9th Reconnaissance Wing

9th Reconnaissance Wing
9th Reconnaissance Wing
9th Reconnaissance Wing.png
Emblem of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing
Active 1949–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Wing
Role Reconnaissance
Size 3,000 personnel
Part of Air Combat Command
Garrison/HQ Beale Air Force Base
Motto "Semper Paratus"
Always Ready
Engagements World War IIAmerican Campaign (1941–1943)
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign
Tokyo firebombing, 9 March 1945
Kawasaki, DUC 15 April 1945
Mining campaign, DUC May 1945
71 combat missions
World War II Victory Medal ribbon.svg American Campaign Medal ribbon.svg Asiatic-Pacific Campaign ribbon.svg

Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg PUC
Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA w/ V Device
U-2 Dragon Lady 80-1080 from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing
A flight crew fuels an 9th Reconnaissance Wing RQ-4 Global Hawk

The 9th Reconnaissance Wing (9 RW) is a United States Air Force unit assigned to the Air Combat Command Eighth Air Force. It is stationed at Beale Air Force Base, California. The wing is also the host unit at Beale.

Its mission is to organize, train and equip U-2R Dragonlady and RQ-4 Global Hawk combat elements for peacetime intelligence gathering, contingency operations, conventional war fighting and Emergency War Order support.

Its 9th Operations Group is a descendant organization of the 9th Group (Observation), one of the 13 original combat air groups formed by the Army before World War II.

During World War II, the 9th Bombardment Group (Very Heavy) was an air combat unit of the United States Army Air Forces. Active for over 60 years, the 9 RW was a component wing of Strategic Air Command's deterrent force throughout the Cold War, performing strategic reconnaissance on a worldwide basis.

The 9th Reconnaissance Wing is commanded by Brigadier General Robert P. "Bob" Otto. Its Command Chief Master Sergeant is Chief Master Sergeant James E. Parkhill, Jr..



The 9 RW is responsible for providing national and theater command authorities with timely, reliable, high-quality, high-altitude reconnaissance products. To accomplish this mission, the wing is equipped with the nation's fleet of U-2 and RQ-4 reconnaissance aircraft and associated support equipment. The wing also maintains a high state of readiness in its expeditionary combat support forces for potential deployment in response to theater contingencies.


The wing is composed of more than 3,000 personnel in four groups at Beale and multiple overseas operating locations:

  • 9th Mission Support Group
  • 9th Medical Group
  • 9th Maintenance Group
  • 9th Operations Group
  • 9th Security Forces Squadron


For additional history and lineage, see 9th Operations Group

Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base

see also: Robert F. Travis

On 1 May 1949 the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was activated at Fairfield-Suisun Air Force Base, California. The Air Force also activated the re-designated 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Group and the 1st, 5th, and 99th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadrons.

The 9th SRW's mission was to obtain complete data through visual, photographic, electronic, and weather reconnaissance operations. To carry out this mission, the wing flew RB-29 Superfortresses and a few RB-36 Peacemakers. The 9th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron also joined the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing on 1 May 1949. It also performed its mission with components of 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, from November 1949 – February 1951. The reconnaissance mission continued for only eleven months.

On 1 April 1950, the Air Force redesignated the 9th SRW as the 9th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, with similar redesignations of the 9th Group and the 1st, 5th, and 99th Squadrons. Seven months later, on 2 November, the wing and subordinate units were again re-designated to Bombardment, Medium with the transfer of the RB-36s, leaving the wing at B-29 Superfortress unit. In early February 1951, the Air Force realigned its flying operation and placed the flying squadrons directly under control of the wings. The Air Force, therefore, placed the 9th Bombardment Group in Records Unit status, then inactivated the group on 16 June 1952. On 4 January 1955, the Air Force bestowed upon the 9th Wing the honors of the inactive 9th Group, the operational headquarters unit before and during World War II.

Mountain Home Air Force Base

9th BG crest as part of 9th Bombardment Wing

The 9th Bombardment Wing remained at Fairfield-Suisun AFB flying B-29s until 1 May 1953. On 1 May, the Strategic Air Command assumed jurisdiction of Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, from the Military Air Transport Service and transferred the 9th Bomb Wing to the base. Mountain Home had previously been a Air Resupply And Communications Service special operations base for MATS, and had phased down its operations. MATS wanted to use Fairfield-Suisun as a West Coast aerial port. SAC could expand Mountain Home for a large bomber base and its relative isolation was also desirable away from the inherent problems of stationing jet bombers in the urban areas halfway between Sacramento and San Francisco, California.

Although some personnel began arriving at Mountain Home early in April, the Wing and its B-29s moved in May. Simultaneously, the 2d Air Refueling Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, became the 9th Air Refueling Squadron and transferred to the 9th Bombardment Wing at Mountain Home AFB.

With the arrival of the 9th Bomb Wing at Mountain Home AFB, the base planned a vast construction program not only to accommodate the wing's personnel and offices, but also in anticipation of the acquisition of B-47 Stratojets to replace the World War II-era obsolete B‑29s. On 15 September 1954, Colonel William C. Kingsbury, commander of the 9th Bomb Wing, landed at Mountain Home in the wing's first B-47 "Stratojet", The remainder of the planes arrived over the next few months. By June 1955, the 9th Wing was ready for a mobility test. Early that month, bombers and crews spanned the continent and the Atlantic Ocean for a 60-day temporary duty assignment to a REFLEX base in England to test the wing's mobility training concept.

In November 1955, the 9th Bombardment Wing's B-47s flew from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho to New Zealand, a distance of 8,300 miles, nonstop with the aid of aerial refueling. This was the longest point-to-point flight for any Strategic Air Command aircraft or unit up to that time.

In the decade after World War II, the development of faster aircraft and missiles steadily reduced reaction time. With the arrival of the missile age, the Strategic Air Command had to be ready to launch its armada of nuclear bombers within 15 minutes for a retaliatory strike. After almost two years of planning, SAC developed a new organization. Nicknamed FRESH APPROACH and designed to ensure a 15-minute response time, the new organization required extensive testing for practicality, mobility, and economy before command leaders were willing to discard the proven structure. On 1 July 1957, the 9th Bombardment Wing was one of three SAC units to begin "service-testing" the new deputy commander system of management.

From July through December 1957, the 9th Wing implemented FRESH APPROACH and worked out the "kinks" of the new organization. The test came during a large SAC mobility and overseas deployment exercise. The 9th Bombardment Wing was the only participating unit with the deputy-commander organizational structure. Between October 1957 and January 1958, elements of the 9th Bombardment Wing and 9th Air Refueling Squadron scattered from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska to Andersen AFB, Guam. Although some problems occurred during the overseas mobility test, the 9th Wing Commander firmly supported the new concept. When the wing redeployed to Mountain Home AFB in mid-January 1958, it remained in the FRESH APPROACH organizational structure.

On 1 October 1958, the Air Force officially adopted the deputy-commander concept and the 9th Bombardment Wing became the first unit to officially convert to the new organizational structure. The change made it possible for the Air Force to launch an immediate retaliatory strike in response to nuclear attack on the United States. Massive retaliation became a cornerstone of national policy and an effective deterrent to perceived threats. For its meritorious service in testing and refining the reorganization, the 9th Bombardment Wing received the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

To reflect its expanding role as a bomber-missile unit, the 9th Bombardment Wing became the 9th Strategic Aerospace Wing on 1 April 1962. On 13 April the wing received its first HGM-25A Titan I multistage ICBM. The Wing continued to fulfill its nuclear deterrence role until 1966.

Between 1962-1965, the 9th Bomb Wing operated some EB-47E Stratojets, a classified program which were electronics countermeasure conversions of the standard B-47E. These was equipped with what was known as the Phase IV (or Blue Cradle) ECM package, consisting of 16 AN/ALT-6B electronic jammers mounted on a cradle inside the bomb bay. Some of the EB-47ss carried a pressurized capsule inside the bomb bay that carried two electronics warfare officers that operated a suite of up to 13 different jammers that could focus on specific threats.

On 8 November 1965, SAC and Tactical Air Command completed a transfer agreement assigning Mountain Home to TAC effective 1 January 1966, with TAC transferring Bergstrom AFB, Texas to SAC. The 9th Air Refueling Squadron, inactivated on 15 December 1965. On 1 January 1966 the 9th Strategic Aerospace Wing became a tenant unit and was declared non-operational It began final phase‑out at Mountain Home AFB. The last B-47E departed on 10 February and the personnel followed soon after.

Beale Air Force Base

Emblem of the 4200th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing
Lockheed SR-71 in flight

In July 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the development of the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird strategic reconnaissance aircraft. This new and advanced aircraft would give SAC a reconnaissance capability that far exceeded any then available in terms of speed, altitude, and increased area coverage. In December 1964, the Department of Defense announced that the 4200th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing would activate at Beale AFB, California on 1 January 1965 as the parent unit of the SR‑71. To prepare Beale AFB for its new mission, contractors lengthened the runway, remodeled the former Air Defense Command Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) building, and constructed several new facilities, including 337 additional housing units.

In January 1966, the first SR-71 touched down on the Beale runway. The first T-38 Talon, a Northrop built aircraft to be used as a trainer and chase plane for the SR-71, had arrived six months earlier. In October 1965, Fifteenth Air Force suggested the 9th Bombardment Wing be redesignated as the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing to continue the history of the 9th. The Air Force accepted the suggestion. On 25 June 1966, the 4200d SRW inactivated and the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing transferred to Beale to take its place. The Air Force also activated the 9th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron to replace the 4200d RTS. Both the 1st and 99th squadrons moved with the 9th, while the 5th inactivated.

For the remainder of 1966, the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing developed the organization and infrastructure necessary for SR-71 operations. The wing included a Director of Intelligence and a Director of Tests, who monitored the exhaustive testing program in the primary stages. The wing also needed its own supply squadron to handle the specialized supplies and equipment this unique aircraft would need. When the 9th SRW passed the Maintenance Standardization and Evaluation Team (MSET) inspection in March 1967, with the highest rating ever given a SAC wing, wing leaders knew their unit was ready.

Vietnam War

The SR-71 quickly became an important information source for U.S. commanders engaged in the Vietnam War. Until the end of the war in 1975, the 9th SRW gathered photographic and electronic intelligence data on the Southeast Asian nations involved in the conflict. Despite the SR-71's speed and operating altitude, crews risked their lives daily to obtain the latest and best reconnaissance data. Rescuers used SR-71 photos of North Vietnam to plan the 1970 raid on the Son Tay prisoner-of-war camp to free American Prisoners of war.

Post-Vietnam era

Emblem of the 49th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing

Following the end of American involvement in Vietnam, the 9th SRW turned to more peaceful accomplishments. The most spectacular of these were the SR-71 speed runs from New York to London and from London to Los Angeles. On 1 September 1974, Major James Sullivan and his RSO, Major Noel Widdefield, flew their SR-71 from New York to London in one hour, 55 minutes, 42 seconds, an average speed of 1,817 mph. A Royal Air Force F‑4M Phantom II had set the old record of four hours, 46 minutes in 1969. A few days later, on 13 September, Captain Harold "Buck" Adams, with Major William Machorek as RSO, established another record, flying the 5,645 miles from London to Los Angeles in three hours, 48 minutes.

The wing's assault on speed records continued in 1976. On 27 July, Major Adolphus Bledsoe, pilot, and Major John Fuller, RSO, flew the SR-71 over the 1,000-kilometer closed-course at 2,092 mph, beating the Soviet MiG-25 "Foxbat's" record of 1,853 mph by more than 200 mph. The next day, Captain Eldon Joersz, with Major George T. Morgan as RSO, broke the YF-12A's record of 2,070 for the 15-25 kilometer straight course by flying 2,194 mph. Also, on 28 July, Captain Robert Helt and Major Larry Elliot's flight to 85,131 feet broke the YF‑12A's altitude record for horizontal flight.

On 1 July 1976, the 99th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron rejoined the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing as part of a realignment of SAC strategic reconnaissance units. The Lockheed U-2R-equipped 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, the oldest SAC strategic reconnaissance wing, was inactivated and it's aircraft were re-designated as the 99th SRS under the 9th SRW. It also transferred the 100th SRW's refueling and base support missions to the 9th Wing. The 349th and 350th Air Refueling Squadrons became part of the wing and the 9th Combat Support Group and 9th Supply, Transportation, Services, Security Police, and Civil Engineering Squadrons activated. The consolidation smoothed the reconnaissance tasking and response process. The consolidation 0f the 9th and 100th Stratospheric Reconnaissance Wings provided SAC with the following composite organization:

  • 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (SR-71 Blackbird)
  • 99th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (Lockheed U-2R)
  • 349th Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135 Stratotanker)
  • 350th Air Refueling Squadron (KC-135 Stratotanker)
Lockheed TR-1A U-2 Variant

The U-2R, an improved version of the 1955 vintage U-2A, could spend more time "on-station" and cover longer distances without refueling than the SR-71. It was also less expensive to operate. The 9th Wing continued to evolve as the Air Force's first TR‑1 U-2 variant arrived at Beale AFB on the 1 August 1981 and the first production model was assigned six weeks later. Later, the Air Force would drop the TR-1 designation and this aircraft series would also be called U-2s.

With the new aircraft's arrival, the Air Force activated the 4029th Strategic Reconnaissance Training Squadron on 1 August 1981 to train all TR-1 and U-2 pilots. The TR-1s were transferred to the newly-activated 17th Reconnaissance Wing in October 1982. A descendent of the U-2, the Lockheed-built TR-1 would gather tactical reconnaissance data at RAF Alconbury, United Kingdom for USAFE.

In 1986 the Air Force changed the 4029th SRTS designation to the 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Training Squadron, renewing the 5th Squadron's longtime association with the 9th Wing. In February 1986 a devastating flood swept through the neighboring towns of Linda and Olivehurst. The wing welcomed 4,502 people forced from their homes by the flood. The base set up several centers to shelter and feed the evacuees until the water level dropped and they could return to their homes.

As the importance of intelligence collection increased in the 1980s, the wing operated detachments (permanent units) and operating locations (temporary sites) around the world. The British government publicly announced, on 5 April 1982, the stationing of the SR-71 at Detachment 4, RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom. The wing also established Operating Location OLYMPIC FLAME (OL-OF), a new U-2 location at Patrick AFB, Florida, on 29 January 1982. OL-OF became Detachment 5 on 1 January 1983.

As world events dictate the need for accurate and timely reconnaissance data, the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing has operated OL's and detachments around the globe, including South Korea, Panama, Okinawa, Cyprus, and Saudi Arabia. An Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (7th oak leaf cluster) for the 1 July 1981 to 30 June 1982 confirmed the excellence with which the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing performed its expanded mission.

In July 1989 the wing flew several missions over Ethiopia, searching for an airplane carrying Congressman Mickey Leland. Later, in October 1989, at the request of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the wing flew U-2 photo missions over the San Francisco and Oakland areas after the strong Loma Prieta earthquake.

A unique chapter of the 9th's history ended on 1 January 1990 when the SR-71 retired. High maintainability and operating costs and the availability of similar intelligence from other sources convinced Air Force officials the aircraft was no longer vital to the national defense. But the Blackbird went out with gusto. On 28 March 1990 Major Don Watkins and his RSO, Major Bob Fowlkes, flew the last SR-71 flight from Beale AFB to the United States Air Force Museum at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.

In the last month of operations from Beale AFB, the SR-71 set the following speed records:

  • West Coast to East Coast of USA
(National Record-Speed Over a Recognized Course): Coast to Coast Distance: 2,404.05 statute miles, Time: 1 hr 07 min 53.69 secs, Average Speed: 2,124.51 mph
(World Record): Distance: 2,299.67 statute miles, Time: 1 hr 04 min 19.89 secs, Average Speed: 2,144.83 mph
(World Record): Distance: 311.44 statute miles, Time: 8 mins 31.97 secs, Average Speed: 2,189.94 mph
(World Record): Distance: 942.08 statute miles, Time: 25 mins 58.53 secs, Average Speed: 2176.08 mph

The above records were confirmed on the 15th March 1990 after the initial release on the 6th March 1990, in the same corresponding order of 212.62 mph, 2153.24 mph, 2205.48 mph and 2242.48 mph

Gulf War

The wing's most notable intelligence operation took place from August 1990 to March 1991 in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In the largest U-2 deployment ever, the wing flew more than 800 missions over the Persian Gulf region. U‑2s tracked Iraqi troop and armor buildups, assessed bomb damage, and monitored a massive oil spill in the Persian Gulf. U-2 pilots even alerted the anti-missile network of inbound Scud missiles. When the ground war ended and most troops returned home, 9th Wing personnel and the U-2s remained in the region to help the United Nations verify Iraqi compliance with the terms of the cease‑fire agreement.

The wing's KC-135Q tankers also contributed during the 1991 Gulf War. Carrying U-2 support people and equipment, the tankers allowed the wing to deploy immediately and begin flying reconnaissance missions over the region. During this initial deployment, the tankers escorted F-117A stealth fighters to the war zone, then served as the F-117's primary refuelers during the war.

Modern era

When the Air Force returned to the group organizational concept, on 19 September 1991, the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing became, simply, the 9th Wing. This action also activated the 9th Operations Group (lineal descendant of WWII's 9th Bombardment Group), the 9th Support Group, the 9th Logistics Group, and the 9th Medical Group. These new groups would streamline and consolidate wing operations. The reorganization strengthened the wing's chain of command by replacing deputy commanders with group commanders. Further Air Force reorganization moved the KC‑135 tankers from Air Combat Command to Air Mobility Command in 1994, therefore, on 1 October 1994, the wing's designation changed again to the 9th Reconnaissance Wing to reflect a more specialized mission.

Another step in the wing's restructuring, the 9th and 609th Organizational Maintenance Squadrons inactivated and the flightline maintenance people moved to the flying squadrons. Several former OMS elements (tanker phase, U-2 periodic inspections, aero repair, and the wheel and tire shop) transferred to the 9th Field Maintenance Squadron, which was re-designated the 9th Maintenance Squadron.

In 1994 Congress allocated $100 million to reactivate three SR-71s. The Senate Appropriations Committee acknowledged that SR-71 had a unique operational capability that no other system could match. Committee members believed the reasons for the aircraft's 1990 retirement were no longer valid. The 9th Reconnaissance Win activated Detachment 2 at Edwards AFB, California to support SR-71 operations. The Air Force accepted the first renovated Blackbird on 28 June 1995. The SR-71 was again operational with a mission-ready crew on 29 August 1995.

In the early 1990s the wing’s personnel and aircraft provided reconnaissance coverage during the crises in Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina. Later, wing U-2s verified compliance with the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the immediate crisis. Then, when Serbia began the “ethnic cleansing” of Albanians in Kosovo, Operation Allied Force halted the killing and restored order. During Operation Allied Force, 9th Reconnaissance Wing U-2s provided over 80% of the targeting intelligence for NATO forces. NATO leadership credited the U-2 with the destruction of 39 surface-to-air missile sites and 28 aircraft of the Serbian military.

President Bill Clinton exercised his line-item veto power at the time, however, and eliminated the Congressionally approved $39 million allocated to the SR-71 program in the fiscal year (FY) 1998 budget. Detachment 2 immediately ceased operations. The United States Supreme Court later declared presidential line-item veto authority unconstitutional. The future of the SR-71 program remained uncertain. Congress did not include funding for the program in its FY 1999 budget. On 7 April 1998, Air Combat Command received a message from the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force ordering cessation of SR-71 operations and disposal of all related assets. The last member of Detachment 2 left Edwards AFB, CA on 10 January 1999. Upon transfer of the two remaining airframes to Air Force Materiel Command, Air Combat Command declared the SR-71 retirement complete as of 15 July 1999. Air Combat Command inactivated Detachment 2, 9th Operations Group, Edwards AFB, CA on 1 August 1999.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The 9th Reconnaissance Wing is the "single-point manager" for the U-2 Dragon Lady and RQ-4 Global Hawk high-altitude reconnaissance fleets. During U.S. military operations in Afghanistan in late 2001 and Iraq in early 2003, the wing also flew the unmanned RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft.

On 19 July 2007 the first operational Global Hawk deployment from Beale began at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, where the Global Hawk is scheduled to be stationed permanently starting in 2009.


  • Established as 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing on 25 April 1949
Activated on 1 May 1949
Redesignated: 9th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, on 1 April 1950
Redesignated: 9th Bombardment Wing, Medium, on 2 October 1950
Redesignated: 9th Strategic Aerospace Wing on 1 April 1962
Designated non-operational, 1 January 1966
Redesignated: 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing on 25 June 1966
Organized 25 June 1966, absorbing personnel and equipment of 4200th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (Inactivated)
Redesignated: 9th Wing on 1 September 1991
Redesignated: 9th Reconnaissance Wing on 1 October 1993.


Attached to: 7th Air Division, 23 May-11 July 1955
Attached to: 3d Air Division, 3–22 October 1955 and 1 October 1957-c. 10 January 1958




  • 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Group: attached 9 November 1949-10 February 1951
  • 9th Strategic Reconnaissance (later, 9th Bombardment; 9th Operations Group): 1 May 1949-16 June 1952; 1 September 1991–present


  • 1st Bombardment (later, 1st Strategic Reconnaissance) Squadron: attached 10 February 1951-15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952-1 September 1991
  • 5th Bombardment (later, 5th Strategic Reconnaissance Training) Squadron: attached 10 February 1951-15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952-25 June 1966; assigned 1 July 1986-30 June 1990
  • 99th Bombardment (later, 99th Strategic Reconnaissance) Squadron: attached 10 February 1951-15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952– 1 April 1971; assigned 30 June 1976-1 September 1991
  • 658th Bombardment Squadron: 1 October 1958-1 January 1962
  • 569th Strategic Missile Squadron: 1 June 1961-25 June 1965
  • 4029th Strategic Reconnaissance Training: 1 August 1981– 1 July 1986
  • 4364th Support (later, 4364th Post Attack Command and Control): 20 July 1962-25 March 1965.


  • Fairfield-Suisun (later, Travis) AFB, California, 1 May 1949
  • Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, 1 May 1953
  • Beale AFB, California, 25 June 1966–present


  • 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Detachment 1, Kadena AB, Okinawa, Japan (SR-71)
Also designated as: Operating Location 8; Operating Location RK
The SR-71's began arriving at Kadena (AKA "The Rock") in March 1968. The operation to transfer the SR-71's from Beale to Kadena was know as "Glowing Heat". On 15 March 1968, OL-8 was declared Operational Ready for SR-71 sorties. The first SR-71 arrived at Kadena on 9 March 1968 and the last aircraft departed on 21 January 1990.
  • 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Detachment 2, Osan AB, South Korea (U-2)
Assumed operations from 100th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, OL-A, September 1976
In October 1994, Det 2 of the 9th RW became the 5th Reconnaissance Squadron (Still at Osan AB) classified reconnaissance mission and under the operational control of United States Pacific Command mainly supporting US forces in Korea.
Detachment 2 was reactivated and operated SR-71 aircraft from Edwards AFB, California, 1995-1998
  • 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Detachment 3, RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus (U-2)
Initially Central Intelligence Agency Detachment "G" (August 1970) after Egypt/Israel Suez Canal fighting and cease fire. Later permanent monitoring of Middle East Ceasefire after 1973 Yom Kippur War. Became 100th SRW OL "Olive Harvest" (1974). Turned over to 9th SRW September 1976, the U-2 operation at RAF Akrotiri continued to be called Operating Location OH until September 1980, then it became Detachment 3 of the 9th SRW, although the name OLIVE HARVEST continues. Two U-2's are stationed at RAF Akrotiri and they are still monitoring the ceasefire agreement between the Egypt and Israel although the present operations in Central Command requires further missions. U-2's also transit through RAF Akrotiri either on going into USAFCENT theater or returning to Beale AFB.
  • 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Detachment 4, RAF Mildenhall, England (SR-71)
SR-71 Reconnaissance Operations at Mildenhall were from April 1976 to 1990. Prior to Det 4 being established, UK permission was required for each sortie flown. The SR's stay was to be no longer than 20 days for each visit. On 5 April 1982 Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announced that Det 4 would be a permanent SR-71 Detachment with two aircraft assigned. The United Kingdom remained in control of the more sensitive missions. The two aircraft Detachment ceased operations on 22 November 1989. The last aircraft departed the UK on 18 January 1990, the other SR-71 now at Duxford American Air Museum (#962).
  • 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Detachment 5, Patrick AFB, Florida (U-2)
Also designated as: Operating Location LF, primarily operated missions over Nicaragua, El Salvador, Haiti and other South American areas (OLYMPIC FIRE)
Prior to September 1976, OLYMPIC FIRE missions were flown by 100th SRW over Cuba Aug 1972 to May 1974
  • 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Detachment 6, USAF Plant 42, Palmdale, California (SR-71)
Logistics and Depot-level overhaul (Norton AFB).
  • 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Operating Location FR, Istres AB, France (U-2)
Flew U-2 missions over Balkans in support of NATO operations in Bosnia and Kosovo during 1990s.
  • 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing Operating Location OL-CH (Crested Harvest) (U-2)
King Fahd International Airport; Taif Air Base, Saudi Arabia (1991 Gulf War)
On 17 August 1990 two 9th SRW U-2's deployed to King Fahad and Taif from Beale. Also 2 U-2s from 9th SRW Det 2 at Osan AB. Also six TR-1s from 17th RW at RAF Alconbury.
Flew "OLYMPIC FLARE" Missions which saw aircraft equipped with SYERS, ASARS , IRIS, H-CAM and SENIOR SPAN sensors. On the 21/09/1990 OL-CH was designated 1704th Reconnaissance Squadron (Provisional). During the deployment (Aug 90-Feb 91) U-2s flew 564 missions; 4,561.6 hours flown.
  • 4404th Provisional Wing, later: 363d Air Expeditionary Wing rotational deployment of U-2s from Beale, 1991-2003 at Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia. (Ongoing CENTAF monitoring mission over Iraq)
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, Al Dhafra AB, United Arab Emirates, 99th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron rotational deployment of U-2s from Beale since early 2002-Present (USAFCENT missions)

Aircraft and Missiles

  • B/RB-17 Flying Fortress, 1949–1950
  • B-29 Superfortress, 1949–1954
  • RB-29 Superfortress (Reconnaissance), 1949–1951
  • KB-29 Superfortress (Tanker), 1953
  • RB-36 Peacemaker, 1949–1950, 1951
  • B-47 Stratojet, 1954–1966
  • KC-97 Stratotanker, 1954–1965
  • HGM-25A Titan I, 1962–1965
Operated three missile sites: (1 Jun 1961-25 Jun 1965)
569-A, 12 miles SW of Hot Spring, Idaho 42°40′14″N 115°52′02″W / 42.67056°N 115.86722°W / 42.67056; -115.86722 (569-A)
569-B, 7 miles E of Oreana, Idaho 43°03′58″N 116°15′50″W / 43.06611°N 116.26389°W / 43.06611; -116.26389 (569-B)
569-C, 3 miles NE of Orchard, Idaho 43°20′42″N 115°59′33″W / 43.345°N 115.9925°W / 43.345; -115.9925 (569-C)


The crest and motto were approved for the 9th Reconnaissance Wing on 1 July 1952 upon its inherited lineage of the 9th Bombardment Group. The shield, in black and green, represents the old colors of the Air Service parted by a wavy line representing the Rio Grande and the 1st Aero Squadron's operations in 1916. On the gold band are four black crosses representing four WWI offensives, Aisne-Marne, Champagne-Marne, Meuse-Argonne, and St. Mihiel, in which squadrons later assigned to the 9th Wing fought. The crest recalls the service in Mexico of the 1st Aero Squadron.


Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

  • 1 September 1991 to 30 June 1993
  • 1 July 1994 to 30 June 1995
  • 1 June 1996 to 31 May 1998
  • 1 June 1998 to 31 May 2000
  • 1 June 2000 to 31 May 2002

See also

  • List of B-47 units of the United States Air Force


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Mixer, Ronald E., Genealogy of the STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND, Battermix Publishing Company, 1999
  • Mixer, Ronald E., STRATEGIC AIR COMMAND, An Organizational History, Battermix Publishing Company, 2006.
  • Maurer, Maurer, Air Force Combat Units of World War II, Office of Air Force history (1961). ISBN 0-405-12194-6
  • Morrison, Wilbur H., Point of No Return: The Story of the Twentieth Air Force (1979), ISBN 0-8129-0738-8
  • Ravenstein, Charles A., Air Force Combat Wings 1947–1977, Office of Air Force History (1984). ISBN 0-912799-12-9
  • Rogers, Brian. United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, UK: Midland Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  • Air Force Historical Research Agency fact sheet
  • Official fact sheet

External links

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