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National Air and Space Intelligence Center Heritage

The National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) is the source of air and space intelligence for the Department of Defense (DoD) and produces integrated, predictive air, space and specialized intelligence to enable military operations, force modernization and policymaking. NASIC is a global intelligence enterprise which fulfills the needs of today's and tomorrow's warfighter, aids in shaping national and defense policy and guides the development of future weapons systems. NASIC products and services play a key role in ensuring that United States forces avoid technological surprise and can counter existing and evolving foreign air and space threats.

Headquartered at Wright-Patterson AFB, NASIC's organizational lineage dates to 1961; however the Center traces its heritage back to the Foreign Data Section of the Army Signal Corps' Airplane Engineering Department established at McCook Field in 1917. The Section evaluated foreign scientific and technical information related to aircraft. During the interwar years, NASIC's predecessors gained responsibility for disseminating aviation-related technical information to business and military organizations, operating the Army's Aeronautical Museum, and producing motion picture studies of engineering experiments.

Captured Japanese Zero –Wright Field 1943With the advent of World War II, the impact of the enemy's radical and advanced weapons design concepts forced the Allies to a new appreciation of technical intelligence. From December 1942, the Technical Data Laboratory carried out the Army Air Force's scientific and technical intelligence mission at Wright Field. As the war progressed, emphasis shifted from air operations support to technical exploitation of enemy technology. Front line troops from several nations captured enemy equipment and sent it back to Wright Field for assessment, with the first German and Japanese aircraft arriving in 1943. Officers and civilian scientists, mostly from Wright Field, followed the allies to exploit captured enemy materiel and documents.

After the war ended in Europe, Wright Field's Col. Harold E. Watson and a group of handpicked pilots gathered German aircraft from the battlefield and sent or flew them back to Air Materiel Command's T-2 Intelligence Department at Wright Field and Freeman Field, Indiana, for study. Operation Paperclip, a follow-on project, brought over 200 German scientists and technicians to Wright Field to work with their American counterparts. Some of the scientists eventually worked in the Wright Field laboratories.

Under the direction of Col. Howard McCoy, the Army also delivered a large amount of captured documents to Wright Field. By the end of 1947, Wright Field personnel had processed over 1,500 tons of documents, adding over 100,000 new technical terms to the English language. The technical knowledge gained revolutionized American industry. Besides the aviation-related advances, new designs for vacuum tubes, the development of magnetic tapes, night vision devices, improvements in liquid and solid fuels, and advances in textiles, drugs, and food preservation were made available to American manufacturers.

The establishment of Air Materiel Command's T-2 Intelligence at Wright Field in July 1945 began the move toward a balanced integration of engineering and intelligence. T-2 was responsible for the creation of air intelligence; identifying foreign aircraft and related equipment needed for study; receiving, translating, and distributing foreign language documents; and distributing air intelligence products. Because of the efforts of Watson and many others, by decade's end Air Materiel Command's intelligence mission focused increasingly on the emerging Russian technological threat.

The Air Force established the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as a field activity of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence May 21, 1951. The events of the 1950s provided the backdrop against which ATIC performed a vital scientific and technical intelligence mission for the United States. The Korean War gave ATIC its first major opportunity to directly influence military strategy. ATIC provided the Far East Air Force (FEAF) with the performance characteristics of Russian aircraft in theater and charts depicting the combat radius of the MiG-15. This support allowed FEAF to more effectively develop engagement tactics for its F-86 fighters. ATIC also exploited captured Russian Ilyushin and Yakolev aircraft and studied the MiG-15 that defected after the war.

Readix Computer in Building 828 - 1958Throughout the 1950s, ATIC analysts pioneered the use of computers for aircraft analysis. As the number of personnel assigned to ATIC increased, there was a growing need to construct a building to house the unit. With center personnel spread out in six buildings around the base, ATIC commander Brig. Gen. Harold Watson lobbied the Air Staff for the construction of a new headquarters building. On July 18, 1956, Watson and ATIC held a ground breaking ceremony for a 100,000 square-foot complex, Building 828. In addition to office spaces, the building featured designs to house the Center's first computer, the Readix. This first segment of today's state-of-the-art intelligence complex dated to this 1958 construction.

Immediately following the Sputnik launches in October 1957, the emphasis on space analysis increased. In 1959, the Air Force renamed ATIC, recognizing the importance of the space-related mission. Instead of "Air" Technical Intelligence Center, on Sept. 21, 1959, the unit became the "Aerospace" Technical Intelligence Center. Also in 1959, ATIC began studying Chinese trends in offensive missiles and space vehicles. During this era, the Center made significant contributions to the development of automated and technical systems. In partnership with American industry, ATIC spurred the development of automated performance analysis techniques and pioneered the machine translation of foreign language documents within the DoD. ATIC engineers and scientists also broke new pathways in the development of sensor, photographic, and reconnaissance systems.

Key events in 1961 marked the end of the ATIC era. The first, the disastrous "Bay of Pigs" invasion of Cuba in April, prompted President John F. Kennedy to establish the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The Aug. 1, 1961 Department of Defense Directive establishing the DIA specified that the new agency would "more clearly align DoD intelligence channels with the military chain of command." At the same time, the Air Force realigned its scientific and technical intelligence function. Instead of being directly assigned to the Air Staff, the aerospace technical intelligence mission became part of the newly established Air Force Systems Command, previously the Air Research and Development Command.

FTD EmblemWith the establishment of the Foreign Technology Division (FTD) under the new Air Force Systems Command in July 1961, the Air Force gained a formal organization that handled its scientific and technical intelligence mission for the next 30 years. Furthermore, FTD's investigation of new foreign technology provided a yardstick against which American research and development could be measured. By 1961, FTD automated the photo analysis process. It added the capability to provide invaluable information on foreign aerodynamic, ballistic missile and space vehicle systems in 1963. That same year, it automated the database as a computerized library of scientific and technical information from many sources, available for instant recall. In the 1970s FTD acquired capabilities in human intelligence targeting and laser signal analysis. It consolidated all scientific and technical databases into a single, comprehensive scientific and technical database. The use of automated microfilm storage, retrieval and display equipment improved accessibility to document, processing, retrieval and dissemination.

The initials "FTD" are how many people still refer to the scientific and technical intelligence mission at Wright-Patterson. For 30 years the center kept the same name, yet the reputation grew. FTD personnel became known throughout the Air Force and the intelligence community as the experts in Soviet aircraft, missiles, space systems and related equipment performance. The "official" lineage of NASIC started with the establishment of FTD in 1961. From 1961 to 1991, the FTD was the Air Force's Scientific and Technical Intelligence (S&TI) center of excellence for foreign air, space, and ballistic missile systems, working under DIA's intelligence production guidance.

Foreign Technology Division almost moved to Florida in the early 1970s. The Air Force finished an addition to Building 828, Building 829, in 1964, yet FTD still needed 320,000 square feet of new office space to accommodate its expanding mission. Patrick Air Force Base had office space available. A comprehensive study of the costs involved in such a move showed that it would be less expensive to build new facilities at Wright-Patterson. This became Building 856, the main part of the NASIC complex today. Occupancy came in July 1976 and the dedication took place Sept. 16, 1976. This greatly expanded FTD's intelligence production capability. Whereas the first Readix computer, installed in 1955, had only four kilobytes of memory and one work station, FTD equipment by the end of the 1980s included a work station for almost every worker and several main frames and specialized systems.

In 1992 the Air Force redesignated FTD the Foreign Aerospace Science and Technology Center (FASTC). In keeping with a larger DoD trend, the Air Force merged its S&TI center with its general military intelligence (GMI) resources. The National Air Intelligence Center (NAIC) stood up Oct. 1 1993, with the integration of FASTC and the 480th Intelligence Group (IG). The Air Force redesignated NAIC "National Air and Space Intelligence Center" in February of 2003. The name more accurately reflected NASIC's vast contributions to the nation's space intelligence requirements.

The Center held a group and squadron activation ceremony April 15, 2008 in the Modern Flight Gallery of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. During the event, four groups and 17 squadrons became active Air Force units. The unitization strengthened NASIC leaders' authority, accountability and responsibility to better care for the Center's most important asset, its people. The creation of the groups and squadrons made NASIC resources more understandable in an Air Force environment, enabling the Center to more efficiently and effectively meet national security requirements.

On May 2, 2008, NASIC opened a new chapter in its long history of service to the nation with the ribbon-cutting of a new military construction project that added over 100,000 square-feet of space to the NASIC complex. The new space, added to what was already the largest facility of its kind in the Air Force, greatly enabled NASIC's engagement of national security challenges and positioned the Center to be a key innovative leader in intelligence. It included a 500-seat auditorium, one of the largest of its kind, which hosted the classified exchange of information and ideas within the national intelligence community that became increasingly important to national security.

On Sept. 22, 2014, NASIC came full circle, once again working directly for the Air Staff as a Field Operating Agency. As always, the Center provided detailed intelligence products on current and projected threats to and from the air and space realms for national and DoD policy makers, warfighters, and the force modernization community. It continues serving this nation as a respected source for timely expertise, creating products that keep the U.S. safer and protect the warfighters in the air and on the ground.

National Air and Space Intelligence Center
National Air and Space Intelligence Agency Emblem

Azure, on a globe Celeste gridline of the field a Sphinx Or garnished Gold Brown, in dexter chief a mullet of eight points and in sinister chief a flight symbol fesswise Yellow, all within a diminished bordure of the last

Blue and yellow are the Air Force colors. Blue alludes to the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel. The globe represents the Center's support to the Air Force mission of global power-global reach. The Sphinx, a traditional symbol of intelligence, signifies the unit's intelligence analyses, production and services. The flight symbol denotes the Center's analyses of future technologies and weapon systems. The compass rose suggests analytic integration of all sources of intelligence in the formation of policies.

Full Color Cable Number PMS No. Subdued Cable No.
Air Force Yellow 67103 116 Olive Drab 67133
Ultramarine Blue 67118 Reflex Blue Flag Blue 67124
Brittany Blue 67119 551 Spruce Green 67130
Gold Brown 67194 471 Black 67138

NOTE: NASIC Official Lineage and Honors date to July 1, 1961 (FTD)
Foreign Data Section 1917
Airplane Engineering Department
Technical Publications and Library Department 1918
Airplane Engineering Department
Technical Data Section 1920
Engineering Division, Army Air Services
Technical Data Branch – Oct. 15, 1926
Materiel Division
Army Aeronautical Museum – Aug. 22, 1935
Materiel Division
Technical Data Branch - February 1940
Materiel Division
Technical Data Section - July 1941
Army Air Forces Materiel Center
Technical Data Laboratory – Dec. 3, 1942
Army Air Forces Materiel Center
Army Air Forces Air Technical Service Command
T-2 Intelligence – July 1, 1945
Air Materiel Command
Intelligence Department - Oct. 10, 1947
Air Materiel Command
Air Technical Intelligence Center – May 21, 1951
(1125th Field Activities Group)
Director/Intelligence, Headquarters USAF
Aerospace Technical Intelligence Center – Sept. 21, 1959
Director/Intelligence, HQ USAF
Foreign Technology Division – July 1, 1961
Air Force Systems Command
Air Force Foreign Technology Center – Oct. 1, 1991
Air Force Intelligence Command
Foreign Aerospace Science and Technology Center – Jan. 1, 1992
Air Force Intelligence Command
National Air Intelligence Center – Oct. 1, 1993
Air Intelligence Agency
National Air and Space Intelligence Center – Feb. 20, 2003
Air Intelligence Agency
(Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency – June 8, 2007)
(HQ USAF/A2 – Sept. 22, 2014)

NASIC Commanders 1961 - Present
February 1961 - July 1964, Brig. Gen. Arthur J. Pierce
July 1964 - August 1966, Brig. Gen. Arthur W. Cruikshank, Jr.
August 1966 - November 1968, Col. Raymond S. Sleeper
November 1968 - July 1974, Col. George R. Weinbrenner
July 1974 - July 1975, Col. James W. Rawers
July 1975 - January 1977, Col. John B. Marks, Jr.
January 1977 - June 1981, Col. Howard E. Wright
June 1981 - February 1983, Col. David S. Watrous
February 1983 - June 1986, Col. Earl A Pontius
July 1986 - August 1988, Col. Gary Culp
August 1988 - June 1992, Brig. Gen Francis C. Gideon
June 1992 - July 1994, Col. James E. Miller, Jr.
July 1994 - August 1996, Col. Gary D. Payton
August 1996 - December 1997, Col. Kenneth K. Dumm
December 1997 - September 2000, Col. Richard G. Annas
September 2000 - July 2002, Col. Steven R. Capenos
July 2002 - September 2004, Col. Mark C. Christian
September 2004 - July 2006, Col. Joseph J. Pridotkas
July 2006 - June 2008, Col. Karen A. Cleary
June 2008 - June 2010, Col. D. Scott George (Brigadier general select)
June 2010 - May 2012, Col. Kathleen C. Sakura
May 2012 - May 2014, Col. Aaron M. Prupas
May 2014 - May 2016, Col. Leah G. Lauderback
May 2016 - present, Col. Sean. P. Larkin