National Air and Space Intelligence Center
National Air and Space Intelligence Center (seal).jpg
ActiveJuly 1961–Present
Part ofAir Staff A2/6
Garrison/HQWright-Patterson Air Force Base
Organizational Excellence ribbon.svg

The National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) is the United States Air Force unit for analyzing military intelligence on foreign air and space forces, weapons, and systems. NASIC assessments of aerospace performance characteristics, capabilities, and vulnerabilities are used to shape national security and defense policies and supports weapons treaty negotiations and verification.[1]


In 1917 the Foreign Data Section of the Army Signal Corps’ Airplane Engineering Department was established at McCook Field,[2] and a NASIC predecessor operated the Army Aeronautical Museum (now National Museum of the Air Force) initially at McCook and then on August 22, 1935 at Wright Field in Dayton, Ohio.[3][4] The Office of the Chief of Air Corps's Information Division had become the OCAC Intelligence Division by 1939, which transferred into the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) as AC/AS, Intelligence and was known as A-2[5] (in April, 1942, the Air Intelligence School was at the Harrisburg Academy.)[6] The United States Army Air Forces evaluated foreign aircraft during World War II with the "T-2 Intelligence Department at Wright Field and Freeman Field, Indiana".[4] In July 1944, Wright Field analysts fired a V-1 engine reconstructed from "Robot Blitz" wreckage[7] (an entire V-1 was reconstructed at Republic Aviation by September 8).[8][verification needed] Post-war, Operation Lusty recruited German technology experts who were interrogated prior to working in the United States, e.g., Dr. Herbert Wagner at a Point Mugu USMC detachment and Walter Dornberger at Bell Aircraft. The "capability…anticipated for Soviet intercontinental jet bombers" (e.g., in NSC 20/4 in the fall of 1945) determined a Radar Fence was needed for sufficient U.S. warning and that the "1954 Interceptor" (F-106) was needed (specified in the January 13, 1949, Air Development Order): "the appearance of a Soviet jet bomber [was in the] 1954…May Day parade".[9]

"By 1944, it had become obvious that German aeronautical technology was superior in many ways, to that of this country, and we needed to obtain this technology and make use of it," said P-47 and Messerschmitt ME-262 pilot USAAF Lieutenant Roy Brown during a speech at NASIC in 2014. To accomplish this task, then Colonel Harold E. Watson was sent from Wright Field to Europe in 1944, to locate German aircraft of advanced design. Watson would become an integral part of forming the intelligence unit that would eventually become NASIC.[10]

Air Technical Intelligence Center

On May 21, 1951, the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) was established as a USAF field activity of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence.[4] ATIC analyzed engine parts and the tail section of a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 and in July, the center received a complete MiG-15 that had crashed. ATIC also obtained IL-10 and Yak-9 aircraft in operational condition, and monitored a captured MiG-15's flight test program. ATIC awarded a contract to Battelle Memorial Institute for translation and analysis of materiel and documents gathered during the Korean War. Analysis allowed FEAF to develop fighter engagement tactics. In 1958 ATIC had a Readix Computer in Building 828, 1 of 6 WPAFB buildings used by the unit prior to the center built in 1976.[4]

Discoverer 29 (launched April 30, 1961) then photographed the "first Soviet ICBM offensive launch complex" at Plesetsk.[11] The Defense Intelligence Agency was created on October 1.

Foreign Technology Division

In 1961 ATIC became the Foreign Technology Division (FTD) which was reassigned to Air Force Systems Command (AFSC), and FTD intelligence estimates were subsequently provided to the National Security Council through the 1962 United States Intelligence Board (cf. the CIA's Board of National Estimates).[11]: 111  FTD's additional location at the Tonopah Test Range Airport conducted test and evaluation of captured Soviet fighter aircraft (AFSC recruited its pilots from the Edwards AFB Air Force Test Center).[12] The aircraft of the 1966 Iraqi Air Force MiG-21 defection was loaned by Israel to the U.S. Air Force and transferred to Nevada for study.[12] In 1968, the US Air Force and Navy HAVE DOUGHNUT project flew the aircraft at Area 51 for simulated air combat training (renamed HAVE DRILL and transferred to the Tonopah TTR c. 1968). U.S. casualties flying foreign aircraft included those in the 1979 Tonopah MiG-17 crash during training versus a Northrop F-5 and the 1984 Little Skull Mountain MiG-23 crash which killed a USAF general.[13]

FTD detachments were located in Virginia, California (Det 2), Germany, Japan (Det 4), and Det 5—first in Massachusetts and later Colorado (Buckley ANGB).[14] By 1968 FTD had an "Aerial Phenomenon Office"[15] and in 1983, FTD/OLAI at the Cheyenne Mountain Complex published the Analysis of Cosmos 1220 and Cosmos 1306 Fragments.[16]

In 1971 the FTD obtained, translated, and published a copy of the paper Method of Edge Waves in the Physical Theory of Diffraction, originally a Russian-language work by Pyotr Ufimtsev of the Central Research Radio Engineering Institute [ЦНИРТИ] of the Defense Ministry of the Soviet Union, which became the basis for stealth aircraft technology.[17][18][19][20]

National Air Intelligence Center

This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February 2013)

In October 1993 at the end of the Cold War, FTD became the National Air Intelligence Center[21] as "a component of the Air Intelligence Agency",[22] and by 2005 had a Signals Exploitation Division [1] after being renamed the National Air and Space Intelligence Center on February 15, 2003.[14]

NASIC's Defense Intelligence Space Threat Committee coordinates "a wide variety of complex space/counterspace analytical activities."[23] The Center includes a library with interlibrary loan to Air University, etc.[2]


NASIC is an operation wing and Field Operating Agency (FOA) of the USAF; as an FOA, it reports to the Air Staff through the Deputy Chief of Staff for ISR and Cyber Effects Operations.[1] The Center is led by a Commander, currently Col. Maurizio Calabrese, and has an annual budget of over $507 million.[24]

NASIC's 4,100 civilian, military, Reserve, National Guard, and contract personnel are split between the Centers' four intelligence analysis groups, four support directorates, and 18 squadrons.

The Air and Cyberspace Intelligence Group; Geospatial and Signatures Intelligence Group; Global Exploitation Intelligence Group; and Space, Missiles and Forces Intelligence Group comprise the four intelligence groups; the Directorate of Communications and Information, Directorate of Personnel, Directorate of Facilities and Logistics, and Directorate of Plans and Operations comprise the four support directorates.[1]


Redesignated: Air Force Foreign Technology Center on 1 October 1991
Redesignated: Foreign Aerospace Science and Technology Center on 1 January 1992
Redesignated: National Air Intelligence Center on 1 October 1993
Redesignated: National Air and Space Intelligence Center on 20 February 2003


List of commanders



See also


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

  1. ^ a b c Providing Invaluable Intelligence – A Brief History of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC_history.pdf) (Report).
  2. ^ Getz, Bill (June 2004). "Purloined Yak" (PDF). Air Force Magazine. pp. 78–81. Retrieved January 1, 2023. A Long Intelligence History inset, page 81
  3. ^ "History of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force". U.S. Air Force. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
  4. ^ a b c d National Air and Space Intelligence Center History (PDF) (Report). Archived from the original (AFD-120627-049) on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 14 November 2022.
  5. ^ Ehrhart, Robert C.; et al. Piercing the Fog: Intelligence and Army Air Forces Operations in World War II. pp. 42, 117, 483. ISBN 9781428914056. Retrieved 2013-06-10.
  6. ^ Futrell, Robert F. (July 1947). Development of AAF Base Facilities in the United States: 1939–1945 (Report). Vol. ARS-69: US Air Force Historical Study No 69 (Copy No. 2). Air Historical Office. p. 114. In December 1942 a contract was executed with Yale University whereby the university leased facilities for the training of the communications, engineering, armament and photography aviation cadets. These detachments were transferred from Scott, Chanute, and Lowry Field in January 1943.137 Harrisburg Academy at Harrisburg, Pa., was leased for the Air Intelligence School, which opened there in April 1942.138
  7. ^ Ordway, Frederick I, III; Sharpe, Mitchell R (1979). The Rocket Team. Apogee Books Space Series 36. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell. pp. 57, 114, 117, 174b-e, 251, 258d. ISBN 1-894959-00-0. Archived from the original (index) on 2012-03-04.
  8. ^ U.S. Air Force Tactical Missiles, (2009), George Mindling, Robert Bolton ISBN 978-0-557-00029-6
  9. ^ History of Strategic Air and Ballistic Missile Defense: Volume I: 1945–1955 ( PDF). Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  10. ^ Jacobs, James, Senior Airman. "World War II pilot speaks at NASIC". Retrieved 2014-09-23.
  11. ^ a b Burrows, William E. (1986). Deep Black: The Startling Truth Behind America's Top-Secret Spy Satellites. Berkley Books. p. 107. ISBN 0-425-10879-1.
  12. ^ a b Richelson, Jeffrey T. "The Area 51 File: Secret Aircraft and Soviet MiGs". George Washington University. Retrieved February 4, 2023.
  13. ^ "The Telegraph-Herald - Google News Archive Search".
  14. ^ a b Ashcroft, Bruce. "Part 4". A Brief History of Air Force Scientific and Technical Intelligence (mirror page "FTD, then and now"). Retrieved 2013-02-13.
  15. ^ "St. Joseph News-Press - Google News Archive Search".
  16. ^ Anz-Meador, Phillip D.; Opiela, John N.; Shoots, Debra; Liou, J.-C. (July 4, 2018). history of On-Orbit Satellite Fragmentations 15th Edition (Report). NASA. Retrieved November 6, 2022.
  17. ^ Ashcroft, Bruce (Autumn 1994). "Air Force Foreign Materiel Exploitation". American Intelligence Journal. National Military Intelligence Foundation. 15 (2): 79–82. ISSN 0883-072X. JSTOR 44326924.
  18. ^ Browne, Malcolm Wilde (May 14, 1991). "2 Rival Designers Led the Way to Stealthy Warplanes". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 29, 2018. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  19. ^ Browne, Malcolm Wilde (December 16, 1991). "Lockheed credits Soviet theory in design of F-117". Aviation Week & Space Technology. Vol. 135, no. 24/25. p. 27. ISSN 0005-2175.
  20. ^ Rich, Benjamin Robert; Janos, Leo (1994). Skunk Works. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 9780316743006. OCLC 777321294.
  21. ^ "National Air and Space Intelligence Center" (AFISR Fact Sheet). March 5, 2012.
  22. ^ "National Air Intelligence Center" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-02-13.
  23. ^ Brown, Peter J. (July 9, 2009). "Mixed signals over Chinese missiles". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2009-07-11.
  24. ^ "COLONEL MAURIZIO D. CALABRESE". United States Air Force. Retrieved July 8, 2021.
  25. ^ Garcia, Jeannette E. (18 October 2019). "16th Air Force emerges from combination of 24th, 25th Air Force". Retrieved 5 October 2020
  26. ^ "Brigadier General D. Scott George".
  27. ^ "Major General Aaron M. Prupas".
  28. ^ "Brigadier General Parker H. Wright".
  29. ^ Air Intelligence Agency Special Order GF-01, 1999
  30. ^ Air Combat Command Special Order GA-090, 2002
  31. ^ Air Combat Command Special Order GA-111, 2003
  32. ^ Air Combat Command Special Order GA-051, 2005
  33. ^ Air Force ISR Agency Special Order G-014, 2009
  34. ^ Dept of the Air Force Special Order G-041, 2015
  35. ^ Dept of the Air Force Special Order G-095, 2018