a term used in military operations to refer to the specific airfield or airport from where military aircraft take off or depart for a mission. It is the starting point for aerial missions, where the aircraft is prepared, loaded, and launched. The departure airfield is crucial to the planning and […]


A departure airfield is a term used in military operations to refer to the specific airfield or airport from where military aircraft take off or depart for a mission. It is the starting point for aerial missions, where the aircraft is prepared, loaded, and launched. The departure airfield is crucial to the planning and execution of air operations.

Key Takeaways

  1. The “Departure Airfield” term in military operations refers to the specific airfield where the aircraft will take off at the beginning of a mission.
  2. This airfield needs to feature optimal conditions and facilities for both aircraft and crew, including quality infrastructure, runway capacity, and adequate weather conditions, to ensure a safe and effective take-off of the military operation.
  3. The strategic selection of a departure airfield can greatly influence mission success. It factors in proximity to the mission’s target, risk of detection or ordinance attack by enemies, and the obtained intelligence information at the time.


The term “Departure Airfield” is critical in military operations as it refers to the specific airfield from which aircraft and troops are launched for a particular mission or operation.

This term isn’t merely about the geographical location, but it accounts for strategic planning, logistics, and resupply operations.

It sets the stage for factors such as flight path calculation, fuel consumption, weather considerations, local threats, availability of resources, and potential for immediate support.

It also implies the contingency planning for returning to base in case of failed missions or emergency situations.

Therefore, “departure airfield”‘s selection and planning have a significant bearing on the success or the failure of the military operation.


Departure airfield is a key term used in military aviation that signifies the location from where aircrafts initiate their flight for a specific military mission. Often strategically located to support mission objectives and provide logistical advantage, departure airfields are essential to aviation-based operations.

The purpose of identifying and designating a departure airfield is primarily for the facilitation and organization of mission functions. It also establishes where maintenance, refueling, and rearming services can be accessed prior to take-off, ensuring that the aircraft is thoroughly prepared for the mission ahead.

Furthermore, departure airfields are typically chosen based on many critical factors. These factors could include the airfield’s proximity to the target area, the presence of necessary amenities and facilities, and the safe conditions for flight – such as the length and condition of the runway, or the ability to accommodate the size and type of aircraft involved in the mission.

This designated location plays a pivotal role in managing and coordinating military flight operations, serving as the starting point for mission execution. Additionally, the departure airfield may also serve as a primary point of return for aircraft after mission completion, unless specified otherwise.

Examples of Departure airfield

A departure airfield is a location where military aircraft take off to conduct operations. This term can describe any airfield, regardless of size or location, as long as it serves as a point of origin for military operations.

Joint Base Andrews, USA: Joint Base Andrews, in Maryland, is a well-known departure airfield. It is the home of Air Force One and is regularly used for departing flights for personnel and equipment heading for military operations around the world.

Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan (closed in 2021): This was one of the key departure airfields for US military operations in Afghanistan. During the war, numerous missions, including those involving air support, supplies delivery, and troop transport, originated from this airfield.

Ramstein Air Base, Germany: Ramstein Air Base in Germany is also a significant departure airfield, given it’s strategic location. It often serves as the starting point for U.S. military flights heading to locations in Eastern Europe, Africa, or the Middle East.

FAQs on Departure Airfield

What is a Departure Airfield?

A Departure Airfield is a military term referring to the airfield or airport from which an aircraft or air tactic operation takes off. It’s an important factor in planning and executing military airborne operations, playing a significant role in the logistics, timing, and strategy of a mission.

Why is the Departure Airfield important in military operations?

The choice of the Departure Airfield is crucial in military operations as it can affect mission success. It factors into considerations such as distance to the target location, refuelling needs, potential enemy threat, and airspace control. Therefore, selecting an optimal Departure Airfield can directly influence an operation’s effectiveness and safety.

What factors influence the choice of a Departure Airfield?

There are several factors that influence the decision, such as proximity to the targeted area, the capacity of the airfield to handle specific types of aircraft, availability of necessary facilities and resources, safety & security, and terrain & weather conditions. Political considerations, such as permissions and treaties, must be also taken into account if the operation involves a foreign airfield.

Who makes the decision about the Departure Airfield?

The choice of the Departure Airfield is a strategic decision made by military operation commanders and planners, often with input from logistics and intelligence units, and sometimes government & diplomatic officers when international relations are involved.

Is the Departure Airfield always a military airfield?

Not necessarily. While many operations are launched from military airfields, some can also be launched from civilian airports if necessary and suitable. However, the use of civilian airports often requires additional permissions and security measures.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Military Air Transportation Service (MATS)
  • Deployment Process
  • Aircraft Load Planning
  • Passenger Terminal
  • Air Mobility Command (AMC)

Sources for More Information

  • U.S. Department of Defense: It gives in-depth and comprehensive knowledge about military terms and protocols including departure airfield.
  • U.S. Air Force: Official site of the U.S. Air Force has a wealth of information on protocols, processes, and terminologies.
  • Federal Aviation Administration: Get detailed information about aviation rules and guidelines, applicable in military operations too.
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): This international military alliance’s website contains valuable information about departure airfield and other military terms.

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