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USAF PATCH 553d Reconnaissance Wing 1967-1971 EC-121 BEARCAT US AIR FORCE SQUADRON PATCH

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Beginning in February 1967, the 553d Reconnaissance Wing trained to support a special electronic reconnaissance program utilizing 30 Lockheed EC-121R Batcat aircraft, with a C-121G used for pilot and flight engineer training. Moved to Thailand in increments beginning mid-September 1967 and began day and night unarmed reconnaissance missions over Southeast Asia on 25 November 1967. A wing detachment at Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, performed combat evaluation of YQU-22A aircraft and associated equipment, December 1968 – August 1969. From July to early September 1970 the wing provided combat evaluation of the QU-22B aircraft and on 1 October 1970 the QU-22Bs were placed in full operation, reducing the need for EC-121s.

Strength of the wing was reduced in both personnel and equipment, and in mid-December 1970 the 553d Reconnaissance Wing inactivated. One reconnaissance squadron, the 553d Reconnaissance Squadron, was reassigned to the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing and stayed at Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base. The 554th Reconnaissance squadron was inactivated with that squadron number then assigned to what was Detachment 1 at Nakon Phanom RTAFB. The last 553d Reconnaissance EC-121R mission occurred on 6 December 1971.

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