432d Wing emblem (approved 2 June 1955)[note 1]</th>
432d Tactical Reconnaissance Group emblem as originally approved</th>
The 432d Wing is a United States Air Force unit assigned to Air Combat Command, stationed at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. The group operates unmanned reconnaissance aircraft which provide real-time reconnaissance, surveillance, and precision attack against fixed and time-critical targets. The 432d Air Expeditionary Wing is a provisional unit assigned to Air Combat Command and is the designation for components of the 432d Wing when deployed into combat areas as part of the Global War on Terror.
The 432d 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 432d 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 432d Tactical Reconnaissance Group was activated at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. The 432d's mission at Shaw was to assume the reconnaissance training mission that was handled previously by the 363d Tactical Reconnaissance Wing.
When elevated to the 432d 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 432d 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.
In a budgetary move, the 432d 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 363d TRW.
On 18 September 1966, the 432d 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 432d TRW accounted for more than 80 percent of all reconnaissance activity over North Vietnam.
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.
Forces from the 432d 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 3d 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 432d was reactivated at Davis–Monthan AFB, Arizona on 1 July 1976 as the 423d Tactical Drone Group. The 432d 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 432d also supported testing and evaluation of the BQM-34C drone at Hill AFB, Utah.
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 432d 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.