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55th Wing
Active1948–1949; 1950–present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
RoleReconnaissance, Electronic Combat
Part ofAir Combat Command
Garrison/HQOffutt Air Force Base
Nickname(s)The Fightin' Fifty-Fifth[1]
Motto(s)Pursuit to Defend (from 1942)[2] Videmus Omnia Latin We See All (after 1954)[3]
DecorationsDistinguished Unit Citation
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
As of June 2021Colonel Kristen D. Thompson
55th Wing emblem (Approved 15 June 1994)[4][note 1]
55th Wing.png
55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing emblem (Approved 4 February 1954)[3]
55 Strategic Reconnaissance Wg emblem.png

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 55 WG is the only Air Force wing with continuous operations, maintenance, and aircraft presence in the United States Central Command area of responsibility since Operation Desert Storm.[5]

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.


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.

Cold War

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.[citation needed] 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.[6]

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.[5]

Current operations

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.

Aircraft and crews from the unit have at times temporarily relocated to the nearby Lincoln Air National Guard Base when Offutt's runway has been closed for repairs.[7]


WC-135W Constant Phoenix
WC-135W Constant Phoenix

The 55th Operations Group is Air Combat Command's largest group, has operational control over 12 squadrons and two detachments worldwide. It employs 46 aircraft, including 13 models of seven different types.

The 55th Communications Group provides worldwide command, control, communications and computer (C4) systems, information management and combat support to war-fighting and national leadership. It also provides communications technology and support to the 55th Wing and 44 tenant units.

Combat-ready EC-130H Compass Call aircraft, crews, maintenance and operational support to combatant commanders is provided by the 55th Electronic Combat Group, based Davis Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona

Operations are supported by the 55th Maintenance Group which provides centralized direction of all maintenance staff functions providing support to world-wide aircraft reconnaissance missions. The 55th Medical Group serves 50,000 beneficiaries with extensive outpatient clinic capabilities and ancillary support and the 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.

Component units and assigned aircraft

Unless otherwise indicated, units are based at Offut AFB, Nebraska, and subordinate units are located at the same location as their commanding group.[8]


Activated on 19 July 1948
Inactivated on 14 October 1949
Activated on 1 November 1950
Redesignated: 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing on 16 August 1966
Redesignated: 55th Wing on 1 September 1991






Aircraft and missiles

See also



Explanatory notes
  1. ^ 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.
  2. ^ The plane was temporarily attached to the 91st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron for the mission. Farquhar, p. 46
  1. ^ "55th Wing". Retrieved 5 July 2022.
  2. ^ Maurer, Combat Units, p. 117.
  3. ^ a b Ravenstein, pp. 88-90
  4. ^ Robertson, Patsy (27 January 2019). "Factsheet 55 Wing (ACC)". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  5. ^ a b "25 years on the hunt". 55th Wing Public Affairs. 13 August 2015. Archived from the original on 24 August 2015. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
  6. ^ Farquhar, pp. 45-47
  7. ^ Losey, Stephen (18 March 2019). "Floodwaters overwhelm one-third of Offutt; nine aircraft evacuated". Air Force Times. Retrieved 8 February 2020.
  8. ^ "55th Wing". Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber). US Air Force. Retrieved 11 April 2020.
  9. ^ "55th Communications Squadron redesignated as cyber squadron". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved 14 September 2021.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Musser, James (22 October 2019). "Factsheet Sixteenth Air Force (Air Forces Cyber) ACC". Air Force Historical Research Agency. Retrieved 8 February 2020.


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency.