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Beale AFB
9th Operations Group

9th Operations Group

Beale AFB 9th Operations Group


The 9th Operations Group consists of multiple squadrons and detachments. The 9th Operations Group trains, plans and executes the entire Air Force fleet of U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance missions, RQ-4 initial qualification training and operates 11 T-38 companion trainers. The group prepares combat elements for global employment, peacetime intelligence collection and Emergency War Order support.

More than 125,000 hours and 28,000 sorties are flown annually, including more than 20,000 secretary of defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed combat sorties from at least four continuously manned contingency operating locations. Squadrons at Beale include: the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, 99th Reconnaissance Squadron, 9th Operations Support Squadron, 489th Reconnaissance Squadron and 427th Reconnaissance Squadron.


The 1st Reconnaissance Squadron recruits and trains all Air Force U-2 and RQ-4 pilots. Pilots interested in the U-2 program are hand-picked from the various commands and sister services and sent to Beale for interviews followed by flight screening. Flying abilities are evaluated in the U-2 two-seattrainer. If selected, applicants are assigned to the 1 RS for upgrade training. Initial training takes place in the two-seat U-2ST trainer aircraft.

At completion of the initial qualification phase of five dual-instructional flights and one dual-evaluation flight, the pilot solos in a single-seat U-2. The pilot then continues to the high-altitude mission qualification phases, where all missions except three are flown solo.

At training completion, U-2 pilots are assigned to the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron. The U-2 is a demanding, single-seat, single-engine, high-altitude aircraft that is undoubtedly one of the most difficult in the Air Force inventory to land. The RQ-4 is one of the Air Force’s most recent acquisitions and is rapidly expanding to worldwide operations. Initial training is accomplished in RQ-4 simulators utilizing a mix of contractor and Air Force instructors. Pilots then move to high-altitude mission qualification training where five flights are accomplished utilizing the full RQ-4 crew to employ the aircraft’s sensors in an operationally representative scenario. At training completion, RQ-4 pilots are assigned to either the 12th (ACC) Reconnaissance Squadron or 69th (ACC) Reconnaissance Group. The squadron’s outstanding record reflects the dedication and professionalism of the elite group of instructors and enlisted and civilian members of the squadron.


The 99th Reconnaissance Squadron plans and executes high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions. To execute the ISR requirements of combatant commanders, Joint Chiefs of Staff and the secretary of defense, 99 RS pilots and mission planners are continuously deployed to global forward operating locations. Additionally, the 99 RS upgrades U-2 pilots and mission planners via continuation training to ensure all squadron personnel maintain worldwide deployability and combat mission-ready status.


The 9th Operations Support Squadron provides a wide variety of support functions for the wing’s flying operation, including: air traffic control, airfield management, intelligence, weapons and tactics, aircrew flight equipment and survival training, weather services and current operations to include wing scheduling, flight records management, training and airspace management, mission planning systems development, operations plans management and combat crew communications. Additionally, the squadron command section provides administrative support to the 9th Operations Group staff as well as to personnel deployed to the wing’s forward operating locations.

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