363d Flying Training Group

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363d Training Group
363dtg-standup-ceremony.jpg
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

Streamer AFE.PNG
Armed Forces Expeditionary

Southwest Asia Service Streamer.png
Operation Desert Storm

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

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[edit]

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

363d Reconnaissance Wing[edit]

The 363d Reconnaissance Wing was activated on 15 August 1947 when the Army Air Forces introduced the experimental wing base organization which established a single wing on each base. It was stationed at Langley Field, Virginia in December 1947 by the newly established USAF. It was redesignated the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing on 27 August 1948. President Truman’s reduced 1949 defense budget required reductions in the number of groups in the Air Force to 48 and the unit was inactivated on 26 April 1949.[1] Once North Korea invaded South Korea, this constraint was removed and the group 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 Air Base Japan for Korean War service and began operations in August 1950 as part of the 543d Tactical Support Group.

President Kennedy presents AFOUA to the 363 TRW in 1962 in recognition of the unit's actions associated with the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Douglas RB-66B 53-475 of the 39th Tactical Electronics Warfare Training Squadron[note 1]
McDonnell RF-101C-65-MC Voodoo Serial No. 56-0068 of the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. [note 2]
McDonnell RF-4C-34-MC Phantom II Serial No. 67-0436 of the 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron in October 1986. [note 3]

On 1 April 1951, the 363d TRW was transferred to Shaw Air Force Base, 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 July 1954, the wing began to receive Martin RB-57A Canberra aircraft and achieved initial operational capability before the month was over. These were the first operational RB-57As in the Air Force, although the 345th Bombardment Wing had received a handful earlier to conduct transition training for its crews.[2]

In January 1956, the wing's 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron was the first in the Air Force to receive jet powered Douglas RB-66B Destroyers. The RB-66B was the first operational model of the B-66. Although initially, the RB-66B had a limited all weather capability, its arrival permitted the retirement of the obsolescent RB-26s and the early retirement of the problem-ridden RB-57As. Deliveries of the RB-66Bs permitted the activation of two additional squadrons in the wing's 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group, the 41st and 43d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons.[3]

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[edit]

17th Fighter Squadron General Dynamics F-16A Block 10D Fighting Falcon Serial No 80-0537. [note 4]
Fairchild Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II AF Serial No. 79-0206 of the 21st Fighter Squadron, 29 September 1993.

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[edit]

A 363d Air Expeditionary Wing F-15 Eagle takes off at Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, during Operation Southern Watch
An F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot assigned to the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing, prepares for takeoff before a mission from a forward-deployed location in Southwest Asia on 27 March 2003 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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.[4] 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 Flying Training Group[edit]

On 12 March 2007, Air Combat Command designated and organized the 363d Flying Training Group (Provisional) at Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates to facilitate the training of airmen from various nations. On 1 June, this organization was made permanent when the 363d wing was redesignated the 363d Flying Training Group and activated, assuming the mission, personnel and equipment of the provisional group. On 21 July 2011, the 363d Flying Training Group was inactivated.[5] 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 363d Flying Training Group was inactivated.

Lineage[edit]

Emblem of the 363d Reconnaissance Wing
Emblem of the 363d Fighter Wing
Desert Emblem of the 363d Expeditionary Wing
  • Designated as the 363d Reconnaissance Wing on 29 July 1947
Organized on 15 August 1947
Discontinued on 27 August 1948
  • Constituted as the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing
  • Activated on 27 August 1948
Inactivated on 26 April 1949
  • Activated on 1 September 1950
Redesignated 363d Tactical Fighter Wing ion 1 October 1981
Redesignated 363d Fighter Wing on 1 October 1991
Inactivated on 30 December 1993
  • Redesignated 363d Air Expeditionary Wing, Converted to provisional status and allotted to Air Combat Command to activate or inactivate any time on 1 October 1998
Activated on 1 December 1998
Inactivated on 26 August 2003
Redesignated 363d Flying Training Group and withdrawn from provisional status on 25 March 2007
Activated on 1 June 2007
Inactivated on 11 July 2011

Assignments[edit]

  • Ninth Air Force, 15 August 1947 – 27 August 1948
  • Ninth Air Force, 27 August 1948 – 26 April 1949
Attached to First Air Force, 15 January-1 February 1949
  • Tactical Air Command, 1 September 1950
  • Ninth Air Force, 2 April 1951
  • Tactical Air Division Provisional, 25 April 1951
  • Ninth Air Force, 11 October 1951
Attached to Twenty-Ninth Air Force [Tactical] [Provisional], 31 October-10 December 1955

Components[edit]

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; 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[edit]

  • Langley Field (later Langley Air Force Base), Virginia, 15 August 1947 – 27 August 1948
  • Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, 27 August 1948 – 26 April 1949
  • Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, 1 September 1950 – 12 March 1951
  • Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, 2 April 1951 – 30 December 1993
  • Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, 1 December 1998 – 26 August 2003
  • Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, 1 June 2007

Aircraft[edit]

See also[edit]


References[edit]

Explanatory Notes[edit]

  1. ^ This plane is now at the National Museum of the United States Air Force
  2. ^ This aircraft is currently on static display at the Keesler AFB, Mississippi Air Park.
  3. ^ Note the NATO European camouflage scheme, "SW" tail code and low visibility USAF markings. This was one of the last RF-4Cs flown by the 363d TFW before their retirement in 1989.
  4. ^ This aircraft was previously a static display at Lockheed-Martin Fort Worth, TX. On 19 March 2004 it was noted to be in use as a ground instructional airframe at NAS Fort Worth JRB, Texas.

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Knaack, p. 25
  2. ^ Knaack, p. 313
  3. ^ Knaack, p. 419
  4. ^ Globalsecurity.org, Joint Task Force Southwest Asia. Retrieved January 2009
  5. ^ Master Sergeant Chance Babin, AFCENT Stands Up Air Warfare Center, 380 AEW Public Affairs, 11 August 2011

Bibliography[edit]

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

  • Knaack, Marcelle Size (1988). Encyclopedia of US Air Force Aircraft and Missile Systems. Vol. 2, Post-World War II Bombers 1945-1973. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-59-5. 

Further reading

External links[edit]