Thule Air Base Pittufik

    View a Map of Thule

    View a bing Satellite Map of Thule Air Base

    Image courtesy of









Latitude: 76º 32’ 52”
Longitude: -68º 45’ 00”

Thule Air Base is the United States Air Force’s most northern base, located 695 miles (1,118 km) north of the Arctic Circle. It is 947 mi ) 1,524 km) from the North Pole.

This is the only place on earth where three active glaciers join together!
The town was originally Dundas. In 1953 the people were forced to moved, most of them to the community of Qaanaaq, placed north of there.  Thule, also called Pituffik, was the northernmost hunting village in Greenland known as Dundas, until the United States was given permission to build an Air Base there in 1951. The residents of Pituffik and nearby Dundas were forced to move north to a new town of Qaanaaq or other small settlements.

During World War II The Kingdom of Denmark, which Greenland is part of, was occupied by Germany. Once Denmark became occupied, the United States ‘moved in’ onto the Greenlandic territory to protect the allied interest in the region against Germany military power. Just after World War II the first military installations at Thule were constructed. One of the US Air Force’s most important tasks following World War II was the construction of a worldwide system of modern air bases. The US studied the possibility of establishing a major operating base in Greenland when it became clear that round trip flights of planes carrying atomic bombs between US or Canadian bases and European objectives were impractical. The shortest route from the US to the decalred enemy, the Soviet Union’s most important industrial areas was over the North Pole, and Thule is at the precise midpoint between Moscow and New York City. Thule became a key point in the whole American military strategy. The Arctic presented less risk of early warning than using bases in England when Strategic Air Command bombers were flying over. As a defense, Thule could serve as a base for intercepting bomber attacks along the northeastern approaches to Canada and the US.

Thule AB was constructed in secret under the code name Operation BLUE JAY. Construction for Thule AB began in 1951 and was completed in 1953. The construction of Thule is said to have been comparable in scale to the enormous effort required to build the Panama Canal! The United States Navy transported the bulk of men, supplies, and equipment from the naval shipyards in Norfolk, Virginia. On June 6, 1951 an armada of 120 shipments sailed from Norfolk, VA. On board were 12,000 men and 300,000 tons of cargo. They arrived Thule on July 9, 1951. Construction took place around the clock. The workers lived on-board the ship until quarters were built. Once they moved into the quarters, the ships returned home.

In 1954, Globecom Tower, a tower for military radio communication, was built. At the time of its completion it was the third tallest man-made structure on earth.
Thule Air Base is also the location where the fastest sea level surface wind speed in the world was measured when a peak speed of 333 km/h (207 mph) was recorded on March 8, 1972. Thule is the only Air Force Base with an assigned tugboat. The tugboat is used to assist ship movements in the harbor during the summer, and is hauled onto shore during the winter season. The tugboat is also used for daily sightseeing tours of Northstar Bay during the summer months. Thule became an Air Force Space Command base in 1982.

On January 21, 1968, a B-52G bomber crashed and burned on the ice near Thule Air Base. The impact detonated the high explosives in the primary units of all four of the B28 bombs it carried, but nuclear and thermonuclear reactions did not take place due to the PAL and fail-safe mechanisms in the weapons. More than 700 Danish civilians and U.S. military personnel worked under hazardous conditions without protective gear to clean up the nuclear waste. In 1987, nearly 200 of the Danish workers unsuccessfully attempted to sue the United States. It should be added that no nuclear weapons or materials are allowed on Danish – and thus at the time Greenlandic – soil under Danish law.

Today Thule is still a military base, home to the 821st Air Base Group, which exercises Air Base support responsibilities within the Thule Defense Area. The base hosts the 12th Space Warning Squardron, a Ballistic Missile Early Warning Site designed to detect and track Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs) launched against North America. In addition, the modern airfield boasts a 3,000 m (10,000 ft) runway and 2,600 U.S. and international flights per year.

North of Thule there is a 378 meter (1241 feet) tall radio mast called Globecom Tower, which is the tallest structure north of the Arctic Circle in the Western hemisphere. The world's northernmost deep water port is also located at Thule.

Go to the official site of the Thule Air Base: Peterson Air Force Base

Mission Statement for 821ST Air Base Group