The 90th Operations Group is the operational component of the 90th Missile Wing of the United States Air Force. It is stationed at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, and is assigned to Twentieth Air Force of Air Force Global Strike Command. The group is responsible for maintaining and operating on alert the wing's assigned LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The unit was first activated during World War II as the 90th Bombardment Group, and operated in the Southwest Pacific Theater as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber unit assigned to Fifth Air Force of the United States Army Air Forces. It was awarded two United States Distinguished Unit Citations and the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for its combat service in China, the Netherlands East Indies, New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Leyte, and Luzon. It was inactivated in the Philippines in early 1946.
The group was activated in July 1947 at Andrews Field, Maryland by Strategic Air Command (SAC), but appears not to have been manned before inactivating in September 1948. It was again activated by SAC at Fairchild Air Force Base in January 1951 and began equipping with Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers, but a reorganization the following month reduced the group to paper status until it again inactivated in June 1952.
The 90th Operations Group operates 150 LGM-30G Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles on full alert 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Its missiles are dispersed in hardened silos over a 9,600-square-mile (25,000 km2) area in three states to protect against attack and are connected to underground missile alert facilities through a system of hardened cables. It is composed of three missile squadrons, an operations support squadron and a standardization and evaluation element. Each missile squadron is responsible for five missile alert facilities and 50 Minuteman III ICBMs. Its units include the 319th, 320th and 321st Missile Squadrons and the 90th Operations Support Squadron.
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The group was first organized as the 90th Bombardment Group at Key Field, Mississippi in April 1942 as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator unit. The group's original squadrons were the 10th Reconnaissance Squadron and the 319th, 320th and 321st Bombardment Squadrons, although within a week of activation the 10th was renamed the 400th Bombardment Squadron. The group trained with Liberators in the southeastern United States under III Bomber Command until August.
The group moved to Willow Run Airport, Michigan for conversion training on newly manufactured Ford Liberators. Assigned to VII Bomber Command with B-24Ds, The unit moved to Hickam Field, Hawaii in September. The group arrived in northern Queensland, Australia in November 1942 and began bombardment missions under V Bomber Command almost immediately.
The group attacked enemy airfields, troop concentrations, ground installations and shipping in New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Palau and the southern Philippines. The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation for operations in Papua through January 1943, The unit participated in the Battle of Bismarck Sea in March 1943, and earned another citation for strikes on enemy airfields at Wewak, New Guinea in September 1943 despite heavy flak and fighter opposition.
During 1944, the 90th supported the New Guinea Campaign through the end of June, then made long-range raids on oil refineries at Balikpapan, Borneo, in September and October. In January 1945, the group moved to the Philippines and supported ground forces on Luzon, attacked industrial targets on Formosa, and bombed railways, airfields, and harbor facilities on the Asiatic mainland. Shortly before the end of the war in the Pacific, the 90th moved to Okinawa, from which it would be able to strike the Japanese home islands.
After VJ Day, the group flew reconnaissance missions over Japan and ferried Allied prisoners of war from Okinawa to Manila. Ceased operations by November 1945. The group was inactivated in the Philippines in early 1946.
The group was reactivated in July 1947 as a very heavy group at Andrews Field, Maryland, one of seven bombardment groups activated at Andrews by Strategic Air Command (SAC) that day. Most of these groups, including the 90th, were inactivated by September 1948 and it does not appear they were manned during this period.
The group was again activated at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington in January 1951 and was assigned to the 90th Bombardment Wing under the wing/base organization system. At Fairchild, it began to equip with Boeing B-29 Superfortress bombers, receiving five B-29s by the end of the month. However, as SAC mobilized for the Korean War it found that its wing commanders focused too much on running the base organization and were not spending enough time on overseeing combat preparations. To allow wing commanders the ability to focus on combat operations and the maintenance necessary to support combat aircraft, the combat and maintenance squadrons were attached directly to the wing on 16 February 1951 and the group became a paper organization. On 16 June 1952, this organization, referred to as the Dual Deputy organization, was made permanent and the group was inactivated and its squadrons were assigned directly to the wing.
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The group was redesignated the 90th Operations Group and reactivated at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming in September 1991 as the operational component of the 90th Missile Wing when the wing converted to the Objective Wing Organization. The group was assigned operational control of the wing's four missile squadrons, three of which operated 150 LGM-30G Minuteman III missiles and one of which operated 50 LGM-118A Peacekeeper missiles, plus an operational support squadron.
In February 1993, the 37th Rescue Squadron, whose Bell UH-1 Huey helicopters helped provide operational and logistical support to remote missile sites, was transferred to the group after Air Rescue Service was inactivated. The 37th, under various designations, remained under the group until August 2014, when Twentieth Air Force formed a provisional helicopter group to control the squadrons supporting its missile operations. In January 2015, the 37th Helicopter Squadron was transferred to the 582d Helicopter Group, but continued to provide the same support to the 90th's missile sites.
The wing began retiring its Peacekeeper missiles in 2001 in accordance with the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty. The last Peacekeeper was removed from alert in 2005 and the 400th Missile Squadron, which operated them, was inactivated in September 2005. The group's Minuteman III squadrons continue to maintain nuclear alert.Established as the 90th Bombardment Group (Heavy) on 28 January 1942
Activated on 15 April 1942
Redesignated 90 Bombardment Group
, Heavy on 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 27 January 1946
Redesignated 90 Bombardment Group, Very Heavy on 11 June 1947
Activated on 1 July 1947
Inactivated on 6 September 1948
Redesignated 90 Bombardment Group, Medium on 20 December 1950
Activated on 2 January 1951
Inactivated on 16 June 1952
Redesignated 90 Operations Group on 29 August 1991
Activated on 1 September 1991
III Bomber Command, 15 April 1942
VII Bomber Command, 12 September 1942
V Bomber Command, November 1942 (attached to 310th Bombardment Wing, 31 May – 3 September 1944; 15 January – 23 November 1945)
Far East Air Forces, 23 November 1945 – 27 January 1946
Strategic Air Command, 1 July 1947 – 6 September 1948
90th Bombardment Wing, 2 January 1951 – 16 June 1952
90th Missile Wing (later 90th Space Wing 90th Missile Wing), 1 September 1991 – present
10th Reconnaissance Squadron (later 400th Bombardment Squadron, 400th Missile Squadron), 15 April 1942 – 27 January 1946; 1 July 1947 – 6 September 1948; 2 January 1951 – 16 June 1952 (attached to 90th Bombardment Wing after 14 February 1951); 1 September 1991 – 19 September 2005
37th Rescue Squadron (later 37th Rescue Flight, 37th Helicopter Flight, 37 Helicopter Squadron), 1 February 1993 – 6 January 2015 (attached to 20th Air Force Helicopter Operations Group after 1 August 2014)
90th Operations Support Squadron, 1 September 1991 – present
319th Bombardment Squadron (later 319 Missile Squadron), 15 April 1942 – 27 January 1946; 1 July 1947 – 6 September 1948; 2 January 1951 – 16 June 1952 (attached to 90th Bombardment Wing after 16 February 1951); 1 September 1991 – present
320th Bombardment Squadron (later 320 Missile Squadron), 15 April 1942 – 27 January 1946; 1 July 1947 – 6 September 1948; 2 January 1951 – 16 June 1952(attached to 90th Bombardment Wing after 16 February 1951); 1 September 1991 – present
321st Bombardment Squadron (later 321 Missile Squadron), 15 April 1942 – 27 January 1946; 1 July 1947 – 6 September 1948; 2 January 1951 – 16 June 1952(attached to 90th Bombardment Wing after 16 February 1951); 1 September 1991 – present
Consolidated B-24 Liberator, 1942–1945
Boeing B-29 Superfortress, 1951
LGM-30G Minuteman III, 1991–present
LGM-118A Peacekeeper, 1991–2005
Bell UH-1 Huey, 1993–2015
. Philippine Presidential Unit Citation (WWII).