NAS Sigonella is an airbase
of the United States Navy
located in the middle of Sicily
, west of Catania
and south of Mount Etna
. Its main purpose is as a logistics
center for NATO
operations in and around the Mediterranean Sea
: troops and equipment fly into Sigonella, and are routed to their final destination
Sigonella was constructed in the mid-1950's to replace the overcrowded Halfar airbase in Malta. "NAFVAC Sigonella," as it was originally called, grew from 700 personnel in 1959 to 2,000 in 1977, prompting the Navy to upgrade it to a naval air station in 1981. Today, there are over 7,000 people living there, including 3,000 American military personnel and 1,250 civilian employees from the U.S. and Italy.
There are actually two halves to Sigonella, known as NAS I and NAS II. NAS I is where the men and women of Sigonella live: it also has shopping facilities, a school, and a hospital. NAS II, located about ten minutes away by car, is the airport half, which houses the base's squadrons of C-130's, C-9's, and C-2's.
The base was especially important during Operation Allied Force. If you've ever played F-19 Stealth Fighter, you'll also remember that it was the main base for the Libyan theater.