Ash Sha’irat

Google maps are a great thing if you’re curious about the world around you. Usually when I hear of some spooky thing or other, I try to find it – because it’s interesting.

I’ll check back in a few months and we’ll see what Ash Sha’irat air force base looks like. [google]

When you zoom all the way in to the revetment in the center, you can see a pair of Su-22s parked out in the sun.


The revetment is not collapsed, it’s a double revetment; the line down the middle is the central support. These are intended to protect aircraft from strikes but if you put enough explosives into the open end, you’ll destroy anything soft – aircraft are pretty fragile, really.

This is what I expected to see when I went cruising for an American airfield in Syria. Which is why I was surprised to find nothing in any of the spots that have been flagged as the location. It’s not hard to identify a military airfield from a satellite picture – so either the US airfield is not there, or Google is taking orders from the US military.

For example, a google maps search for the air base at Incirlik in Turkey – doesn’t find anything. If you get the GPS coordinates off Wikipedia and punch them in, you get there. I’ve got someplace to be right now or I’d probably spend an hour going over every inch of the satellite imagery looking for an isolated armored building, with multiple security fences and a heavy vehicle access road; that’d be where the US nukes are (or were) stored. The ordnance depot is here. You can tell because of the berms in the front to diffuse the effects of an explosion if one of them has an oopsie. That’s a characteristic architecture of ordnance storage everywhere; I first encountered it when I was a kid, visiting civil war forts.


  1. says

    I’d have to disagree with you on the special bunker for nukes, I’m of the opinion that they would be in a bunker that looks just like all the rest. It might look exactly the same from the outside but probably has some extra security on the inside, maybe the actual nuclear weapons bunker is 50 feet down a secure elevator shaft. Or then again maybe there is no special security other than a bicycle lock on the front door…
    Looking at the closest ex SAC base to where I live, you can see the ordnance bunkers at: 44.6419279,-73.475916
    Note how few bunkers there are. There is no sign of any additional bunkers around the base (Which has been decommissioned for about 20 years now). Now note the enormous size of the apron. This is a base that _could_ have held a _lot_ of bombers back in the day. If they were planning on using conventional weapons they would have needed a lot more ordnance bunkers.
    This base had B47s, B52s and F111s over the years and there are various anecdotal accounts out on the web of nuclear weapons being loaded on aircraft there. Just being a SAC base with B52s is reason enough to believe that there were nukes stored there at some point.
    Another base that we can be pretty sure had nukes back in the ’80s is Greenham Common, you can see their bunkers at: 51.378431,-1.3028091
    There is a good image of the bunkers at:
    Note that their bunkers are considerably bigger since they had to accommodate the GLCM trucks.
    If they look familiar take a closer look at the Rebel fighter base in the latest Star Wars movie…

  2. says

    Patrick Slattery@#1:
    Interesting! And thank you for sharing that. Indeed they look like “normal” ordnance bunkers.

    It’s possible I’m quite wrong – the fellow who described nuke bunkers to me was that they were separate and better guarded. He also described the MLRS reload truck with the “special” load as being kept separate and having armed guards. He may have been BS’Ing me, or maybe it’s different on different bases.

    The SAC didn’t deal with ordinary munitions, I believe, so I’d expect their bunkers to be small. The B-52s were only going to make one trip. And I agree about the size of the pad. Those things are big and awkward.