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363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing

 

363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing

363d Training Group

To activate the 363d Training Group in an official ceremony on 26 March 2007, U.S. Central Command Air Forces Commander Lt Gen Gary North unfurls the unit colors as Col Michael Cosby, right, stands ready to assume command.
Active 1947-1993; 2007-2011
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Expeditionary Wing
Role Training
Part of Ninth Air Force
Garrison/HQ Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates.
Motto VOIR C'EST SAVOIR – "To see is to know"
Engagements Armed Forces Expeditionary

Operation Desert Storm

  • Defense of Saudi Arabia
  • Liberation and Defense of Kuwait
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device (3x)
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (8x)
Insignia
363d Training Group Emblem

The 363d Flying Training Group (363 FTG) was a United States Air Force unit. The group was assigned to the United States Air Force Ninth Air Force, stationed at Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates. It was attached to the provisional 380th Air Expeditionary Wing as an associate unit.

The mission of the group was to enable integration and interoperability with host Nations and other friendly nations through efforts including doctrine development, combined air operations and multi-national large force employment exercises.

The 363 FTG commander was Colonel Jonathan M. Owens. In a ceremony on 11 July 2011, the group was inactivated and replaced by the AFCENT Air Warfare Center.

History

For additional lineage and history, see 363d Air Expeditionary Operations Group

363d Reconnaissance Wing

The 363d Reconnaissance Wing was activated on 15 August 1947. It was reassigned to Langley AAFld, Virginia in December 1947 by the newly established USAF. It was redesignated the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing on 27 August 1948. For budgetary reasons the unit was inactivated on 26 April 1949, however it was again activated on 1 September 1950 at Langley.

Due to the pressing needs of Far East Air Forces in Japan the 162nd TRS, flying RB-26s, and the photo-processing 363rd Reconnaissance Technical Squadron (RTS) were reassigned from Langley to Itazuke AB Japan for Korean War service and began operations in August 1950 as part of the 543d Tactical Support Group.



On 1 April 1951, the 363d TRW was transferred to Shaw AFB, South Carolina. The 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing would remain at Shaw, under various designations, for the next 43 years. The wing's mission was to fly photographic, electronic and electronic intelligence missions to support both air and ground operations by American or Allied ground forces through its operational compoent, the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group. In addition, the 363d provided combat crew training for reconnaissance aircrews.

In 1958, the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group was inactivated, and its components were assigned directly to the Wing.

In September 1957, the RF-101C began deliveries to Shaw. The C model combined the strengthened structure of the F-101C with the camera installation of the RF-101A. In addition, the RF-101C differed from the RF-101A in being able to accommodate a centerline nuclear weapon, so that it could carry out a secondary nuclear strike mission if ever called upon to do so. The RF-101Cs served for a brief time alongside the RF-101A, but quickly replaced them by May 1958.

In the autumn of 1962, the pilots of the 363d played a major part in the Cuban Missile Crisis. Utilizing their RF-101s for low-altitude photo-reconnaissance missions, they helped identify and track activities at Cuban missile sites, airfields, and port facilities. In awarding the wing the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its achievements, President John F. Kennedy said, "You gentlemen have contributed as much to the security of the United States as any group of men in our history."

The last USAF RF-101C was phased out of the 31st TRTS, a replacement training unit at Shaw AFB, on 16 February 1971 and turned over to the Air National Guard.

In 1956, the RB-66 Destroyer was assigned to the 363d TRW. They replaced the obsolescent RB-26 Invader. The USAF RB-66 force in the continental United States was concentrated at Shaw, with the first RB-66C arriving on 1 February 1956, and the aircraft would continue to operate from Shaw until its retirement in 1974.

Twelve RB-66Cs initially flew with the 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (TRS), and then later with various training squadrons including the 4417th Combat Crew Training Squadron (CCTS), 4411th CCTS, and 39th Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron (TEWTS), as well as the 4416th Test Squadron (TS).

In addition to their training function, Shaw personnel participated in all major exercises and tested and evaluated the RB/EB-B66 and equipment. The wing was alsoto augment, within 72 hours, either of the overseas tactical air forces (PACAF and USAFE) in case of crisis or war. Most early flying of the RB-66C was devoted to getting the aircraft and crew ready for deployment and operations. It took longer than expected to have the electronic gear on the RB-66C operational, as the equipment was continually being modified. Readiness rates for the RB-66C in the late fifties and early sixties were below average, especially when compared to other new aircraft, such as the RF-101, introduced into the wing at Shaw during that same time. The RB-66 eventually became the primary night photographic reconnaissance weapon system of the Tactical Air Command. 363d TRW RB-66Cs carried out missions over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

They were first deployed for combat operations in Southeast Asia during April 1965 and shortly thereafter all were transferred to duty in Southeast Asia, where they carried most of the early electronic warfare operations during the early years of the US involvement in the war. Many B-66s were deployed on 90-day rotations to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base and Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base during the Vietnam War. In Southeast Asia, these aircraft retained the Shaw tail code "JN". During the period 1 April 1969 through 1 January 1973 there was a 39th TEWS flying EB-66's at Spangdahlem Air Base West Germany which was a separate unit unrelated to the 39th TEWTS.

The McDonnell RF-4C Phantom II (Model 98DF) was the unarmed photographic reconnaissance version of the USAF's F-4C. The first production RF-4Cs went in September 1964 to the 363d TRW's 33rd Tactical Reconnaissance Training Squadron. The first operational unit to receive the RF-4C was the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron of the 363rd TRW, achieving initial combat-readiness in August 1965.

The RF-4C became the main USAF tactical reconnaissance aircraft for the next 25 years, before being phased out of active service in the early 1990s at the end of the Cold War.

On 15 July 1971, two EB-57Es were transferred along with the RF-4Cs of the 22d TRS from Bergstrom AFB, Texas, then transferred to the 16th TRS when the 22d TRS was inactivated. These aircraft were highly adapted to carry electronic countermeasures and were frequently deployed to Europe to support USAFE fighter activities. The 363d operated these aircraft until September 1974 then transferring them to the Air National Guard. They were the last B-57s operated by the active-duty USAF.

363d Fighter Wing


The aging and phaseout of the RF-4C aircraft fleet and the utility of the Lockheed TR-1 in Europe for tactical reconnaissance led to the decision by the USAF to realign the mission of the 363d TRW. The reconnaissance training mission of the wing was terminated in 1981 and beginning in 1982, the wing would become 363d Tactical Fighter Wing (363d TFW), being equipped with General Dynamics F-16 aircraft. On 1 October 1981, the 363d TRW was re-designated .

The 363d TFW received its first F-16 on 26 March 1982. The 363d TFW flew F-16A/B Block 10 aircraft until 1984 then converted to Block 15s; F-16C/D Block 25s in autumn 1985 and Block 42s in late 1991. All aircraft carried the "SW" Tail Code.

On 9 August 1990, the 17th and 33d TFS of 363d TFW became the first F-16 squadrons to deploy to the United Arab Emirates in Operation Desert Shield. Operating from Al Dhafra Air Base as the 363d Provisional Wing (along with the 10th TFS from the 50th TFW, Hahn Air Base, Germany), the wing flew combat missions to Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Desert Storm between 17 January and 28 February 1991.

Following Desert Storm, the 19th and 33d Tactical Fighter Squadrons deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch, a coalition effort to enforce the Iraqi "No Fly Zone" south of the 32nd parallel north. The 33rd TFS made history when one of its pilots downed an Iraqi aircraft with an AIM-120 missile. The incident marked the first time an AIM-120 missile was fired in combat and was the first U.S. F-16 air-to-air kill.

With the closure of Myrtle Beach Air Force Base South Carolina and the inactivation of the 354th Fighter Wing, the 21st Tactical Fighter Squadron was activated at Shaw and received 30 Republic A/OA-10 Thunderbolt IIs from the inactivating 355th Fighter Squadron on 1 April 1992. All A-10 aircraft with the 21st TFS were designated as OA-10A.

As a result of the August 1992 destruction of Homestead AFB Florida by Hurricane Andrew in September 1992, the 31st Fighter Wing's 309th Fighter Squadron was initially evacuated to Shaw AFB prior to the hurricane making landfall. With Homstead unusable for an extended period after the hurricane, on 1 October 1992 the squadron was permanently assigned to the 20th FW.

As a result of the end of the Cold War, the Air Force made several dramatic changes with the inactivation and re-designation of wings and their units. The 363d FW and all of its squadrons were inactivated on 1 January 1994, being replaced at Shaw by the 20th Fighter Wing, being reassigned to Shaw from RAF Upper Heyford, England.

363d Air Expeditionary Wing


The 363d Air Expeditionary Wing (363 AEW) was activated on 1 December 1998 and replaced the 4404th Wing (Provisional) when the United States Air Force inactivated all MAJCOM wings.[1] The 363 AEW was the primary United States Air Force Air Expeditionary Wing responsible for Operation SOUTHERN WATCH (OSW), which involved patrolling the Southern No-Fly Zone over Iraq below the 33rd Parallel. The Wing was inactivated after the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom when all American combat forces left Saudi Arabia.

Following Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, US forces began to pull out of Prince Sultan Air Base. On 28 April the CAOC was shifted from PSAB to Al-Udeid in Qatar. On 29 April, Sec. Donald Rumsfeld announced that US forces would begin pulling out of Saudi Arabia and that forces in the country would be diverted to other locations. Rear Admiral David Nichols, the deputy commander of the air operation centre stated that much of the assets associated with the 363d AEW would be relocated by the end of the Summer 2003.

The 363d AEW completed its last operational mission supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom on 28 May 2003 completing a 13-year, continuous mission USAF presence in Saudi Arabia. An E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System deployed to the 363d Expeditionary Airborne Air Control Squadron from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., flew the wing's last operational mission supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

U.S. officials transferred control of portions of Prince Sultan Air Base to Saudi officials at a ceremony 26 August 2003. The ceremony also marked the inactivation of the 363d Air Expeditionary Wing.

363d Training Group

On 26 March 2007, the 363d Training Group (363 TRG) was activated to facilitate the training of airmen from various nations (Later renamed 363d Flying Training Group (363FTG)).

On 21 July 2011, the 363rd Flying Training Group was inactivated.[2] Lt. Gen. Mike Hostage, the commander of U.S. Air Force Central Command, presided over a ceremony in which the AFCENT Air Warfare Center was activated and the 363rd Flying Training Group was inactivated.

Lineage


  • Established as 363d Reconnaissance Wing on 29 July 1947
Organized on 15 August 1947
Discontinued on 27 August 1948
  • Redesignated 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, and activated on 27 August 1948
Inactivated on 26 April 1949
  • Activated on 1 September 1950
Redesignated 363d Tactical Fighter Wing, 1 October 1981
Redesignated 363d Fighter Wing, 1 October 1991
Inactivated 30 December 1993
  • Converted to provisional status and allocated to Air Combat Command to activate or inactivate any time after 1 October 1998.
  • Redesignated as 363d Air Expeditionary Wing, 1 October 1998
Activated on 1 December 1998 by redesignation of 4404th Wing (Provisional)
Inactivated on 26 August 2003.
  • Withdrawn as provisional unit on 24 March 2007
Re-designated 363d Flying Training Group on 25 March 2007
Activated on 26 March 2007
Re-designated 363d Training Group on 1 October 2010
Inactivated on 11 July 2011

Assignments

Attached to First Air Force, 15 January-1 February 1949
Attached to Twenty-Ninth Air Force [Tactical] [Provisional], 31 October-10 December 1955
Attached to: 380th Air Expeditionary Wing entire period

Components

Groups

  • 363d Reconnaissance (later Operations, later Expeditionary Operations) Group: 15 August 1947 – 27 August 1948; 27 August 1948 – 26 April 1949; 1 September 1950 – 8 February 1958 (detached 25 April-10 October 1951). 1 May 1992 – 30 December 1993, 1 December 1998 – 26 August 2003
  • 432d Tactical Reconnaissance Group: attached 18 March 1954 – 30 October 1955; attached 10 December 1955 – 8 February 1958
  • 4402d Tactical Training Group: 1 July 1966 – 20 January 1968 (TAC Composite Training Group)
  • 4403d Tactical Training Group: 1 July 1966 – 20 January 1968 (Never manned or equipped)
  • 363d Expeditionary Logistics Group, 1 October 1998 – 26 August 2003
  • 363d Expeditionary Support Group, 1 October 1998 – 26 August 2003

Squadrons

Stations

Aircraft

Notes and citations

References

  • Martin, Patrick. Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History, 1994. ISBN 0-88740-513-4.
  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
  • Mueller, Robert. Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982 (USAF Reference Series). Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History, 1989. ISBN 0-912799-53-6
  • Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings Lineage and Honors Histories 1947-1977. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
  • Rogers, Brian. United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs

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