601st Tactical Control Wing

601st Tactical Control Wing

601st Tactical Control Wing
601st Tactical Control Wing - Emblem.png
Emblem of the 601st Tactical Control Wing
Active 1965-1995
Country United States United States
Branch Flag of the United States Air Force.png Air Force
Role Tactical Aircraft Control
Part of Seventeenth Air Force

The 601st Tactical Control Wing is an inactive United States Air Force organization. Its last assignment was with the Seventeenth Air Force, being stationed at Sembach Air Base, West Germany. It was inactivated on 30 April 1995.


The mission of the 601st Tactical Control Wing (TCW) was to provide an effective European Tactical Air Control System (ETACS) for the Commander-In-Chief United States Air Forces in Europe (CINCUSAFE) and Commander, Allied Air Forces Central Europe (COMAAFCE).

To provide this service, the wing employed a number of resources to include that of a mobile radar network, flying operations in the form of CH-53C "Super Jolly " helicopters, and a smattering of other elements to include several Forward Air Control Posts (FACPs). Over the entire spectrum of wing operations, the 60lst TCW ultimately took in the tasks of controlling Offensive missions against ground targets, handling Defensive missions for air-to-air intercepts, supplying surveillance of airspace both in and outside the Central Region, and providing valuable interface support for European Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) sorties.

601st Tactical Control Group

601st Tactical Control Wing

The 60lst Tactical Control Wing was organized at Sembach Air Base, West Germany, on 1 July 196B. The new wing assumed the missions of the 601st TCG.

On 1 November 1968, several of the Central Region's fixed radar sites came under the wing's control as the 86th Air Division relinauished responsibility for its three subordinate AC&WS squadrons. These fixed elements were the 606th AC&W5 (a reporting post at Doebraberg), the 615th AC&WS (a control and reporting post at Birkenfeld Air Station), and the 616th AC&WS (a control and reporting post at Wasserkuppe).

Several other significant events also occurred on 1 November 1968 as wing FACPs began converting to the new "two dimensional" TPS-44 radars and several detacrents were activated. The newly activated detachments at 3 (Freising) and 6 (Giebelstadt) provided operational assistance at fixed radar sites owned by the German Air Force (GAF). The third detachment activated, Det 4 at Ramstein AB, was a consolidated field maintenance facility for the USAFE 412L radar system.

On 27 June 1969, the first of three AN/TPS-43 radar sets planned for wing mobile radar unit use was accepted by Det 8, 601st TCS (later to become the 603rd TCS). Work on the conversion plan for replacing the AN/TPS-44 with the "three dimensional" TPS-43 at the GOlst TCS and both CRPs began in early 1969. However, numerous problems arose which precluded the plan from being completed quickly. Particularly, a firm delivery date could not be established for the first radar which was to be used as a training device. Because of this, an Air Training Command team could not establish a firm school start date to train wing personnel. Also, an interface kit being developed by Westinghouse was required to allow the use of the TPS-43 until the wing received the new TSQ-91V operations centrals, expected to be delivered in 1971 though actually received in February 1972. These problems kept the wing from beginning the conversion until nine months later.

Yet another major equipment modification occurred on 1 September 1969. A modification was completed in computer programming which created 4,096 possible codes for aircraft identification. This gave each aircraft in the 4th Allied Tactical Air Force (4 ATAF) region (Southern are of West Germany) a different code thus providing a more positive identification capability. In other organizational areas, on 1 October 1969, Det 1 and Det 2 of the 60Ist DASS were redesignated as detachments 41 and 42 respectively. Further, on this same date, all eight detachments of the 60lst TCS were redesignated as follows: Det 1 became Det 21; Det 2 became Det 22; Det 3 became Det 23; Det 4 became Det 24; Det 4 became Det 24: Det 5 became Det 25; Oet 6 became Det 26; Det 7 became Det 27; and Det 8 became Det 28.

Cessna 0-2 Forward Air Control

For the most part, the wing continued to function as normal going into 1970. But on 15 February, the wing acquired yet another mission with the arrival of three Cessna 0-2A aircraft. The wing was notified in early January of its tasking to develop a airborne Forward Air Controller (FAC) capability. Specific goals assigned to the wing included the development of airborne FAC techniques and training policies and procedures. An airborne PAC meeting was conducted at Seventeenth Air Force on 15 January 1970. It was decided that the 601st TCW would be assigned operational control of FAC aircraft, but that the 26th Tactical Reconnissance Wing (TRW) would be responsible for their maintenance and ground support. Consequently, for the next three years, all FAC aircraft assigned to the 601st TCW would fly out of Ramstein AB. On 2 March 1970, Colonel Roy Peterson, 601st TCW Deputy Commander for Operations, made the first operational flight of a wing-controlled 0-2A aircraft.

The wing's airborne FAC capability was further developed via the employment of an 0-2A aircraft in support of the Army at the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment's Annual Training Tests at the Hohenfels tank gunnery range . This marked the beginning of a new concept of operations for tactical air forces in Europe. Nine days later, the 60Ist TCW deployed its entire fleet of three 0-2A aircraft to Italy in support of Dawn Patrol '70. The operational capabilities of the airborne FACs were displayed to great advantage during both deployments.

Wiesbaden Air Base

Two major events occurred in 1973. On 2 May, HQ USAFE anno unced that the 60lst TCW would move to Wiesbaden AB on approximately 1 June 1973. Specifically, the 601st TCW, 601st TCS, 621st TCF (formerlly Det 27), and the 601st TCMS were to move to Wiesbaden with personnel and equipment, whereas the 601st Supply Squadron, 60lst Civil Engineering Squadron, 60lst Security police, 601st DASS , 601st Transportation Squadron, and 60lst CSG were to move to Wiesbaden without personnel or equipment. It was also announced that an entirely new unit, the 7400th Air Base Group (ABG), wuld be created on 1 June 1973 to operate and maintain Sembach AB.

On 1 June 1973, the wing began its relocation from Sembach to Wiesbaden though the official ceremony marking the move wasn't held until 29 June 1973. The three 0-2A aircraft relocated from Ramstein to Wiesbaden on 16 July 1973 and, seven days later, the Wiesbaden command post assumed all command and control functions for the 60lst TCW. At this time, the Wiesbaden vehicle operations branch assumed responsibility for providing "round robin" resupply of outlying TACS radar units. By 1 October 1973, the wing's relocation to Wiesbaden was essentially complete.

In the other major occurrence during the year, the 601st TCW went through a major reorganization on 1 July 1973. All of the 60lst TCS detachments were activated as numbered flights and squadrons and Oet 1, 60lst TCW, became the 601st TACC Squadron. Two other new units were brought on line in the form of the 601st Tactical Air Support Group (TASG) and the 601st Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (601st CAMS). The 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron or 20th TASS was not activated until 1 October 1973. On the last day of the year, TACP operating locations of the 60lst and 602nd OASC Squadron's were discontinued. The TACPs were reactivated as detachment operating locations of the 20th TASS.

On 21 June 1974, the wing's first two OV-10A aircraft arrived at Wiesbaden AB from Hurlburt Field. On 12 July 1974, OV-1OA flying operations officially commenced at Wiesbaden AB and three months later, on 10 October 1974, the 20th TASS flew the first OV-10A sortie involved with airborne FAC coverage of an exercise (Certain Pledge). Additional OV-10As arrived from Thailand 11 days later and, on 18 December 1974, use of 0-2A aircraft for wing flying operations was terminated.

Also, in an expansion of airborne mission taskings during 1974, the 601st TASS was activated on 1 July in preparation for the arrival of CH-53C helicopters. However, the first CH-53C would not arrive until six months later. The wing's first two helicopters arrived on 15 January 1975, and flying operations for this newest addition to the wing's aircraft inventory commenced on 6 February. Five additional CH-53Cs were received during the 1ast two months of the year. Also, 12 additional OV-lOAs arrived at Wiesbaden in August 1975, followed by 10 more two months later.

Return to Sembach

However, all these events were overshadowed by the announcement, on 8 August 1975, of project Creek Swap, wherein the wing was notified it would again have to pack its bags and move back to Sembach AB. Thus, in January 1976, after a two year stay at Wiesbaden, the wing began its move en masse back to Sembach AB. The first OV-1OA aircraft from Wiesbaden landed at Sembach on 7 January 1976, and Colonel Fleetwood Pride Jr., the 601st TCW commander, landed another the next day to officially mark the wing's return to Sembach. By 31 March 1976, the wing's move back to Sembach was largely completed.

In an effort to provide mobile radar coverage services for Northern Germany, the 60Ist TCW planned on opening up several new units in 2 ATAF in 1976. Final planning stages for Creek North were completed by 31 March 1976, and, by year's end, the wing's mobile TACS network grew by 40 percent. This expansion project involved the activation of eight units and first took in the development of three new sites in Northern Germany--Hessisch Oldendorf, Bad Muender and Schwelentrup.

Hessisch Oldendorf was the site of a former Royal Netherlands Air Force Hawk missile battery headquarters and the other two locations were its satellite missile launch sites. The 609th TCS and 6l9th TCF were activated at Bad Muender and Schwelentrup respectively on 1 April 1976. A month later, on 1 May 1976, the 629th TCF was also actiVated at Schwelentrup. Equipment for the 609th TCS came from Cannon AFB, New Mexico, and that for its two flights arrived from the l03rd TCF, Orange County, Connecticut, and the 101st TCF, Worchester, Massachusetts. Shortly after, on 21 May 1976, Hessisch Oldendorf Air Station was officially opened under project Creek Control and, on 20 September 1976, the 600th TCG and 600th Combat Support Squadron (CSS) were activated to provide control and support for 2 ATAF radar units. This left three new units yet to be activated. Almost a year later under project Creek Brahman, on 15 March 1977, the 606th TCS, 626th TCF, and 636th TCF were activated at Carl Schurz Kaserne near Bremerhaven. This marked the completion of mobile radar expansion into Northern Germany.

Several aircraft related milestones were also reached in 1976. First, on 4 July, the 704th TASS was activated at Sembach AB as a "Bicentenni al Squadron". Second, on 1 November 1976, wing OV-10A aircraft, pilots from the 20th TASS, and maintenance personnel from the 60Ist CAMS deployed to Zaragoza AB, Spain, to "kick off" a four month weapons training detachment (WTD) deployment nicknamed "Creek Tally". This was the first time wing aircraft deployed to Spain for this type training. In a related operation, the 611th TCF also deployed their FACP to Zaragoza at the same time. While there, the 611th provided radar and radio coverage for dissimilar air combat training missions between Northrop F-5E Tiger lIs of the 527th Tactical Fighter Training aggressor Squadron (TFTAGS) and F-4 Phantoms. Also, the 611th TCF was airlifted in two C-SA Galaxies rather than the C-130s or C-14ls normally used for radar airborne movements.

The major aircraft related event of 1977 involved the arrival of four additional OV-10As from the states on 9 September 1977. Also, the first two wing OV-10As to receive camouflage painting returned to Sembach from Alverca, Portugal, where the work was performed. In 1980, The 601st TASG gained additional CH-53Cs and OV-10As.

Saudi Arabia detachment

War broke out between Iran and Iraq on 22 September 1980. Shortly after, the Saudis requested and received US assistance in the form of various radar elements to ensure that Saudi Arabian airspace was not violated during the on-going hostilities. Indeed, early in October 1980, the 601st TCW received a short notice order to deploy a survey team to Riyadh to assist in setting up a mobile radar network in Saudi Arabia.

Subsequently, stateside TAC elements dispatched a FACP, a TSQ-91V CRP operations central cell, and a TYC-ID MPC to Saudi Arabia. The overall radar operation in Saudi Arabia was collectively known as Elf One.

Actually, Elf One's operation involved three operating locations set up along the eastern edge of the Arabian peninsula on the coast of the Persian Gulf and in the central city of Riyadh. The MPC and E-3A AWACS aircraft operated out of the latter location . The TSQ-9IV cell, along with the communications element of the Saudi Arabian SOC , was situated at a location on Dhahran AB, just inland from the eastern coast of Saudi Arabia. The FACP operated out of Al Jubayl, also along the eastern coast of the country. Some 500 personnel made up the population at the three operating locations. The primary mission of this operation was to maintain an air defense enhancement package in Saudi Arabia in providing support to the Saudi Arabian government through air defense radar surveillance of the Gulf area.

On 11 April 1981, the 602nd TCS began deploying en masse to Elf One with vans and equipment. Prior to this date, the majority of wing members who supported Elf One were taken more or less equally from all 601st TCW TACS units. in Saudi Arabia. The detachment in Saudi Arabia Another was inactivated on 12 February 1986. This date marked the end of over five years (activated 9 October 1980) 60lst TCW FACP support for Elf One operations at various locations in Saudi Arabia

601st Air Control Group

On 1 February 1984, the 601st TCW and all its assigned units were awarded the "Air Force Outstanding Award" for the period 1 May 1981 through 30 April 1983. Next, due to a congressionally-imposed European troop strength ceiling, all 45 wing OV-10A aircraft along with approximatley 800 support personnel of both flying squadrons (the 20th TASS and 704th TASS) and much of the maintenance complex returned to the states during the period 5 June 1984 through 29 August 1984. The 45 OV-1OA aircraft previously assigned to the 601st TCW were now assigned to the 27th TASS at George AFB, California, and the the wing's two Bronco squadrons (the 20th and 704th TASS) were inactivated on 30 September 1984.

On 31 May 1985, HQ USAFE notified the 601st TCW that the Air Staff had approved the formation of the 65th Air Division and the 66th Electronic Combat Wing with an activation date of 1 June 1985 at Sembach. In addition, the 66th ECW was assigned host wing responsibilities which included support of the many geographically separated units of the 601st TCW. The 601st TCW was re-designated as the 601st Air Control Group and would be a tenant organization under the 66th Electronic Combat Wing.

In order to meet the Fiscal Year (FY) 1985 and 1986 Department of Defense budget restrictions, the Air Staff directed the reduction of the mobile TACS by two CRPs and four FACPs in two phases. Phase I resulted in the 1 June 1985 inactivation of the 632th TCF located at Grafenwoehr and the 1 August 1985 inactivation of the 602nd TCS at Turkheim and the 619nd TCF located at Schwelentrup. The second phase of this drawdown resulted in the 1 October 1986 inactivation of the 603rd TCS at Mehlingen, the 636th TCF and the 62lst TCF at Wanna and Wiesbaden, respectivley.

The 601st wide range of communications, which had its beginnings in World War II, was heavily tasked in support of operations during Operation Desert Storm and Operation Provide Comfort, starting with the early buildup in the Persian Gulf during August 1990.

One item of communications-electronic equipment that was used in the many deployments and exercises throughout central and northern Europe was the AN/TRC-97A Radio Set, which was maintained by Wideband Maintenance Equipment Repairmen. This set was very versatile because it provided line of sight, point to point communications in the German countryside. The TRC-97 was widely used over a period of many years, but it was eventually replaced by a digital, less maintenance intensive, AN/TRC-170 Radio Set. The 601st air control units became an Operations Group in March 1992 that resulted in the formation of the 601st Support Wing. In1993, more than half the 601st air control assets deployed to Italy in support of Operation Deny Flight, the United Nations sponsored operations that established a no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina.

601st Air Base Wing

The Operations Group was inactivated in October 1993, when the Support Wing was redesignated as the 601st Air Base Wing. At the time, the wing was responsible for over 40 geographically separated units in combination with over 200 people deployed to more than a dozen locations worldwide.

In 1995 the Sembach flightline was returned to German control and the 601st Air Base Wing was inactivated.




Forward Air Control Posts

Radar Stations

Aircraft Squadrons



This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

External links

Retrieved from : http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=601st_Tactical_Control_Wing&oldid=459972290

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