WASHINGTON — Thule Air Base, a U.S. military installation in Greenland where Space Force units conduct missile warning operations, has been renamed Pituffik Space Base. 

Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman at the renaming ceremony April 6 said the new name acknowledges the “rich cultural heritage of Greenland and its people and how important they are to the sustainment of this installation against the harsh environment north of the Arctic Circle.”

Pituffik (pronounced bee-doo-FEEK) is the traditional Greenlandic name of the region where the base is located. 

The U.S. military’s northernmost installation, Pituffik is located approximately 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the northwestern coast of Greenland.

Saltzman noted that the United States views the Arctic region as one of strategic power competition in light of Russia’s significant presence and efforts by China to expand its influence there. 

Also at the ceremony were Greenlandic Minister for Foreign Affairs, Business, and Trade Vivian Motzfeldt and U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark Alan Leventhal. 

“With the decision to rename Thule, the U.S. has demonstrated its respect to the friendship between us, recognizing cultural heritage, and the history of the base,” said Motzfeldt.

Space Force units at Pituffik

The base, built in 1951, is home to DoD’s northernmost deepwater port and has a 10,000-foot runway.  It is operated by the 821st Space Base Group, a unit of Space Base Delta 1 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. 

Pituffik Space Base also hosts the 12th Space Warning Squadron, which is part Space Delta 4, headquartered at Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado. The 23rd Space Operations Squadron, Detachment 1, part of Space Delta 6, based at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, also is based at Pituffik.

These units operate a network of early warning of ballistic missile launches. They also provide telemetry, tracking and command-and-control of U.S. and allied government satellites.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...