363d Training Group

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 363d Training Group

caption= Emblem of the 363d Air Expeditionary Wing
dates= 1943-Present
country= United States
branch= United States Army Air Force
United States Air Force
current_commander= Col. Michael Cosby
garrison= Southwest Asia
motto= VOIR C'EST SAVOIR - "To see is to know"
notable_commanders= Ralph Eberhart

The United States Air Force's 363d Training Group (363 TG) is a USAF unit based in Southwest Asia. The mission of the group is to facilitate the training of airmen from various nations.

The group is under the Air Combat Command's United States Air Forces Central (Ninth Air Force).



* 363d Fighter Group, (March 1943 - September 1944)
* 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group, (September 1944- June 1945)
* 363d Reconnaissance Group, (June 1945 - December 1945)
* 363d Reconnaissance Wing, (August 1947 - August 1948)
* 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, (August 1948 - October 1981)
* 363d Tactical Fighter Wing, (October 1981 - January 1994)
* 363d Air Expeditionary Wing, (1998-2003)
* 363d Training Group, (March 2007 - Present)

In 1952, the USAF 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing was bestowed the World War II lineage, honors, and history of the USAAF 363d Fighter (Later Reconnaissance) Group.

Major Commands

* United States Army Air Forces
** Fourth Air Force (1943)
** Ninth Air Force (1943-45)
** Tactical Air Command (1946-47)
* United States Air Force
** Tactical Air Command (1947-92)
** Air Combat Command (1992-94)
** United States Central Command Air Forces (ACC) (1998-2003, 2007-Present)


* United States Army Air Forces
** Hamilton AAF, California (1943)
** Santa Rosa AAF, California (1943)
** Sacramento AAF, California (1943)
** RAF Keevil, England (1943-44)
** RAF Rivenhall, England (1944)
** RAF Staplehurst, England (1944)
** Various Advanced Landing Ground (ALG)
locations in Europe (1944-45)
** Camp Kilmer, New Jersey (1945)
** Brooks AAF, Texas (1946-47)
* United States Air Force
** Langley Army Airfield (later, AFB), Virginia (1947-51)
** Shaw AFB, South Carolina (1951-94)
** Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia (1998-2003)
** Southwest Asia Location (2007-Present)

Aircraft operated

* United States Army Air Forces
** Bell P-39 Airacobra
** Lockheed F-5 (P-38) Lightning
** North American P-51B/F-6 (P-51) Mustang
** Lockheed RF-80A Shooting Star
** Douglas RB-26 Invader
* United States Air Force
** Republic RF-84F Thunderjet
** Martin RB-57A Canberra
** North American RF-101A/C Voodoo
** Douglas R/E/B-66 Destroyer
** McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom II
** General Dynamics F-16A/C Fighting Falcon
** Fairchild-Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II

World War II

363d Fighter Group

The 363d Training Group has its origins as the 363d Fighter Group, being activated on 1 August 1943 at Hamilton AAFld, California. The original fighter squadrons (380th, 381st, 382d) trained with Bell P-39 Aircobras at Hamilton and other airfields in California and served as part of the air defense force.

The group moved to England in December 1943 for duty with the Ninth Air Force. At RAF Keevil, the group was re-equipped with North American P-51B Mustangs in January 1944 and entered combat in Fembuary. Squadron designations were changed to 160th (A9), 161st (B3) and 162d (C3) Fighter Squadrons and assigned Fuselage Codes. The group escorted bombers and fighter-bombers to targets in France, Germany, and the Low Countries; strafed and dive-bombed trains, marshalling yards, bridges, vehicles, airfields, troops, gun positions, and other targets on the Continent.

The 363d supported the invasion of Normandy in June 1944 by escorting troop carriers and gliders and by attacking enemy positions near the front lines, and moved to the Continent at the end of Jun to take part in the Allied drive to the German border.

In the two weeks following D-Day, the 363rd experienced the most fruitful period of its service in the European Theater of Operations when patrols over France brought it actions with a total of 19 confirmed victories. However, a similar number of Mustangs were lost, albeit mostly to ground fire.

During operations from England, the group was credited with 41 victories but lost 43 of its own aircraft in the process.

363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group

On the continent, the 363d was reorganized into a Reconnaissance group flying the F-5 photo-reconnaissance version of the P-38 Lightning and the F-6 photo-reconnaissance version of the P-51 Mustang at Le Mans airfield, France (A-35). The 380th, 381st and 382d squadrons were redesignated as the 160th, 161st and 162d Reconnaissance Squadrons respectivley. The group flew photographic missions to support both air and ground operations; directed fighter-bombers to railway, highway, and waterway traffic, bridges, gun positions, troop concentrations, and other opportune targets; adjusted artillery fire; and took photographs to assess results of Allied bombardment operations.

It received two Belgian citations for reconnaissance activities, including the group's support of the assault on the Siegfried Line and its participation in the Battle of the Bulge (Dec 1944-Jan 945). The 363d assisted Ninth Army's drive across the Rhine and deep into Germany during the period from February 1945 to V-E Day, eventually being stationed at Wiesbaden, Germany (Y-80) at the end of hostilities in May.

The 363d returned to the United States in December 1945 and was inactivated on 11 December 1945 at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey.

Cold War

363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing

The 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Group was reactivated on 29 July 1946 at Brooks AAFld, Texas. Equipped initially with two squadrons (161st & 162d Reconnaissance Squadron) flying Lockheed FP-80A Shooting Stars for daylight (161st RS) and Douglas FA-26C Invaders (162d RS) for night reconnaissance. In June 1948, the FP-80A was redesignated the RF-80A, and the FA-26C to RB-26C.

The FA/RB-26C was a B-26 with all guns removed and cameras installed throughout the aircraft. Additionally, aircraft intended for night reconnaissance were equipped with photo flash bombs. Some aircraft were also modified for electronic reconnaissance with the installation of radar and signal intelligence gathering equipment.

The FP/RF-80A was an F-80A, with a longer and deeper nose to house cameras in place of the guns in the nose of the aircraft.

The group was placed under the newly activated 363d Reconnaissance Wing 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 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. In addition, the 363d provided combat crew training for reconnaissance aircrews.

The initial operational squadrons and aircraft flown by the 363d TRW were:

* 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Activated 2 April 1951) (RB-26C)
* 17th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Activated 2 April 1951) (RF-80A)
* 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Assigned 2 April 1951. Redesignated from the 161st TRS.) (RF-80A)
* 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Activated 11 Nov 1953) (RB-26C)
* 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Activated 11 Nov 1953-April 1954) (RB-26C)

After the end of the Korean War, the RF-80As were partially brought up to F-80C standards. These RF-80Cs had improved camera installations in a nose of modified contour

RF-84F Era (1954 - 1957)

The RF-84F Thunderflash was the photographic reconnaissance version of the F-84F Thunderstreak. It had many components in common with the F-84F, but differed in having the jet engine fed by a pair of wing root air intakes, the nose being taken up by a bank of cameras. The USAF was in need of a replacement for its aging Lockheed RF-80 Shooting Star unarmed reconnaissance aircraft, and concluded that the F-84F with its wing root air intakes made a good camera-carrying reconnaissance aircraft.

The aircraft camera bay in the nose could accommodate up to six cameras in forward- facing, trimetrogen and individual oblique and vertical installations. The vertical camera bay had hydraulically-operated retractable doors, and behind these doors was an aperture for a vertical viewfinder with a periscope presentation on the cockpit panel. Photoflash ejectors could be carried in underwing tanks for nighttime photograpic reconnaissance missions.

Deliveries of the RF-84F Thunderflash began in March 1954, with the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing being the first USAF recipient. Squadrons equipped were:

363d TRW
* 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Reequipped 1955 - 1957)
* 17th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Reequipped 1954 - 1957)
* 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Reequipped 1955 - 1957)

The service life of the RF-84F with the 363d TRW was relatively short, and were replaced by the McDonnell RF-101 Voodoo aircraft in 1957/1958.

RB-66 Era (1956 - 1974)

The Douglas B-66 Destroyer was originally envisaged as a replacement for the World War II era piston-engined Douglas B-26 Invader in the tactical bombing role for both day and night operations. The aircraft was initially manufactured in two separate versions. A bomber version designated B-66B (Douglas Model 1327A), and a reconnaissance version designated RB-66B (Douglas Model 1329). The RB-66B could be fitted with a removable inflight refuelling probe attached to the right side of the forward fuselage. In addition, the RB-66C was a seven-seat specialized electronic reconnaissance and electronic countermeasures aircraft.

All of these models were basically similar in overall configuration, differing primarily in the equipment carried.

The first USAF RB-66Bs were issued to the 9th TRS in January 1956. They replaced the obsolescent RB-26 Invader. Two more squadrons were equipped with RB-66Bs by the end of the year. The RB-66B very soon became the primary night photographic reconnaissance weapon system of the Tactical Air Command.

In the mid-1960s, some RB-66Bs were modified as EB-66E electronic countermeasures aircraft. All of the reconnaissance equipment was removed and replaced by electronic jamming equipment. The tail turret was removed, and automatic jamming equipment was fitted in its place. Numerous antennae protruded from the aircraft, and chaff dispensing pods were carried. They were used during the Vietnam War as electronic warfare aircraft, joining strike aircraft during their missions over North Vietnam to jam enemy radar installations.

In addition to the RB-66B, RB-66C models entered service with the 9th TRS in February 1956. RB-66C models carried additional ECM equipment in wingtip pods. Chaff dispensing pods could be carried underneath the wing outboard of the engine nacelles. Later examples had the tail turret removed and replaced by additional ECM equipment installed in an extended tailcone. After the tail guns were removed, the gunner's position was usually left empty unless occupied by an instructor pilot or instructor navigator. 363d TRW RB-66Cs carried out missions over Cuba during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. They were first deployed to Southeast Asia in 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.

Operational squadrons of B-66s were:

* 9th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (RB-66B/C) (1956-65)
Reequipped 1956. Inactivated 1965. Deployed aircrew and aircraft PCS to 42d TEWS Takhli RTAFB Thailand.

* 19th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron(RB-66C) (1966-67)
19th Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (EB-66) (1967-69)
Squadron arrived at Shaw from deactivated 25th TRW at Chambley-Bussieres Air Base, France
Inactivated 1968 Deployed aircrew and aircraft PCS to Det 1, 18th TFW ltezuke AB, Japan on 31 December 1968
* 39th Tactical Reconnaissance Training Squadron (JN RB-66C) (1968-69)
39th Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron (JN EB-66C/E) (1969-74)
Squadron formed from 19th TRS RB-66Cs after 19th TRS' equipment change to EB-66.
Absorbed EB-66C assets of the deactivated 4417th CCTS

The 39th TEWTS flew EB-66C/D/E Electronic Warfare aircraft absorbing the assets of the deactivated 4417th CCTS on 10 July 1969 until deactivating on 15 March 1974. 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.

* 41st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (RB-66B)
432d TRW (1956-58) (Reequipped)
363d TRW (1958-59) (aircraft reassigned to 1st TRS at RAF Alconbury, England)
41st Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron (EB-66C) (1965)

On 1 October 1965 the 41st TRS was reactivated as the 41st TEWS, with former USAFE EB-66C aircraft coming from the 10th TRW at RAF Alconbury. Once activated, the 41st TEWS was immediately reassigned to the 355th Wing at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base Thailand.

* 43d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (RB-66B)
432d TRW (1956-58) (Reequipped)
363d TRW (1956-59) (Inactivated. aircraft reassigned to 19th TRS at Spangdahlem Air Base, West Germany)

* 4417th Combat Crew Training Squadron ("JN" RB/EB-66C, EB-66E) (1965-69)
Activated with aircraft received from 25th TRW/42d ECS Chambley-Bussieres Air Base France
Inactivated. Aircrft assigned to 39th TEWS

RF-101 Era (1957 - 1971)

In January 1953, the USAF had asked McDonnell to develop an unarmed photographic reconnaissance version of the F-101 Voodoo as a possible replacement for the Republic RF-84F Thunderflash. The first RF-101A was delivered to the 17th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron on 6 May 1957 as a replacement for the subsonic RF-84F. The RF-101A had a redesigned and longer nose housing four cameras designed for low-altitude photography. In addition, two high-altitude cameras were mounted behind the cockpit in place of the ammunition boxes of the fighter variant.

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 April 1959, the RF-101Cs were put under the control of the 363rd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.

In June 1959, the 4414th Combat Crew Training Squadron became operational with Shaw's 363rd TRW as the replacement training unit for Voodoo reconnaissance pilots.

During the 60s, RFs were involved in the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Pueblo Incident of the Vietnam War. [ [http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/systems/rf-101.htm Global's RF-101 History] ]

Operational RF-101 squadrons were:

* 17th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (6 May 1957 - 10 May 1959) (RF-101A/C)
(Reassigned to 66th TRW)
* 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (RF-101C)
363d TRW (1957 - March 1958)
432d TRW (March 1958 - May 1959) (Reassigned to 66th TRW)
363d TRW (January - November 1970) (Reassigned from 66th TRW.)
* 20th Tactical Reconnaissance (RF-101C)
432d TRW (1957-April 1959)
363d TRW (April 1959-November 1965) (Reassigned to 67th TRW)
* 29th Tactical Reconnaissance (RF-101C)
432d TRW (1957-April 1959)
363d TRW (April 1959-January 1971)
* 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (8 Feb 1958 - 27 Oct 1965) (RF-101C)
* 4414th Combat Crew Training Squadron (8 April 1959 - 15 Oct 1969) (JK, RF-101C)
* 4415th Combat Crew Training Squadron (8 April 1959 - 15 Oct 1969) (JL, RF-101C)
* 31st Tactical Reconnaissance Training Squadron (15 Oct 1969 - 16 Feb 1971) (JK, RF-101C)

The 17th and 18th TRS transferred to 66th TRW Laon-Couvron Air Base France 1959. 18th TRS transferred back to 363d TRW after 66th TRW deactivated at RAF Upper Heyford England 30 Jan 1970.

20th TRS transferred to 67th TRW Kadena AFB, Okinawa 1965 then to Udon RTAFB Thailand, 18 Sep 1966. 4415th TRS formed at Shaw with RF-101C aircraft transferred back to Shaw from 20th TRS at Udon RTAFB.

29th TRS deactivated 24 Jan 1971. RF-101Cs sent to Michigan ANG.

Squadron Tail Codes were added to TAC aircraft beginning in 1966.

Along with the jet age came the opportunity for the pilots of the 363d to set a new world speed record. On November 27, 1957, four RF-101 Voodoos assigned to Shaw lifted off the runway from Ontario County Airport in California. The planes headed for New York and a place in history. The flight, known as Operation Sun Run, successfully broke the transcontinental flight record. The trip took three hours and seven minutes at a record speed of 781.74 mph.

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.

RF-4C Era (1964 - 1989)

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.

Operational RF-4C squadrons of the 363d TRW were:

* 33d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (September 1964 - 1 October 1982) (RF-4C) (Tail Code: JL/JO)
(Activated September 1964. Inactivated October 1982)

* 16th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (Reequipped February 1965 - October 1965) (February 1971 - December 1989) (RF-4C)
Reassigned to 6250th Combat Support Group, Tan Son Nhut Air Base South Vietnam October 1965.
Reassiged from 475th ABW, Misawa AB Japan, February 1971. Inactivated December 1989)
16th TRS tail code changed to "SW" in 1982 along with F-16 squadrons.

* 4415th Combat Crew Training Squadron (1 Feb 1967 - 15 Oct 1969) (JL, white fin cap)
(Reequipped February 1967. Inactivated October 1969. RF-4Cs transferred to 33d TRTS)
33d Tactical Reconnaissance Training Squadron (JL/JO, white fin cap) (15 Oct 1969 - 1 Oct 1982)
4411 Combat Crew Training Group (1 Feb 1967 - 15 June 1969)
Assigned to 363d TRW (15 June - 15 October 1969).

* 18th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (30 Nov 1970 - 30 Sep 1979) (JP/JO, blue fin cap)
(Activated November 1970 Deactivated September 1979 with aircraft being distributed to 33d, 16th and 62d TRSs.)
* 22d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (15 Jul 1971 - 15 Oct 1971) (JO, red fin cap)
Reassigned from 67th TRW, Bergstrom AFB Texas. Inactivated October 1971, personnel and aircraft reassigned to 62d TRS.
62d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (15 Oct 1971 - 1 July 1982) (JO, red fin cap)
Activated October 1971. Inactivated July 1982

363d TRW tail codes standardized in 1972 to "JO".

The armament and radar of the fighter version was removed and replaced with equipment specialized for photographic reconnaissance. Perhaps the most readily-noticeable difference between the F-4C and the RF-4C was the presence of a new, longer, and more pointed nose in which the fire control radar of the fighter was replaced by cameras, mapping radar, and infrared imaging equipment for the reconnaissance role.

EB-57E Canberra

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 deactivated. These aircraft were highly adapted to carry electronic countermeasures and were frequently deployed to Europe to support USAFE fighter activities.

On a typical mission, the EB-57E would fly as an aggressor or faker against U.S. or Allied ground-based radar detection and tracking facilities. Once the ground station began tracking the threat, interceptors were directed to make a simulated attack on the EB-57E. The aircraft were modified with electronic counter measures (ECM) equipment and the rear cockpit was modified for use by the electronic warfare officer. The aircraft also was fitted with a chaff system using chaff dispenser pods mounted on wing pylons.

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 Tactical 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, being equipped with General Dynamics F-16 aircraft.

With the arrival of the F-16 squadrons, the 33d TRS was deactivated. The 62d TRS was reassigned to Bergstrom AFB Texas as the 62d Tactical Reconnaissance Training Squadron. The 16th TRS continued to fly the RF-4C until December 1989, then deactivated.

F-16 Era (1982 - 1994)

On October 1, 1981, the 363d TRW was re-designated as the 363d Tactical Fighter Wing. The wing received its first F-16 on March 26, 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. Operational squadrons of the 363d TFW were:

* 17th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Activated 1 July 1982, white tail stripe, "Owls"/"Hooters")
* 19th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Activated 1 April 1982, yellow tail stripe, "Gamecocks")
* 33d Tactical Fighter Squadron (Reequipped 8 March 1985 - 15 November 1993, blue tail stripe, "Falcons")
* 21st Tactical Fighter Squadron (Activated 1 April 1992, black tail stripe,"Gamblers") (OA-10A)
* 309th Tactical Fighter Squadron (Reassigned from 31st FW, Homestead AFB Florida 1 October 1992)

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.

With the closure of Myrtle Beach Air Force Base South Carolina and the deactivation 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 deactivating 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.

The 33d TRS was deactivated on 15 November 1993. Its F-16C/D aircraft were transferred to the Air National Guard.

On August 9, 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 January 17 and February 28, 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. 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.

363d TFW Inactivation

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.

Post Cold War

363d Air Expeditionary Wing

The 363d Air Expeditionary Wing (363 AEW) was activated in 1998 and replaced the 4404th Wing (Provisional) when the United States Air Force inactivated all 4XXX (MAJCOM) wings. 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 April 28 the CAOC was shifted from PSAB to Al-Udeid in Qatar. On April 29, 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 May 28, 2003 completing a 13-year, continuous mission. 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 Aug. 26, 2003. The ceremony also marked the inactivation of the 363d Air Expeditionary Wing.

363d Training Group

Reactivated 26 March 2007 to facilitate the training of airmen from various nations.

ee also

* 837th Air Division, 8 Feb 1958-1 Feb 1963


* Endicott, Judy G. (1999) Active Air Force wings as of 1 October 1995; USAF active flying, space, and missile squadrons as of 1 October 1995. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. CD-ROM.
* Freeman, Roger A. (1994) UK Airfields of the Ninth: Then and Now 1994. After the Battle ISBN 0900913800
* Freeman, Roger A. (1996) The Ninth Air Force in Colour: UK and the Continent-World War Two. After the Battle ISBN 1854092723
* Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
* Martin, Patrick (1994). Tail Code: The Complete History of USAF Tactical Aircraft Tail Code Markings. Schiffer Military Aviation History. ISBN 0887405134.
* Mueller, Robert (1989). 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. 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 0912799129.
* Rogers, Brian (2005). United States Air Force Unit Designations Since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
* [http://www.armyairforces.com/dbgroups.asp?Group=184] ArmyAirForces.com 363d Fighter Group
* [http://www.patriotfiles.com/article.php?sid=153] Early Photo Jet Recon, Colonel Jean K. Woodyard, USAF Retired

External links

* [http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123046500 Stand-up of training group marks an international homecoming] (363rd Training Group), 2007-03-27, U.S. Central Command Air Forces Public Affairs

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