electronic reconnaissance

List of USAF reconnaissance wings assigned to Strategic Air Command

This is a list of United States Air Force Reconnaissance and Strategic Reconnaissance Wings assigned to Strategic Air Command (SAC). SAC operated from 1946 to 1992.

5th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

  • Established on: 1 July 1949.
  • Activated on: 16 July 1949.
  • At: Mountain Home AFB, ID.
  • Assigned to: Strategic Air Command, 311th Air Division.
  • Equipment: B-29s, RB-29s.
  • Moved to: Fairfield Suisun AFB, CA, on 12 November 1949.
  • Reassigned to: Second Air Force on 1 November 1949. (Attached to the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing from 21 November 1949 to 1 April 1950).
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force on 1 April 1950.(Attached to 9th Bomb Wing from 1 April 1950 to 10 February 1951).
  • Equipment: B-29s, RB-29s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1950 to RB-29s, RB-36s.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 14th Air Division on 10 February 1951. (Attached to the 3rd Air Division from 14 January to 12 April 1955).
  • Changed equipment in: 1955 to B-36s, RB-36s.
  • Redesignated on 1 October 1955 as 5th Bomb Wing.

Performed long-range strategic reconnaissance, Jul. 1949-Oct. 1955, with some limited reconnaissance to Sept. 1958. Fully integrated with 9th Strategic Reconnaissance (later, 9th Bombardment) Wing, 12 November 1949 - 10 February 1951; maintained a manned headquarters, but had no operational control over assigned units, and from 1 February 1950 to 10 February 1951 shared a commander in common with the 9th Wing.

6th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

  • Redesignated on: 1 April 1988.
  • At: Eielson AFB, AK.
  • Assigned to: Fifteenth Air Force,14th Air Division.
  • Equipment: KC-135s, RC-135s, TC-135s.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force,3rd Air Division on 9 August 1990.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force on 1 April 1992.
  • Reassigned to: Air Combat Command,
  • Second Air Force on 31 May 1992

9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

  • Established on: 25 April 1949.
  • Activated on: 1 May 1949.
  • At: Fairfield-Suisun AFB, CA.
  • Assigned to: Strategic Air Command, 311th Air Division
  • Equipment: B-17s, RB-17s, B-29s, RB-29s, RB-36s.
  • Reassigned to: Second Air Force on 1 November 1949.
  • Redesignated on: 1 April 1950 as 9th Bomb Wing.
  • Redesignated on: 25 June 1966.
  • At: Beale AFB, CA.
  • Assigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 14th Strategic Aerospace Division on 5 June 1966.
  • Equipment: B-47s, SR-71s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1969 to SR-71s, T-38s.
  • Assigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 14th Air Division on 31 March 1972.
  • Changed equipment in: 1976 to SR-71s, U-2s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1981 to SR-71s, TR-1s, U-2s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1983 to KC-135s, SR-71s, T-38s, TR-1s, U-2
  • Changed equipment in: 1991 to KC-135s, T-38s, TR-1s, U-2s.
  • Redesignated on: 1 September 1991 as 9th Wing.

Conducted strategic reconnaissance with assigned components, May 1949- Mar 1950, and with components of 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Nov 1949-Feb 1951. Performed strategic reconnaissance in Southeast Asia beginning in 1968; provided photographic intelligence for the Son Tay prison camp raid in North Vietnam, Nov 1970. Conducted humanitarian and scientific missions for Department of Defense and other government agencies when requested. Added U-2 & U-2R aircraft in 1976 and specialized KC-135Q tankers in 1983 to become the only USAF wing so equipped. Participated in USAF operations worldwide, including Grenada, Oct-Nov 1983, and Libya, Apr 1986. Following the 1990 retirement of SR-71 aircraft, U-2 aircraft flew intelligence-gathering missions, Aug 1990- Mar 1991, in Southwest Asia, particularly during the Gulf War buildup and subsequent combat operations. Emblem approved 1 July 1952.

17th Reconnaissance Wing

  • Redesignated on: 20 January 1982.
  • Activated ed on: 1 October 1982.
  • At: RAF Alconbury, England.
  • Assigned to: Eighth Air Force, 7th Air Division.
  • Equipment: TR-1s.
  • Inactivated on: 30 June 1991.

Activated in England on 1 October. 1982. Flew tactical and strategic surveillance missions in Western Europe until inactivated in 1991. Received the P. T. Cullen for providing “the greatest contribution to the intelligence gathering efforts of SAC” in 1989 and 1990. Many of the wing's assets and personnel supported operations in Southwest Asia by ferrying aircraft and equipment from Alconbury, England, to Taif, Saudi Arabia.

26th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing “Knowledge is Power”

  • Activated on: 28 May 1952.
  • At: Lockbourne AFB, OH.
  • Assigned to: Second Air Force, 801st Air Division. (Attached to the 7th Air Division from 13 September to 29 October 1954).
  • Equipment: B-47s, YRB-47s, KC-97s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1954 to B-47s, RB-47s, YRB-47s, KC-97s.
  • Reassigned to: Eighth Air Force, 801st Air Division on 1 July 1955.
  • Changed equipment in: 1955 to RB-47s, YRB-47s, KC-97s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1956 to RB-47s, KC-97s.
  • Inactivated on: 1 July 1958.

Activated in May 1952, but unmanned until Jan. 1953. Maintained proficiency in strategic reconnaissance, Jan. 1953-Apr. 1958, and in aerial refueling, May 1952-Apr. 1955 and Aug. 1956-Apr. 1958. Not operational 15 April.-1 July. 1958.

28th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

  • Redesignated on: 1 April 1950.
  • At: Rapid City AFB, SD.
  • Assigned to: Eighth Air Force.
  • Equipment: B-29s, RB-29s, B-36s, RB-36s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1951 to RB-36s.
  • Assigned to: Fifteenth Air Force 1 April 1955. (Attached to the 3rd Air Division From 1 April to 24 July 1955).
  • Redesignated on: 1 October 1955 as 28th Bomb Wing.

Performed global strategic reconnaissance, 1954-1955, with bombardment as a secondary mission, 1954-1955. Trained primarily as a bombardment wing from 1955, but retained a reconnaissance capability to Sept. 1956.

55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

  • Established on: 19 July 1948.
  • Activated on: 19 July 1948.
  • At: Topeka AFB, KS.
  • Assigned to: Strategic Air Command, 311th Air Division, Reconnaissance.
  • Equipment: B-17s, RB-17s, B-29s, RB-29s, RC-54s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1949 to B-17s, RB-17s, B-29s, RB-29s.
  • Inactivated on: 14 October 1949.
  • Redesignated on: 1 November 1950.
  • At: Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico.
  • Assigned to: Second Air Force.
  • Equipment: B -29s, RB-29s, RB-50s.
  • Moved to: Forbes AFB, KS, on 5 October 1952.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 21st Air Division on 1 October 1952. (Attached to the 5th Air Division from 18 May to 16 August 1955).
  • Changed equipment in: 1954 to EB-47s, RB-47s, RB-50s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1955 to EB-47s, RB-47s.
  • Reassigned to: Eighth Air Force, 21st Air Division on 1 July 1955.
  • Reassigned to: Second Air Force, 21st Air Division on 1 January 1959.
  • Changed equipment in: 1964 to EB-47s, RB-47s, Atlas.
  • Reassigned to: Second Air Force, 810th Strategic Aerospace Division on 1 September 1964.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 12th Strategic Aerospace Division on 2 July 1966.
  • Moved to: Offutt AFB, NE on 16 August 1966.
  • Changed equipment in: 1966 to EB-47s, RB-47s, EC-135s, RC-135s, KC-135s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1967 to EB-47s, RB-47s, EC-135s, KC-135s, RC-135s.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 14th Strategic Aerospace Division on 30 June 1971.
  • Changed equipment in: 1975 to EC-135s, KC-135s, RC-135s, E-4s.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 4th Air Division on 1 October 1976.
  • Changed equipment in: 1977 to C-135s, EC-135s, KC-135s, RC-135s, E-4s.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 57th Air Division on 1 April 1980.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 12th Air Division on 1 October 1982
  • Changed equipment in: 1983 to C-135s, EC-135s, KC-135s, NKC-135s, RC-135s, E-4s.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 14th Air Division on 1 October 1985.
  • Changed equipment in: 1988 to C-135s, EC-135s, KC-135s, NKC-135s, RC-135s, TC-135s, E-4s.
  • Redesignated on: 1 September 1991 as 55th Wing.

Provided precise Shoran and Hiran mapping and photographic reconnaissance, 1948-1949. Performed strategic reconnaissance, charting photography, precise electronic geodetic mapping, and electronic reconnaissance, 1950-1954. When mapping and charting functions transferred on I May 1954, wing assumed mission of global strategic reconnaissance, including electronic reconnaissance, weather reconnaissance (to Jun. 1963), and photographic reconnaissance (to May 1964). Deployed at Ben Guerir Air Base, French Morocco, May-Aug. 1955. Responsible for an Atlas missile complex, Aug. 1964-Mar. 1965. Became responsible for SAC's airborne command post and post-attack command and control operations, Aug. 1966. In addition, flew SAC logistic support missions after Sept. 1971. Conducted K/E/RC-135 pilot training as required. Became responsible for the National Emergency Airborne Command Post E-4 aircraft fleet in 1975. Began Airborne Launch Control operations in 1978 using EC-135Cs as flying launch/control platforms for Minuteman, and later, Peacekeeper strategic missile systems. Awarded the P. T. Cullen award five times since 1971 for its contributions to photo and signal intelligence collection. Operated from bases in the U.S., Mediterranean, Europe, and the Pacific. Provided reconnaissance for contingencies in Grenada, 1983; Libya, 1986; and Southwest Asia, 1990-1991. Ended nearly twenty-five years of continuous Airborne Command Post operations in 1990, assumed a modified alert posture, and continued worldwide reconnaissance.

68th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

Received initial cadre of 16 people from 44th Bombardment Wing in Oct. 1951. Began operational training as a reconnaissance wing using borrowed B-29s in Oct. 1951.

70th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

Deployed at Lockbourne AFB, Ohio, 24 January-19 October. 1955, while permanent base underwent construction. Few wing components manned until move to Little Rock AFB, AR. Flew strategic reconnaissance to meet SAC's global commitments, Oct. 1955-1962, but on a reduced scale after Feb. 1958. Assumed an air refueling mission in 1955. Deployed at Sidi Slimane AB, Morocco, 26 October.-17 December. 1956. From Jun. 1958 to Sept. 1961, provided B/RB-47 combat crew training for other SAC units, while continuing RB-47 and KC-97 operations. The refueling squadron transferred in Aug. 1961 and the final RB-47 class graduated in Oct. 1961.

71st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Fighter

  • Redesignated on: 4 November 1954.
  • Activated on: 24 January 1955.
  • At: Larson AFB, WA.
  • Assigned to: Fifteenth Air Force.
  • Equipment: RF-84s, RBF-84Fs.
  • Changed equipment in: 1957 to RF-84s.
  • Inactivated on: 1 July 1957.

Activated in Jan. 1955 to perform strategic reconnaissance and test a technique for launching small RBF-84 aircraft from GRB-36 bombers, to extend the range of photographic reconnaissance and fighter escort. Tests ended in 1956, but wing continued strategic reconnaissance until inactivated in 1957.

Activated on paper on 16 June. 1952, but not operational until it absorbed the residual resources of the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing in Oct. 1952. Conducted global strategic reconnaissance, Mar. 1953-1955, gradually shifting to a bombardment-training mission beginning in 1954. Added refueling to its global mission in 1958. Inactivated on 30 June. 1971.

72d Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

  • Established on: 4 June 1952.
  • Activated on: 16 June 1952.
  • At: Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico.
  • Assigned to: Second Air Force.
  • Equipment: RB-36s, KC-97s.
  • Redesignated on: 1 October 1955 as 72d Bomb Wing.

72d Strategic Wing (Provisional)

  • Established: Late 1972.
  • At: Anderson AFB, Guam.
  • Discontinued on: 15 August 1973.

Established as the 72d Strategic Wing (P) in late 1972 at Anderson AFB, Guam. The 72 SW(P) flew 8,010 sorties over Cambodia and flew the last sorties of the Southeast Asian conflict on 15 August 1973.

90th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

Flew strategic reconnaissance missions, September 1953-May 1958, and Air refueling missions, February 1956-June 1960. Served as RB-47 combat crew training wing, May 1958-June 1960. Deployed at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, May 5, 1955August 31, 1955.

91st Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

  • Established on: 11 October 1948.
  • Activated on: 10 November 1948.
  • At: McGuire AFB, NJ.
  • Assigned to: Strategic Air Command, 311th Air Dission,Reconnaissance.
  • Equipment: B-17s, RB-17s, B-29s, RB-29s, TB-29s, RC-54s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1949 to B-17s, RB-17s, TRB-17s, B-29s, RB-29s, TB-29s, TRB-29s, B-50s, RC-54s.
  • Reassigned to: Second Air Force on 1 November 1949.
  • Moved to: Barksdale AFB, LA, on 1 October 1949.1949.
  • Changed equipment in: 1950 to B-17s, RB-17s, B-29s, KB-29s, RB-29s, B-45s, RB-45s, B-50s, RB-50s.
  • Reassigned to: Strategic Air Command, 4th Air Division on 10 February 1951.
  • Moved to: Lockbourne AFB OH, on 11 September 1957.
  • Reassigned to: Second Air Force on 11 September 1951.
  • Changed equipment in: 1951 to KB-29s, RB-29s, B-45s, RB-45s, RB-50s.
  • Reassigned to: Second Air Force, 37th Air Division on 10 October 1951. (Attached to Second Air Force 10 October 1951 to 17 March 1952).
  • Changed equipment in: 1952 to KB-29s, B-45s, RB-45s, KC-97s.
  • Reassigned to: Second Air Force, 801st Air Division on 28 May 1952.
  • Changed equipment in: 1953 to KB-29s, B-45s, RB-45s, RB-47s, RB-47s, YRB-47s, KC-97s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1954 to RB-47s, YRB-47s, KC-97.
  • Reassigned to: Eighth Air Force, 801st Air Division on 1 July 1955.
  • Changed equipment in: 1955 to RB-47s, KC-97.
  • Inactivated on: 8 November 1957.

Performed global strategic reconnaissance, 1948-1957, with emphasis on aerial photography and mapping, 1948-1950; added aerial refueling mission, 1950-1957. Wing headquarters integrated with headquarters of 301st Bombardment Wing, 1 April 1950-9 February 1951, although each wing continued tactical operations independently. Tactical components occasionally detached for periods up to three months for duty with other USAF establishments. More frequently, wing maintained operational detachments comprised of aircraft and crews drawn from several n components to provide reconnaissance support in overseas areas. Such detachments were maintained in England, 19 January 1951-20 March 1952, 18 March 195211 May 1952, 21 October 195212 December 1952 and 8 April 19549 May 1954; in Japan, 23 March 1951-30

C reconnaissance, photographic, and navigation competition and the P. T. Cullen Award in 1955 and 1956. From Aug to Nov 1956 most of the wing deployed overseas in detachments not under operational control of the small establishment remaining in the United States. Inactivated in Nov 1957.

99th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing “Sight with Might”

  • Activated on: [[1 January 1953.
  • At: Fairchild AFB, WA.
  • Assigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 57th Air Division. (Attached to the 3rd Air Division from 29 January to 25 April 1956).
  • Equipment: RB-29s, RB-36s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1954 to RB-36s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1955 to GRB-36s, RB-36s.
  • Redesignated on: 1 October 1955 as 99th Bomb Wing.

The 99th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing in Jan 1953, replaced the 111th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Fairchild AFB, WA. It performed worldwide photographic, electronic, and visual day and night strategic reconnaissance as its primary mission until late 1954, and until Sep 1956 as a secondary mission. From Jan 1955 to Feb 1956, the wing participated in Project FICON, in which one squadron's GRB-36D bombers were modified to carry RF-84K reconnaissance fighters on long-range flights. Strategic bombing became the Wing's primary mission in late 1954.

100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing "Peace Through Strength"

  • Redesignated on: 25 June 1966.
  • At: Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ.
  • Assigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 12th Strategic Aerospace Division on 25 June 1966.
  • Equipment: CH-3s, AQM-34s, U-2s, WU-2s, DC-130s.
  • Changed equipment in: 1970 to CH-3s, AQM-34s, U-2s, DC-130s.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 14th Strategic Aerospace Division on 30 June 1971.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force, 12th Strategic Missile Division on 1 August 1972.
  • Redesignated on: 100th Air Refueling Wing on 30 September 1976.

The wing moved without personnel or equipment to Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ, in Jun 1966 and absorbed resources of the 4080th Strategic Wing. During the next ten years, it performed global strategic reconnaissance with U-2 and drone aircraft, Jun 1966-1976, using one overseas-based squadron (99th SRS), and deployed operating locations as needed, 1972-1976, earning the P.T. Cullen Award as the reconnaissance unit that contributed most to the photo and signal intelligence efforts of SAC, 1972. The wing transferred drone operations and associated DC-130 launchers and CH-3 recoveries to TAC in mid-1976, and transferred U-2 resources to 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, CA, Jul-Sep 1976. Not operational, 11 August 197629 September 1976, while phasing down at Davis-Monthan AFB, it moved without personnel or equipment to Beale AFB on 30 September 1976 and absorbed resources of the 17th Bombardment Wing, Heavy.

111th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (Pennsylvania Air National Guard)

Ordered to active duty on: 1 April 1951. At: Fairchild AFB, WA. Assigned to: Fifteenth Air Force. Equipment: RB-29s. Returned to state control on: 31 December 1951. The 111th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (ANG) was composed of the 129th Bomb Squadron (formerly the 3rd Bomb Squadron), the 130th Bomb Squadron (formerly the 74th Bomb Squadron) both from the USAF were joined by the 103rd Bomb Squadron (Light) from the Pennsylvania ANG which was redesignated as the 103rd Strategic Reconnaissance (Medium).When inactivated the ANG personnel were released to their parent units. The equipment and active duty personnel remained at Fairchild and were gained by the newly formed 99th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing.

311th Reconnaissance Wing

  • At: Buckley Field, CO.
  • Assigned to: Strategic Air Command.
  • Equipment: F-2s (UC-45s).
  • Moved to: MacDill AAF, FL. on 17 April 1946.
  • Reassigned to: Fifteenth Air Force on 11 May 1946.
  • Reassigned to: Strategic Air Command on 31 May 1947.
  • Redesignated on: 16 April 1948 as 311th Air Division, Reconnaissance.

The 311th was SAC's first major reconnaissance organization. Its components were scattered around the world and moved several times. It was initially moved to MacDill Field on April 17 1946, but a month later it was transferred to Andrews AFB. On July 20 1948 it moved to Topeka AFB Kansas and a month later to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. The 311th was inactivated on November 1 1949. The 311th had five squadrons: 1st, 12th, 16th, 91st, and 46th/72nd recon squadrons.

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