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[Inside gate at TTR. (anonymous)]

Tonopah Test Range

Although ideal for testing, the Groom Lake test site was not a suitable location for an operational base, so a new covert base had to be established for the 4450th TG operations.

The Tonopah Test Range (TTR) is a 525 square mile area (625 square miles according to new information...it apparently expanded) located at the very north end of the Nellis Complex, about 32 miles southeast of Tonopah, Nevada and 140 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada. The primary (paved) access is off of Hwy 6 at the north end of the facility. Dirt road access points also exist on the south and east sides of the range.


The TTR base was opened in 1957 by Sandia Laboratories under DOE contract for the development of delivery systems for atomic weapons. Eventually, the instalation and its 6,000 ft asphalt runway was abandoned. The location had the potential for improvement and expansion, with the only public land overlooking the base miles away. Although not as hidden as the "Ranch", the base would be remote enough to operate the Senior Trend aircraft under total secrecy. However, the security surrounding the Tonopah Test Range was so effective that the new base was not publicly reported until 1985, after it had been operating for nearly two years.

Phase I

Under Phase I, from October 1979, the base was reconstructed and expanded. The 6,000 ft runway was lengthened to 10,000 ft. Taxiways, a concrete apron, a large maintenance hanger, and a propane storage tank were added.

Phase II

Under Phase II, the USAF added an extra taxiway, a new control tower, a 42,000 ft hanger, a parts warehouse, a dining hall, a water storage tank, and extensive fuel storage tanks.

Phase III

The runway was extended another 2,000 ft to a total length of 12,000 ft. Extensions were made to taxiways, the ramp, the runway gained arrester gear, and new navigation aids were installed. More fuel storage was provided, together with Liquid Oxygen (LOX) storage, a fire station, and the first 24 aircraft hangers.

Extensive military construction began to turn the austere airstrip at Tonopah into a full fledged base with mainenance facilities, hangers, housing, etc. at a cost of over 100 million dollars. On May 17, 1982, the move of the 4450th TG from Groom Lake to Tonoaph was initiated. This was completed in 1983.

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