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 official organizational lineage dates to 1961, however the Center traces its unit heritage back to the Foreign Data Section of the Army Signal Corps’ Airplane Engineering Department established at McCook Field in 1917. In 2017, the center celebrates 100 years of Scientific and Technical Intelligence heritage.  The Foreign Data 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 as a part of the Army’s Aeronautical Museum, and producing motion picture studies of engineering experiments.

With 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 Colonel 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.

Photo 1 – Captured Japanese Zero –Wright Field 1943

Under the direction of Colonel 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 Colonel Watson and many others, by decade’s end Air Materiel Command’s intelligence mission focused increasingly on the emerging Russian technological threat.  In October 1947, T-2 Intelligence became the AMC Intelligence Department and began providing scientific and technical intelligence not only to the Command, but the Air Staff as well.  

On 21 May 51, 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.  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.

Throughout 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 Brigadier General Harold Watson lobbied the Air Staff for the construction of a new headquarters building. On 18 July 1956, General 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.

Photo 2 – Readix Computer in Building 828 - 1958

 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 21 September 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 Department of Defense.  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 1 August 1961 Department of Defense Directive establishing the Defense Intelligence Agency 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. 

With 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 thirty 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 Foreign Technology Division 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 on 16 September 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 Department of Defense trend, the Air Force merged its S&TI center with its general military intelligence (GMI) resources. The National Air Intelligence Center stood up on 1 October 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 on 15 April 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 2 May 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 29 September 2014, the National Air and Space Intelligence Center came full circle, once again working directly for the Air Staff as a Field Operating Agency.  During 2017, the Center celebrated 100 years of intelligence production heritage.  As always, the Center provides detailed intelligence products on current and projected threats to and from the air and space realms for national, and Department of Defense 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 Emblem



Azure, on a globe Celeste gridlined 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 1 July 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 - 15 Oct 1926
Materiel Division

Army Aeronautical Museum - 22 Aug 1935
Materiel Division

Technical Data Branch - Feb 1940
Materiel Division

Technical Data Section - Jul 1941
Army Air Forces Materiel Center

Technical Data Laboratory - 3 Dec 1942
Army Air Forces Materiel Center
AAF Air Technical Service Command

 T-2 Intelligence - 1 Jul 1945
Air Materiel Command

Intelligence Department - 10 Oct 1947
Air Materiel Command

Air Technical Intelligence Center - 21 May 1951
(1125th Field Activities Group)
Director/Intelligence, HQ USAF

Aerospace Technical Intelligence Center - 21 Sep 1959
Director/Intelligence, HQ USAF

Foreign Technology Division - 1 Jul 1961
Air Force Systems Command

Air Force Foreign Technology Center - 1 Oct 1991
Air Force Intelligence Command

Foreign Aerospace Science and Technology Center - 1 Jan 1992
Air Force Intelligence Command


National Air Intelligence Center - 1 Oct 1993

Air Intelligence Agency


National Air and Space Intelligence Center - 20 Feb 2003

Air Intelligence Agency

(Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency – 8 June 2007)

HQ U.S. Air Force/A2 – 29 September 2014

NASIC Commanders   1961 - Present

Feb 1961 - Jul 1964                             Brig Gen Arthur J. Pierce

Jul 1964 - Aug 1966                            Brig Gen Arthur W. Cruikshank, Jr.

Aug 1966 - Nov 1968                          Col Raymond S. Sleeper

Nov 1968 - Jul 1974                            Col George R. Weinbrenner

Jul 1974 - Jul 1975                              Col James W. Rawers

Jul 1975 - Jan 1977                             Col John B. Marks, Jr.

Jan 1977 - Jun 1981                             Col Howard E. Wright

Jun 1981 - Feb 1983                            Col David S. Watrous

Feb 1983 - Jun 1986                            Col Earl A Pontius

Jul 1986 - Aug 1988                            Col Gary Culp

Aug 1988 - Jun 1992                           Brig Gen Francis C. Gideon

Jun 1992 - Jul 1994                             Col James E. Miller, Jr.        

Jul 1994 - Aug 1996                            Col Gary D. Payton           

Aug 1996 - Dec 1997                          Col Kenneth K. Dumm         

Dec 1997 – Sep 2000                          Col Richard G. Annas

Sep 2000 – Jul 2002                            Col Steven R. Capenos

Jul 2002 – Sept 2004                           Col Mark C. Christian

Sept 2004 – Jul 2006                           Col Joseph J. Pridotkas

Jul 2006 – June 2008                           Col Karen A. Cleary

Jun 2008 – Jun 2010                            Col D. Scott George (BG Select)

Jun 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 – Jun 2018                          Col Sean P. Larkin

Jun 2018 – May 2020                          Col Parker H. Wright (BG Select)

Jun 2020 – Jun 2022                            Col Maurizio D. Calabrese

Jun 2022 – Present                              Col Ariel G. Batungbacal