Wing RC-135 Cobra Ball
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Role||Reconnaissance, Electronic Combat|
|Part of||Air Combat Command|
Twenty-Fifth Air Force
|Garrison/HQ||Offutt Air Force Base|
|Motto(s)||Pursuit to Defend (from 1942) Videmus Omnia Latin We See All (after 1954)|
|Decorations||Distinguished Unit Citation|
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
|As of 3 June 2015[update]||Marty Reynolds|
|55th Wing emblem (Approved 15 June 1994)[note 1]|
|55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing emblem (Approved 4 February 1954)|
The 55th Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to Air Combat Command. The wing is primarily stationed at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, but maintains one of its groups and associated squadrons at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona as a geographically separated unit.
The wing's mission is to provide worldwide reconnaissance, real-time intelligence, command and control, information warfare and combat support to U.S. leaders and commanders. One of the wing's units, the 55th Operations Group, operates 46 aircraft, including 13 models of seven different types. It is the largest wing in Air Combat Command and flies the most diverse number of aircraft.
- 55th Communications Group
- Provides worldwide command, control, communications and computer (C4) systems, information management and combat support to warfighting and national leadership. It also provides communications technology and support to the 55th Wing and 44 tenant units.
- Provides combat-ready EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, crews, maintenance and operational support to combatant commanders. Stationed at: Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona
- 55th Maintenance Group
- Provides centralized direction of all maintenance staff functions providing support to world-wide aircraft reconnaissance missions.
- 55th Medical Group
- Serves 50K beneficiaries with extensive outpatient clinic capabilities and ancillary support.
- 55th Mission Support Group
- Provides vital mission support for Offutt Air Force Base through engineering, security, mission support, services, supply, transportation, contracting and deployment readiness programs.
- ACC's largest group, has operational control over 12 squadrons and two detachments worldwide. It employs 46 aircraft, including 13 models of seven different types.
- 55th Wing Staff
Flying units and assigned aircraft
38th Reconnaissance Squadron, RC-135
45th Reconnaissance Squadron, OC-135, RC-135, TC-135, WC-135
82d Reconnaissance Squadron,(Kadena Air Base, Japan), RC-135
95th Reconnaissance Squadron,(RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom), RC-135
338th Combat Training Squadron - aircrew training
343d Reconnaissance Squadron, RC-135
- For additional history and lineage, see 55th Operations Group
The "Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth" has made significant contributions to the defense of the United States of America for more than 50 years. Since its inception, the unit has operated around the world, flying a wide variety of aircraft.
On 1 November 1950, the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing (55 SRW) was activated under the Wing Base Organization at Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico as the headquarters for the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Group and its supporting units. From 1950 to 1954 the Wing's task was to perform strategic reconnaissance, charting photography, precise electronic geodetic mapping, and electronic reconnaissance missions. In 1952, the wing moved to Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas and converted to Boeing RB-50 Superfortresses. On 13 March 1953, a wing RB-50 flying out of Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska was attacked by Soviet Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 fighters near Siberia, but was able to ward off the fighter's attack with defensive fire. The United States protested the attack, stating the plane was on a weather reconnaissance flight over international waters, 25 miles from the Kamchatka Peninsula. The Soviets responded by saying the plane was intercepted over their territory near Cape Krestovoi. A little more than three months later, on 29 July 1953 an RB-50 of the wing's 343d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron was shot down by Soviet fighters about ninety miles south of Vladivostok.[note 2] The Soviet Union did not deny the plane's location was over water, but claimed that the bomber had twice flown over Soviet territory and fired on their MiGs, who then returned fire defensively.
The wing formally assumed a global strategic reconnaissance mission in 1954 and transitioned to the RB-47E "Stratojet." The Wing was deployed at Ben Guerir Air Base, in what was then French Morocco, between May and August 1955.
When the mapping and charting functions originally assigned to the 55th Reconnaissance Group were transferred on 1 May 1954, the wing assumed the mission of global strategic reconnaissance, including electronic reconnaissance. It also carried out weather reconnaissance operations until June 1963, and photographic reconnaissance missions until May 1964.
The 55 SRW moved to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, in August 1966. That same year the 55th’s 38th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron assumed responsibility for SAC’s airborne command and control system. The 2d Airborne Command and Control Squadron inherited this mission after activation in April 1970. The 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron, flying E-4A aircraft, transferred to the 55th on 1 November 1975, bringing with it the National Emergency Airborne Command Post, now called the National Airborne Operations Center. The Wing flew reconnaissance operations during the U.S. military operations in Grenada in 1983 and Libya in 1986. On 1 March 1986, the 55 SRW became the host unit at Offutt after the inactivation of the 3902d Air Base Wing.
The Wing ended nearly twenty-five years of continuous Airborne Command Post ('Looking Glass') operations in 1990, assumed a modified alert posture, and continued worldwide reconnaissance. In October 1998, the wing transferred control of the EC-135 LOOKING GLASS mission to the United States Navy's TACAMO aircraft and the 7th Airborne Command and Control Squadron, which flew the EC-135 LOOKING GLASS aircraft, inactivated.
The wing deployed a Rivet Joint RC-135 from Hellenikon Air Base, Greece to Riyadh Air Base, Saudi Arabia on 8 August 1990, and began 24-hour-a-day reconnaissance of the region two days later for Central Command Commander Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, under Operation Desert Shield. At the start of Operation Desert Storm, 18 January 1991, the wing continued to provide real-time information. In 1996, this operation moved to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia. On 9 August 2015, the wing celebrated 25 years of what is believed to be the longest continuous deployment by an Air Force unit.
The 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing became the 55th Wing on 1 September 1991, to reflect the wing’s performance of a diversity of missions. When SAC disestablished and Air Combat Command (ACC) established, the wing transferred to ACC and gained its fifth operational location.
The 55th SRW and the 55th Wing has been awarded the USAF's P. T. Cullen Award five times since 1971 for its contributions to photo and signal intelligence collection.
- Established as the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing on 29 June 1948
- Activated on 19 July 1948
- Inactivated on 14 October 1949
- Redesignated 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Medium on 27 October 1950
- Activated on 1 November 1950
- Redesignated: 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing on 16 August 1966
- Redesignated: 55th Wing on 1 September 1991
- 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Group (later 55th Operations Group): 19 July 1948 – 14 October 1949; 1 November 1950 - 16 June 1952; 1 September 1991 – present
- 55th Electronic Combat Group: 3 February 2003 – present
- 1st Airborne Command and Control Squadron: 1 November 1975 – 6 October 2016
- 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (Provisional): attached 1 September-9 October 1948
- 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron: attached 10–26 October 1948; attached 14 January-1 June 1949
- 2d Airborne Command and Control Squadron: 1 April 1970 – 19 July 1994
- 7th Airborne Command and Control Squadron: 19 July 1994 – 1 October 1998
- 23d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron: attached 1–17 June 1949
- 38th Reconnaissance: attached 6 January 1951 – 15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952 – 1 April 1970; assigned 1 April 1979 – Present.
- 24th Reconnaissance Squadron, 7 July 1992 – 30 June 1994
- 45th Reconnaissance Squadron, 1 July 1994 – Present
- 55th Air Refueling Squadron: attached 8 January 1951 – 15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952 – 18 February 1954; assigned 1 October 1955 – 15 March 1963 (detached 31 October-27 December 1956)
- 55th Mobile Command and Control Squadron: 1984-29 September 2006
- 82d Reconnaissance Squadron: 2 October 1991 – present
- 97th Intelligence Squadron: ?–present
- 323d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron: attached 19 September-10 October 1949
- 338th Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron: attached 25 November 1950 – 15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952 – 15 June 1963; assigned 25 March-25 December 1967
- 343d Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron (later 343d Reconnaissance Squadron): attached 19 July-26 October 1948; attached 4 January 1951 – 15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952 - Present.
- 390th Intelligence Squadron ?–present
- 488th Intelligence Squadron?–present
- 548th Strategic Missile Squadron: attached 1–31 August 1964, assigned 1 September 1964 – 25 March 1965
- 922d Reconnaissance Squadron: 1 June 1992 – 30 June 1994
- Topeka Air Force Base (later Forbes Air Force Base), Kansas, 19 July 1948 – 14 October 1949
- Ramey Air Force Base, Puerto Rico, 1 November 1950
- Forbes Air Force Base, Kansas, 5 October 1952
- Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, 16 August 1966 – present
Aircraft and missiles
- List of B-29 units of the United States Air Force
- List of B-50 units of the United States Air Force
- List of B-47 units of the United States Air Force
- This emblem was approved for the 55th Fighter Group with a different shape on 18 February 1942. Maurer, Combat Units, p. 117. It was adopted by the wing on 20 November 1951, but later replaced. It was restored as the wing emblem in 1994.
- The plane was temporarily attached to the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron for the mission. Farquhar, p. 46
- "Fightin' Fifty-Fifth welcomes new commander". 55th Wing Public Affairs. 3 June 2015. Archived from the original on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- Robertson, Patsy (31 December 2009). "Factsheet 55 Wing (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Archived from the original on 29 September 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- Ravenstein, pp. 88-90
- "25 years on the hunt". 55th Wing Public Affairs. 13 August 2015. Archived from the original on 24 August 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- Farquhar, pp. 45-47
- Amann, Wayne (30 September 2014). "25 AF: New chapter in a storied legacy". 25 AF Public Affairs. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2016.
- Farquhar, John T. (2015). "Aerial Reconnaissance, the Press, and American Foreign Policy, 1950-1954" (PDF). Air Power History. Air Force Historical Foundation. 62 (4). Retrieved 6 January 2016.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) . Air Force Combat Units of World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979.
- Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-912799-12-9.
- Liewer, Steve (26 June 2018). "More than 50 years old already, Offutt's recon planes are scheduled to keep flying till 2050". Omaha World-Herald.
- Offut Air Force Base units - 55th Wing
- 55th Wing Fact Sheet
- USAF Aircraft Serial Number Search
- "A Tale of Two Airplanes" by Kingdon R. "King" Hawes, Lt Col, USAF (Ret.)