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Final land transfer of former Onizuka Air Station complete

  • Published
  • By AFCEC Public Affairs Office

For more than 50 years, Onizuka Air Force Station, Calif., was a top-secret member of the Air Force Satellite Control Network. The installation is now ready to take on new frontiers.

After the base was selected for closure by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission in 2005, the Air Force began working with the local community to transfer the property.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center completed the final land transfer at Onizuka in late May. Five parcels consisting of about 19 acres were transferred to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the City of Sunnyvale, Calif., and the Foothill-De Anza Community College District.

"This is a shining example of how multiple agencies can work together to transfer this facility, and provide the local community with the facilities it needs for a new life," said Steve Mayer, Air Force BRAC Transition Coordinator.

In exchange for facilities and the associated 4.4 acres, the VA provided $6.5 million to the Air Force. The VA plans to use the property for a research laboratory.

On another parcel, the Department of Education sponsored a Public Benefit Conveyance to Foothill-De Anza Community College for 9.2 acres. Plans are in the works to build a new regional education facility at the site.

The Air Force has also transferred 4.6 acres to the City of Sunnyvale through a collaborative exchange agreement between the City, the Air Force, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Mid-Peninsula Housing Coalition, and the Charities Housing Development Corporation. MPHC and CHDC vacated their interest in the Onizuka parcel in return for a 100-year lease of a local armory site owned by the City.

The City of Sunnyvale Fire Department also received one acre through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and plans to use the land to expand its current fire station operations at the site.

Onizuka AFS played a critical role in our nation's security and protection since 1960. The station conducted operations on the nation's first imagery satellite, the Corona spacecraft. Following the success of the Corona mission, the installation became part of the Air Force Satellite Control Network, providing the world's only global antenna network for command and control for military, intelligence and civil spacecraft constellations.

Onizuka was originally commissioned as the Sunnyvale Air Station, but was later renamed for Astronaut Col. Ellison Onizuka, who trained there and was killed in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger explosion.

In 2005, Onizuka AFS was selected for closure by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission, with the recommendation to move operations to Vandenberg Air Force Base consolidating satellite command and control operations while reducing excess infrastructure. In 2011, the mission moved to Vandenberg, and Onizuka inactivated. 

AFCEC acquires, manages and disposes of Air Force-controlled real property worldwide. The Base Realignment and Closure division manages the remediation and transfer of more than 77,500 acres of property at 40 former AF installations throughout the nation. BRAC is essential to rightsizing the Air Force infrastructure and modernizing the military.