|Active||1943–1944; 1954–1958; 1958–1959; 1966–1979; 1984–1994; 2007–present|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Role||Unmanned Aerial Vehicle reconnaissance and attack|
|Part of||Air Combat Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Creech Air Force Base, Nevada|
|Motto(s)||Victoria per Scientam Latin Victory Through Knowledge|
|Decorations||Presidential Unit Citation|
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Combat "V" Device
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Vietnamese Gallantry Cross with Palm
|Col Julian "Ghost" Cheater|
|John G. Lorber |
Michael E. Ryan
|432nd Wing emblem (approved 2 June 1955)[note 1]|
|432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Group emblem as originally approved|
The 432nd Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to Air Combat Command at Creech Air Force Base near Indian Springs, Nevada. It flies General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper and RQ-170 Sentinel Unmanned aerial vehicles.
The group operates unmanned reconnaissance aircraft which provide real-time reconnaissance, surveillance, and precision attack against fixed and time-critical targets. The 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing is a provisional unit assigned to Air Combat Command and is the designation for components of the 432nd Wing when deployed into combat areas as part of the Global War on Terror.
The wing is the first United States Air Force wing dedicated to unmanned aircraft systems: MQ-9 Reaper and RQ-170 Sentinel. The wing stood up 1 May 2007 at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. The wing has dual reporting responsibilities to Ninth Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Central Command (USAFCENT) (as the 432nd AEW) at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, as well as to Twelfth Air Force and U.S. Air Forces Southern Command at Davis–Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona.
The 432nd is authorized 160 Predator and 60 Reapers. As of May 2007, 6 Reapers and about 85 Predators have been delivered with half of the Predators deployed forward in the United States Central Command area of operations. The wing is expected to fly 12 combat air mission in Iraq and Afghanistan each day.
The wing includes two operations groups and a maintenance group.
The 432nd Observation Group was activated on 22 February 1943. It served as the operational training unit (OTU) of the USAAF School of Applied Tactics at Keystone Army Air Field, Florida. The group trained and provided reconnaissance to assist fighter, bombardment, and ground units with their training. Aircraft included Bell P-39 Airacobra fighter and Aeronca L-3 Grasshopper light observation aircraft. The group was disbanded on 1 November 1943.
On 23 March 1953, the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Group was activated at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. The new group's mission was to assume the reconnaissance training mission previously carried out by the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.
The group initially conducted training with two squadrons (20th, 29th) flying the Republic RF-84F Thunderflash and two squadrons (41st, 43rd) flying the Martin RB-57A Canberra. In 1957, the group upgraded the 20th and 29th to the McDonnell RF-101C Voodoo, and the 41st and 43rd transitioned to the electronic warfare Douglas EB-66 Destroyer.
When elevated to the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing on 8 February 1958, the wing operated the USAF Advanced Flying Training School, Tactical Reconnaissance. With the elevation to wing status, the 432nd TFW was realigned to a four squadron RF-101C wing (17th, 18th, 20th, 29th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons). From 8 February 1958 to 18 June 1959 the wing was supervised by the 837th Air Division.
To reduce costs, the 432nd TRW was inactivated on 8 April 1959. The RF-101C equipped 17th and 18th TRSs were deployed to NATO, being reassigned to the 66th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Laon-Couvron Air Base, France and the 20th and 29th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadrons continued their training missions under the 363rd TRW.
On 18 September 1966, the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing was activated at Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand as a RF-4C Phantom II wing. The wing assumed the personnel, aircraft and equipment of the 6234th Tactical Fighter Wing, which was simultaneously discontinued. At Udon, it became one of the most diversified units of its size in the Air Force.
The mission of the wing was to provide intelligence information about hostile forces through tactical reconnaissance and use its fighter elements to destroy the targets earmarked by the intelligence data provided. The wing had numerous missions in the support area. The 432nd TRW accounted for more than 80 percent of all reconnaissance activity over North Vietnam.
In addition to the reconnaissance mission, the 432nd also had a tactical fighter squadron component, with two (13th Tactical Fighter Squadron, 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron) F-4C/D squadrons assigned. The squadrons flew strike missions over North Vietnam and the pilots and weapon systems officers of the 13 TFS and 555 TFS were credited with MiG kills.
In 1968, the 7th Airborne Command and Control Squadron, flying specialized Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft, became part of the 432nd. The squadron had been attached to the wing as a temporary duty unit from Da Nang Air Base, South Vietnam. Another unit assigned was the 4th Special Operations Squadron flying various (Douglas AC-47 Spooky and Fairchild AC-119 Stinger) gunships that supported ground units.
On 19 March 1969, the wing proposed a new forward air control program to 7th Air Force. Calling for photo reconnaissance in conjunction with Fast FACs, it offered the advantage of speedier fresher intelligence from aerial photo interpretation. The mission was approved, and the Wing's volunteers were trained by "Misty" and "Stormy" FACs. The first combined FAC/photo mission was flown on 26 April 1969. The Fast FAC used call sign "Falcon"; the photo recce plane used "Atlanta". The call signs "Laredo" and "Whiplash" were also sometimes used. By July, they were asked to augment the efforts of the "Tiger" FACs in the Operation Barrel Roll area of Laos. While supporting Operation About Face, they improvised mass bombings by 16 to 20 fighter-bombers three times in September 1969. One of these mass raids inflicted heavy casualties on a concentration of about 1,000 communist troops. In November, they discovered 102 new targets; the following month, they found 172 more. To do this, they pressed lower than 4,000 feet altitude. In the last quarter of 1969, 21 of their aircraft suffered battle damage. They were then ordered to remain above 4,500 feet altitude to escape ground fire. Regardless of their operating altitude, their bomb damage assessment record was triple the average for 7th Air Force units.
In the fall of 1970 the wing was phased down as part of the overall U.S. withdrawal from the Vietnam War; however, in 1972 tactical fighter strength was augmented by deployed Tactical Air Command CONUS-based tactical fighter squadrons being attached to the 432nd in response to the North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam. In addition, the 421st Tactical Fighter Squadron was reassigned from Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base. During Operation Linebacker, between May and October 1972, the 432nd TRW had seven F-4 tactical fighter squadrons assigned or attached, (13th, 56th, 308th, 414th, 421st, 523rd and 555th) making it the largest wing in the USAF. The three Vietnam era Airforce Aces all came from the 432nd – two from the 555th and one from the 13th. The CONUS-based squadrons returned to the United States in the fall of 1972.
As a result of the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, the numbers of USAF personnel and aircraft at Udorn were reduced. The 421st TFS was inactivated in August and the 555th moved to Luke Air Force Base in 1974. By the spring of 1975, two operational squadrons remained, the 14th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (RF-4C) and the 13th TFS (F-4D/E).
Forces from the 432nd participated in the SS Mayaguez action in May 1975, sinking two Cambodian Khmer Rouge ships. By 1975, the political climate between Washington and Bangkok had become sour and the Royal Thai Government wanted the USAF out of Thailand by the end of the year. Palace Lightning was the plan under which the USAF would withdraw its aircraft and personnel from Thailand.
The 423nd TFW was inactivated on 23 December 1975. The 13th TFSs F-4E aircraft and some support personnel were reassigned to the 3rd TFW at Clark AB, Philippines and the F-4D aircraft and support personnel to the 18th TFW at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. The 14th TRS was inactivated and the RF-4Cs were sent to Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. The last USAF personnel departed Udorn RTAFB on 8 January 1976.
The 432nd was reactivated at Davis–Monthan AFB, Arizona on 1 July 1976 as the 423nd Tactical Drone Group. The 432nd performed photographic reconnaissance to support tactical air and surface forces with tactical drones. Used AQM-34L/M/V drones, DC-130 launch vehicles, and CH-3 recovery helicopters. The group conducted follow-on testing and evaluation of the AQM-34V model drone and the initial operational testing and evaluation and developmental testing and evaluation of the DC-130H "mother ship." The 432nd also supported testing and evaluation of the BQM-34C drone at Hill AFB, Utah.
The group was inactivated in April 1979.
In July 1984 the 432nd was again reactivated as the 432nd Tactical Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The 432nd controlled two General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon squadrons (13th Fighter Squadron, 14th Fighter Squadron) and the 39th Rescue Squadron, flying the HH-60 "Pave Hawk" helicopter.
The wing was reactivated at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, on 1 May 2007 as the Air Force's first unmanned aircraft systems wing. It was renamed the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing in May 2008.
In support of relief for the victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, on 27 January 2010 the wing began flying two RQ-1 Predator orbits over Port-au-Prince with six Predators from a training unit flying out of Rafael Hernández Airport, a civilian airport in Puerto Rico, by a detachment of about 50 wing members.
An additional operations group for the wing, the 732nd Operations Group, was constituted on 9 August 2012, and subsequently activated on 10 September 2012. It initially included three reconnaissance squadrons, the 17th, 22nd, and 30th, two of which later became attack squadrons.