The Tour of the Boneyard - Davis-Monthan AFB

Recently I had a chance to visit the world famous Davis-Monthan air base in Tuscon, Arizona.  This is the place where the United States stows the aircraft that are currently not needed by the services. At the moment the base contains approximately 4400 aircraft.  part of the base is used to store flyable aircraft — i.e. aircraft that under deep conservation and will fly again, while the other part is full of aircraft being broken up for spare parts.  This air base is the only military base that actually bring the profit to the us government — over $600 million per year (if one is to believe a tour guide).  The planes on the base are kept as long as there are users for them anywhere in the world and there is demand for the spare parts.  As soon as the last of the type is retied by the last military the planes are quickly scrapped or sent to the museums.  Many long-lived aircraft like B-52 and B-1 are periodically cycled through the storage base in order to keep flying hour on all airframes more or less even and in case of a big war they can all be used

The tour is bus based and you are not allowed out of the bus.

General view of the preserved aircraft:

The tour goes past the museum of sorts where the base personnel collected various aircraft that were stored there at one time or another (all aircraft are still preserved).
YC-14 and YC-15



B-1 and B-52s

B-1s awating preservation

There are over 500 Phantoms still stored on the base.  Many of them are being converted into flying targets:

More modern fighters are also stored there:

F-15s awaiting preservation

The second part of the base is where the aircraft are stored for their spare parts and are slowly disassembled as needed (as the tour guide said — once they cross the bridge that divides two parts of the base they are not coming back).

The broken up B-52s that are stored in plain view for Russian satellites as part of the various arms control treaties:

The jigs for B-1 and B-2 production are also stored here — the production can be restarted in theory if needed

When the airlines were getting rid of their Boeing 707s US government was buying them for as little as $500,000 and storing them here in order to have spare parts for the KC-135 fleet.

F-111s.  Since the last users of the type — Australians are retiring them, very soon they will be sold for scrap.

Around the base grew a whole aircraft recycling industry

The rest of the photos from the tour can be seen here:


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