HUGHES AIRCRAFT COMPANY
Sensors and Communications Systems
Public Relations Department
PO Box 92426
El Segundo, Calif. 90009-2426
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HUGHES BEST DETACHMENT AWARD TO U-2 SQUADRON IN FRANCE
EL SEGUNDO, Ca., Oct. 13, 1997 -- The Hughes Best Detachment Award for 1997 has been awarded to the France-based U-2 squadron OL-FR supporting allied operations in the Balkans.
OL-FR, which stands for Operating Location France, originally was known as the 95th Reconnaissance Squadron before it moved to Europe and was redesignated OL-UK while it operated out of Royal Air Force bases at Alconbury and Fairford.
When it became apparent during the summer of 1995 that the United States involvement in the Balkans was about to escalate, U.S. officials negotiated a lease that allowed the squadron to be relocated to Le Tube Air Base at Istres in southern France.
In nominating the squadron for the award, the USAF 9th Operating Group noted that the advance beddown team arrived at Le Tube on Dec. 13, 1995, and rennovated the hangar, which had been vacant for eight years, in time for the first aircraft, which arrived on Jan. 4, 1996. Four days later, the squadron was operational and began flying its first missions in support of allied operations in Bosnia.
In selecting the squadron, the Air Force noted that OL-FR overcame continually challenging weather conditions and never had to divert. The Air Force also said the squadron was able to provide the United Nations with critical photographic evidence of mass grave sites in Bosnia, and was the first operational U-2 unit able to use the Mobile Stretch to relay near real time ASARS-2 information from the theater to the a ground station at Beale AFB, Calif., for exploitation and dissemination.
The Hughes-sponsored trophy has been awarded by the Air Force to the top U-2 reconnaissance squadron every two years since 1987. Previous winners include the first (1987) and fifth (1989) detachments of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing based at Kadena Air Base, Japan, and Patrick AFB, Fla., respectively; the 1704th Provisional Reconnaissance Squadron, Taif, Saudi Arabia, in 1991; and the 3rd detachment (1993) and the 5th reconnaissance squadron (1995) of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, based in Cyprus and at Osan Air Base, Korea, respectively.
The award was presented by Ken Kalenik, Program Executive for Reconnaissance and Surveillance programs, during the annual Blackbird Reunion in Reno.
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