FTD, then and now

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FTD, then and now Allen Thomson 1/29/05 1:51 PM
Just in case the page 404s, this seems worth stashing. Pictures not
included, alas.


Author: Bruce Ashcroft, Former NASIC Historian
Updated by: Rob Young, NASIC Historian

Part 1 - The Beginnings Of Air Technical Intelligence
Part 2 - World War II, T-2, And The Crystallization Of S&TI Principles
Part 3 - ATIC And The 1950's
Part 4 - FTD
Part 5 - The Reorganization And Normalization Of Air Force Intelligence
Appendix A - "NASIC" Commanders
Appendix B - Unit Designations And Assignments

Part 1 - The Beginnings Of Air Technical Intelligence

As Europe marched toward war early this century, nations raced to
develop advanced aircraft. American aviation lagged behind that of the
European nations technically, industrially, and militarily. As early as
1912, then Major William "Billy" Mitchell saw the need to gain
information about the military aircraft of other nations. As Chief of
the European Intelligence Section of the War Department, Mitchell
witnessed the rapid development of the airplane as a military weapon.
During the Balkan War, Bulgarian fliers conducted the first bombing
missions at Adrianople, Turkey, and Greek pilots tried to bomb warships
in the Dardanelles.

During the 1916 Punitive Expedition, American aircraft supported
General John J. Pershing's troops chasing Pancho Villa throughout
northern Mexico. The underpowered "Jenny" biplanes proved ineffective
in the high altitudes of Mexico. While pilots flew some successful
reconnaissance missions, the aircraft were most useful for carrying
mail and messages between American Army elements.

On the eve of U.S. entry into World War I, "the Army had practically no
material, personnel nor experience in the designing, producing, or
using of aeronautical equipment." With an almost nonexistent air
component (35 pilots assigned in April 1917), the military
establishment was slow to develop an air technical intelligence
mission. Consequently, Major General George O. Squier, head of the Army
Signal Corps Aviation Section, invited engineers from England, France,
and Italy to visit the United States, and he sent over 100 American
engineers to Europe to gain practical experience. General Squier also
organized the first air technical intelligence (ATI) mission--the
Bolling Commission. Under the direction of Colonel Raynal C. Bolling,
military and industrial experts traveled to Europe in June 1917 to
investigate European technology and recommend the types of aircraft and
equipment which the U.S. should produce. In July, the first foreign
aircraft arrived in New York for comprehensive study, a British De

In October 1917, the Army Signal Corps selected a site north of Dayton,
Ohio, at which to build an aviation engineering and testing center. By
locating this function in Dayton, the Army placed its aeronautical
engineers "within a night's ride of Indianapolis, Detroit, Buffalo,
Cleveland, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Washington, and the East." The
department moved from Washington, D.C., and set up temporarily in the
Lindsey Building in downtown Dayton, then relocated to McCook Field,
which officially opened on 4 December. The DeHaviland 4 received in
July moved with the Airplane Engineering Department and first flew at
Dayton on 29 October 1917. By that time, the aircraft had been fitted
with American machine guns, instruments, and a Liberty engine.

The department's missions included the evaluation of foreign scientific
and technical programs related to aircraft--the start of scientific and
technical intelligence in the "Air Force." A November 1917 organization
chart shows a Mr. E. H. Sherbondy serving as the head of the Foreign
Data Section. Early work centered on copying or modifying foreign
aircraft to help an American aircraft industry that was years behind
the Europeans.

The first, of many, organizational redesignations occurred in 1918, as
the Foreign Data Section became the Technical Publications and Library
(TPL) Department. TPL acted as the clearing house for technical data
and information, both internally to the Airplane Engineering Department
and externally to business, education, and military organizations.
Under the leadership of Captain Harry Harmon Blee, the department
procured, cross-indexed, and made available all known European and
American aviation-related technical data. The unit also prepared a
weekly summary of technical articles appearing in aeronautical
publications, translated foreign documents into English, and published
a monthly "Bulletin of the Experimental Department, Airplane
Engineering Division." The library obtained approximately 5,000 foreign
and domestic technical reports and documents, and began the work of
foreign language translations. By 1920, the newly renamed Technical
Data Section (TDS) was the recognized Army point of contact between the
Army and the American aviation industry for the dissemination of
aviation-related technical information.

Following the war, the armistice with Germany brought 347 aircraft to
the United States for technical study and as war relics. In addition to
captured German aircraft, TDS acquired British, French, and Italian
planes and a collection of engines, machine guns and aerial cannons,
navigation equipment, parachutes, and aircraft manufacturing machinery.
>From this material, an aeronautical museum evolved, initially as part
of the TDS. In 1927, the missions at McCook Field moved across town to
Wright Field (today, Area B of Wright-Patterson AFB), near Riverside,
Ohio. TDS personnel settled into offices in the second floor of
Building 11.

In 1931, the Army formally established the Army Aeronautical Museum. In
a reversal of roles, the technical intelligence function was
incorporated into the museum organizational structure. An ornate,
$275,000 structure, Building 12, opened in 1935 and housed the unit's
administrative offices, museum exhibits, technical laboratories,
library, and photographic and motion picture labs.

History and public relations were other functions acquired by technical
intelligence. Captain Blee wrote a history of the Airplane Engineering
Division in 1919, which may have been the beginning of the historical
mission. A speech prepared by Mr. Thomas McMahon, head of the
organization during the years 1922-1928, to try to keep McCook Field
from closing may have marked the beginning of the public relations
function. The unit provided historical and public relations support to
all of the Army Air Forces (AAF) units in the Dayton area, working
primarily with the Headquarters AAF Materiel Center. A final mission
area involved making motion picture studies of engineering experiments.
This, in turn, grew to the point where the unit would produce
educational and historical films for the AAF during World War II.

In 1937 and 1938, the unit was led by one of the world's leading
experts in the area of high altitude photography, Major Albert W.
Stevens. Born in Maine on 13 March 1886, Stevens received his master of
science degree from the University of Maine in 1909. Commissioned in
February 1918, he was an early proponent of aerial photography. Stevens
was in charge of the photographic lab at McCook Field in the early
1920s (not associated with the technical intelligence function), but he
spent much of his time doing work in the field. He took a two month
trip to the American West in 1923 and a nine month expedition to the
Upper Amazon River basin in 1924-1925. In 1931 he used "illumination
bombs," dropped over New York City's Hudson River, to test nighttime
aerial photography.

Captain Stevens received extensive recognition for his work in
conjunction with the National Geographic Society in the mid-1930s.

The Explorer I flight on 28 July 1934 attained a height of 60,000 feet
when the three-man crew discovered a tear in the air bag. At about
3,000 feet, the balloon exploded and the crew safely parachuted to
earth. Explorer II, using helium instead of hydrogen and with a larger
air bag than Explorer I, reached an altitude of 72,395 feet during its
11 November 1935 flight and set a world record for manned ascents. The
balloon carried 2,000 pounds of scientific equipment, and the project
team captured extensive data about upper atmospheric conditions. From
Explorer II, Captain Stevens photographed the ground at the horizon at
a distance of 330 miles, and one exposure captured one half of the
state of Indiana. Captain Stevens was promoted to major in 1936, just
prior to moving to the Museum. For each of his National Geographic
flights, he received a Distinguished Flying Cross.

In the actions leading up to World War II, the European and Japanese
aircraft and armament industries again surpassed America's. A Russian
aircraft held the long-distance straight line flight record and the
Italians owned the altitude record. German pilots had flown faster than
anyone else and by 1939 had demonstrated the viability of a turbojet.
It was also during the decade of the 1930s that the Italians sharpened
their war fighting skills in Ethiopia, the Germans in Spain, and the
Japanese in Manchuria.

With the ever increasing need to gain information about foreign
aircraft, Materiel Division de-emphasized the Museum function at Wright
Field, renaming its air intelligence function the Technical Data Branch
in February 1940. This became the Technical Data Section in a July 1941
reorganization. From less than 100 people assigned in July 1941, the
mission would grow dramatically during the war years until nearly 750
people were assigned by December 1945.

Part 2 - World War II, T-2, And The Crystallization of S&TI Principles

Much has been written about America's unpreparedness for war in 1941.
The aircraft of Europe and Japan outperformed American aircraft, though
the gap would be significantly reduced by 1945. Fortunately for the
United States and its allies, even though the Germans were far ahead in
the development of jet aircraft and missiles, they were not decisive
factors in World War II.

In 1942, the TDS became the Technical Data Laboratory (TDL). As front
line troops captured enemy equipment, they sent the materiel back to
Wright Field for assessment. The first German and Japanese aircraft
arrived in 1943, and captured equipment soon filled six buildings, a
large outdoor storage area, and part of a flight-line hangar. To allow
its engineers to study this equipment, TDL closed its museum and stored
the exhibits in two temporary wooden barns. As its mission grew, the
laboratory also expanded physically. In 1943, the Motion Picture
Section took over Building 30, the Photo Engineering Section moved into
Building 300, and the Camera Unit, Art Department, and the Supply
Office occupied both floors of Building 100-T ("temporary"). Materiel
Command also assigned a B-25 to the Motion Picture Section to film test
flights. In 1944, the Army Air Forces Materiel Command and the Air
Service Command merged to form the Air Technical Service Command

One early air technical intelligence (ATI) program involved the
collection of factory markings data and name plates. In the fall of
1942, the first twelve "Air Force" officers to receive ATI field
collection training were assigned to Wright Field for training in the
technical aspects of "crash" intelligence. This course utilized
laboratory directors and Squadron Leader Colley, from the British Royal
Air Force, who identified the types of information that could be
obtained from equipment marking plates, such as temperature or pressure
ranges. The students also learned to gather air order of battle
information from squadron markings. One officer who attended this
training, William D. McGarey, went to the Air Ministry in London and
worked on German ball bearing markings. This led to the intensive
bombing efforts against ball bearing plants in 1943. Major McGarey
later served in the Southwest Pacific. During his tour, he personally
inspected and removed the nameplates from some 1,000 Japanese aircraft.
These plates provided one of the best sources of target data for
manufacturing plants on the home islands of Japan.

The most famous World War II (and immediate post-war period) technical
intelligence missions in Europe were Project Lusty and Operation
Paperclip. Project Lusty brought fame to Colonel Harold E. Watson,
twice commander of the Air Technical Intelligence Center (a NASIC
predecessor). Colonel Watson, and a group of hand-picked pilots known
as "Watson's Whizzers," gathered German aircraft from the battlefield
and sent them back to Wright Field for study. The best known of these
aircraft was the Messerschmidt 262 jet fighter. When Brigadier General
George C. McDonald, Director of Intelligence for the United States Air
Forces (USSTAF) in Europe expanded the scope of Project Lusty in April
1945, Colonel Watson was assigned as chief of the air technical
intelligence teams.

Colonel Donald L. Putt, Chief of Technical Services for USSTAF from
October 1944 to August 1945, provided overall guidance for Project
Lusty and the collection of aircraft, equipment, and German technical
documents in the European theater of operations. From Europe, Colonel
Putt headed stateside and headed the technical intelligence mission at
Wright Field from September 1945-December 1946. Two of his division
chiefs were Colonel Watson, Collections Division, and Colonel Howard M.
McCoy, Documents Division . After his intelligence tours, Colonel Putt
eventually attained the rank of lieutenant general, serving as
commander of the Air Research and Development Command in 1953 and,
later, as Military Director of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board.

To help the AAF test the capabilities of these aircraft and engines,
ATSC activated Freeman Field, Indiana, as its Foreign Aircraft
Evaluation Center. Eventually, the German aircraft, including V-1 and
V-2 missiles, migrated to Freeman Field, and ATSC (later divided into
Materiel and Research and Development Commands) tested the Japanese
equipment at the Middletown Air Depot, located south of Dayton. By May
1946, 58 German aircraft, 129 Japanese aircraft, and 638 foreign
aircraft engines were on hand at ATSC installations or en route.
Foreign aircraft also went to Muroc Air Force Base, California (later,
renamed Edwards) for flight testing.

Operation Paperclip, also under the direction of Colonel Putt (while
Putt was in Europe and, later, at Wright Field) brought over 200 German
scientists and technicians to Wright Field for collaboration with their
American counterparts. Initially assigned to the intelligence branch,
most of the scientists eventually went to work in the various Wright
Field labs.

Colonel Howard M. McCoy served as General McDonald's assistant, then
organized and headed the Air Documents Research Center (ADRC) in
London, England. The ADRC effort involved the translation, cataloging,
indexing, and microfilming of captured German technical documents. In
1946, the center moved to Wright Field and became the Air Documents
Division of TDL's successor organization, T-2. Three hundred people
processed over 1,500 tons of documents, adding 100,000 new technical
terms to the English language. The technical knowledge gained from
these documents revolutionized American industry. In addition to the
aviation-related advances, new designs for vacuum tubes used in
communications, the development of magnetic tapes used in tape
recordings and computers, night vision devices, improvements in liquid
and solid fuels, advances in textiles and drugs and in food
preservation were made available to American manufacturers. Colonel
McCoy became the T-2 director in December 1946. The original ARDC
function moved to the Washington, DC, area, eventually becoming the
Defense Technical Information Center.

In the Pacific theater of war, General Douglas MacArthur authorized
intelligence personnel to "take complete charge of all enemy crashed or
captured aircraft or personnel." Captain Frank T. McCoy and Technical
Sergeant Francis Williams helped organize a Materiel Section for
technical intelligence operations in Melbourne, Australia, in 1942. In
addition to providing information on aircraft and weapons performance,
Captain McCoy and Sergeant Williams assigned code names to Japanese
aircraft--feminine names for bombers and masculine names for fighters.
It may not be surprising that "Frank" and "Frances" became the names of
two Japanese aircraft. In October 1944, Lieutenant Colonel Frank Mccoy
became officer-in-charge of the newly formed Technical Air Intelligence
Unit attached to the Far East Air Forces.

The experiences of World War II shaped the future of the scientific and
technical intelligence mission. T-2 Intelligence, established on 1 July
1945, began the move toward a balanced integration of engineering and
intelligence. The administrative offices of T-2 moved to Building 262
in Area A (today, part of the Air Force Materiel Command headquarters
building). A July 1947 T-2 study articulated a three-fold mission for
air technical intelligence:

1. Insure the prevention of strategic, tactical or technological
surprise from any source.

2. Provide intelligence required for command decisions and counsel upon
air preparedness and air operations.

3. Insure appropriate counter-intelligence measures.

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 finished air intelligence products and/or basic data,
documents, and equipment as authorized.

The T-2 organization included Analysis, Air Documents, and Photographic
Divisions and also the Air Materiel Command (AMC) History Office. (The
History Office was transferred to AMC headquarters in 1947, along with
other non-intelligence functions.) As the World War II-related materiel
exploitation and document translation programs closed, the technical
intelligence section shrank in size. By 1950, only 329 people remained.
Also, between 1945 and 1950 the mission focus changed.

While T-2 had established an office to track Soviet weapons as early as
1943, it remained small as German and Japanese projects were top

Through the end of the decade of the 1940s, intelligence efforts turned
increasingly toward the emerging technological threat posed by the
Russians. T-2 also opened an office in July 1947 for the study of
unidentified flying objects (UFO), popularly known as "flying saucers."
Initially called Project Sign (and redesignated Project Grudge in
1949), the UFO program brought T-2's successors their greatest public
visibility. By the end of the decade, the Technical Intelligence
Department (established in October 1947) began providing air technical
intelligence services for the Air Staff's Director of Intelligence.

In 1951, the technical intelligence administrative offices moved from
Building 262 to 263, a temporary building with a series of Butler
buildings attached. (Building 263 and the Butler buildings were torn
down in 1974; it was located where Barnes Park is today, next to AFMC
headquarters.) People who worked in the building remember it as a
terrible place to work. It was unbearably hot in the summers and
equally cold in the winters.

T-2 organized the Air Technical Liaison Officer (ATLO) program in 1947
to serve as overseas technical intelligence assets. As the program
evolved, ATLOs provided technical assistance to in-theater U.S.
military headquarters. Depending on their background, some collected
foreign documents and equipment. Others gathered information from
foreign scientists, especially German scientists returning from the
Soviet Union. Some attended technical conferences and trade fairs;
others established relationships with industrialists and foreign
military personnel. Some helped administer, or were involved with,
refugee camps for people fleeing to the West as the Soviet Union
tightened its grip over its satellite states in the 1940s and 1950s.

Part 3 - ATIC And The 1950s

The 1950s were a time of international turmoil, a time when the
"Russian threat" seemed ever more dangerous. The Korean War and the
sensational allegations of Senator Joseph McCarthy made the "Red
Threat" palpable. On 21 May 1951, the United States Air Force
established the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) as a field
activity of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence. After ten
years, on 1 July 1961, ATIC was inactivated and the Foreign Technology
Division (FTD) established. The 1950s, then, provided the backdrop
against which ATIC performed its mission.

The Korean War gave ATIC its first major opportunity to directly
influence military strategy. In the late 1940s, the British sold the
Russians their state-of-the-art "Nene" aircraft engine. Coupled with a
Soviet airframe, this became the MiG-15 jet. Even prior to the creation
of ATIC, technical intelligence analysts in Dayton had begun examining
Soviet military systems and had developed estimated performance
characteristics for the new Soviet fighter. Early in 1951, ATIC
analysts obtained engine parts and the tail section of a crashed MiG-15
from the Korean theater. Later, in July, the center received a
complete, though crashed, MiG-15.

In addition to conducting its own assessment, ATIC invited fourteen
major aircraft companies to view the MiG-15, to offer technical
assessments, and to become more familiar with the Russian aircraft.
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. By the
end of the Korean War, ATIC manpower had increased to 634 personnel, a
50 percent increase since its activation in 1951. The center had also
obtained IL-10 and YAK-9 aircraft in operational condition. In
September 1953, shortly following the conclusion of the war, a North
Korean defector delivered a MiG-15 to Kimpo Air Base near Seoul (Read
story of the defection). A team of ATIC analysts monitored the MiG-15
flight test program at Kadena Air Force Base, Okinawa, which included
flights by one Major Charles E. "Chuck" Yeager from the Air Force
Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB. Because of the large amount of
materiel (and documents) gathered during the war, ATIC awarded a
contract to Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio, for
analytical work and document translation. This was the start of a
relationship that has lasted over 40 years.

Throughout the 1950s, ATIC analysts pioneered the use of computers for
aircraft analysis. In May 1957, for example, the center employed its
Readix computer in preparing a study entitled, "The Vulnerability of
Bison, Badger and Bear to Current and Future U.S. Interceptor Weapons."
In the latter half of the year, analysts used the computer to perform
fighter-bomber air duel analysis between Russian and U.S. aircraft.

As Soviet technology advanced, ATIC analysis became increasingly
important to national security issues. In 1954, evidence pointed to the
Russian development of long-range bomber aircraft comparable to the
American B-52. To mask the true strength of their bomber fleet, the
Soviet military allowed the U.S. Air Attache in Moscow to view the
fly-by rehearsal for the annual Armed Forces Day. The attache reported
two waves of Bison bombers, totaling 28 aircraft. Unbeknownst to the
American, the second wave of Soviet aircraft included those from the
first. The first group of aircraft simply circled and joined the second
flight. Based on this ruse, U.S. estimates of Soviet bomber aircraft
production increased dramatically, creating a projected "bomber gap."

ATIC analysis of a long-range, strategic bomber began during the first
half of 1954. By the end of the year, studies had been drafted on Bison
and Badger bombers, as well as a study on their engines. Analysts
estimated that the aircraft would not be delivered to operational units
until 1957. U-2 flights over Russia in June 1956 gathered better data
on bomber production. Resultant analysis brought lowered estimates on
aircraft production. While national estimates of bomber production
fell, the Soviet military seemed to turn its efforts toward the
development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The "bomber gap"
was replaced by a "missile gap."

As with the "bomber gap," the "missile gap" was partially a result of
Soviet artifice. Premier Nikita Krushchev and other Soviet leaders
fabricated a series of space triumphs to create the illusion of missile
superiority. Krushchev talked about missiles coming off production
lines "like sausages," though the inventory of long range missiles
remained low.

Air Materiel Command Intelligence established a missiles office in
October 1950, even before ATIC was activated. And in October 1951 ATIC
published its first Soviet missile study. During the first half of
1956, analytic work on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) began
receiving priority attention. Under contract with ATIC, the Convair
Astronautics Division of General Dynamics prepared a study called,
"ICBM Manufacturing Analysis Related to Soviet Capabilities." This work
allowed center analysts to determine ICBM production lead times, showed
the possible acceleration of the production schedule by the Soviets,
and pointed toward operational availability dates. During the last half
of 1957, especially following the Sputnik launches in October, the
demand for ATIC products and services outstripped the center's ability
to respond. In technical intelligence areas, center personnel
identified a new family of telemetry signals which could be used to
study Soviet ballistic missiles, and gas dynamics analysis conducted
from photographs of rocket exhaust patterns helped determine rocket
performance data.

ATIC analysis contributed to the National Intelligence Estimates (NIE)
on missiles, and the center also supported other Air Force Assistant
Chief of Staff for Intelligence (ACS/I) elements. Information from the
center's "Semi-annual Offensive Missile Study" and products relating to
Soviet science and technology capabilities and trends found its way
into the national estimates. The May 1958 NIE predicted a massive
Soviet missile build up, with as many as 1,000 missiles being
operational by the end of 1961. The American inventory could not keep
pace, hence there would be a "missile gap." As further evidence was
gathered, analysts recognized that the Soviets were experiencing
technical difficulties with their ICBM program, and the production
estimates began to fall. As a result, by January 1960 national leaders
concluded that the missile gap was not a serious threat to American

As the indications increased that the Russians were achieving ICBM
capability, Soviet satellite and missile programs received increased
attention from national policymakers. ATIC analysts began formally
studying the Soviet capability to launch an earth satellite in March
1956. By the end of the year, they concluded that such an achievement
was imminent. This analysis proved accurate, and in the spring of 1957,
the preparation for a launch was detected. On 4 October, the Russians
successfully launched the first earth orbiting satellite, Sputnik I.

Immediately following the Sputnik launches in October 1957, the Air
Staff increased center manning from 723 people (fiscal year (FY) 1957
end strength) to 1,062 FY 1958 manpower authorizations. In 1959, the
Air Force renamed ATIC, recognizing the importance of the space-related
mission. Instead of "Air" Technical Intelligence Center, on 21
September the unit became the "Aerospace" Technical Intelligence
Center. In 1959, ATIC began studying Chinese trends in offensive
missiles and space vehicles.

The 1950s also saw a continuing interest in UFOs. In March 1952, ATIC
established an Aerial Phenomena Group to study the reported sightings,
and a new name was assigned to the program-- Project Blue Book.
Probably the most highly publicized events during the ATIC years was a
series of sightings in Washington, DC, in 1952. On 29 July Major
General John Samford, the Air Force ACS/I held a press conference to
explain the phenomena. Captain Roy James, a radar expert at ATIC, was
brought to Washington to discuss the radar "sightings." Captain James
was also a featured guest on the national radio talk show, "Face the
Nation." In May 1955, ATIC published Project Blue Book Special Report
#14. To help diffuse criticism that the Air Force was "hiding" UFO
findings from the public, the Secretary of the Air Force made Special
Report #14 part of the "public domain" and allowed the Department of
Commerce to sell copies to the public.

Finally, mention needs to be made of center contributions in 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. The center even had
its own aircraft (a C-47 and a C-54). These were used to transport
materiel to Wright-Patterson AFB, to test new data collection and
photographic systems, and for official travel.

One of the critical systems developed during the 1950s and early 1960s
was an over-the-horizon radar to better monitor Russian missile
launches. Mr. Elmond Decker was given free reign to do the technical
research to engineer the system, and he personally briefed Air Force
Chief of Staff, General Curtis E. LeMay, on the proposed new system's

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, Brigadier
General Watson lobbied the Air Staff for the construction of a new
headquarters building. On 18 July 1956, ATIC held a ground breaking
ceremony for a 100,000 square-foot complex, Building 828. In addition
to office spaces, the building was specifically designed to house the
center's Readix computer.

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, Brigadier
General Watson lobbied the Air Staff for the construction of a new
headquarters building. On 18 July 1956, ATIC held a ground breaking
ceremony for a 100,000 square-foot complex, Building 828. In addition
to office spaces, the building was specifically designed to house the
center's Readix computer.

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 Department of Defense Directive establishing the DIA 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 S&TI 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 (AFSC; previously the
Air Research and Development Command).

General Bernard A. Schriever, ARDC/AFSC commander from April 1959
through August 1966, noted that the United States was engaged in
"technological conflict" with the Soviet Union. To win that conflict,
S&TI had to be integrated with system development. AFSC discontinued
ATIC effective 1 July 1961, establishing the Foreign Technology
Division (FTD) at the same time. In addition to intelligence
applications, AFSC expected the investigation of foreign technology to
provide a yardstick against which American research and development
could be measured. Analysis of foreign technology would also allow a
cross-fertilization of ideas.

F - T - D

The initials, "FTD," are how many people still refer to the aerospace
intelligence mission at Wright-Patterson. In 1961, with the formation
of the Defense Intelligence Agency and reorganization within the Air
Force, ATIC was reassigned to Air Force Systems Command and
redesignated the Foreign Technology Division (FTD). For the next 30
years the center kept the same name. FTD personnel became known
throughout the Air Force and the intelligence community as the experts
in Soviet aircraft, missile, and related equipment performance. The
"official" history of HQ NASIC starts with the formation of FTD in
1961. From 1961 to 1991, the Foreign Technology Division was the Air
Force's S&TI center of excellence for foreign air and space systems.

During the FTD years, unit manning rose and fell with world events.
>From 911 authorizations in 1961, the division more than doubled its
manpower by 1968/1969 at the height of the Vietnam War. Paralleling
American withdrawal from Southeast Asia, FTD authorizations fell to
1,587 people in 1976. During the Carter, Reagan, and Bush
administrations, division strength increased to a peak of 1,957 in 1990
as technology transfer and weapons proliferation became national
security issues.

With the formation of FTD, the post-World War II ATLO program was
transformed. The division gained five detachments, located in Virginia,
California, Germany, Japan, and Massachusetts. The German and Japanese
detachments, for the most part, continued the ATLO mission, but in a
different organizational format. Det 5, in Massachusetts, closed almost
immediately. (FTD later established a new Detachment 5 at Buckley Air
National Guard Base, Colorado.) Later, in 1965, Det 2 (located in
California) closed as a cost-cutting measure and Det 1, providing
direct support to the ACS/I, closed the following year.

Also during the FTD years, the unit enhanced its physical plant.
Building 829 joined 828 in 1967. This 40,000 square foot wing housed
FTD's growing sensor data processing and analysis mission. On 16
September 1976, the division held formal dedication ceremonies for the
recently finished Building 856, a 320,000 square foot addition. The
Honorable Clarence J. Brown, Congressman for Ohio's 7th District,
delivered the dedication address and General Watson attended the

At the same time, computer systems improved and proliferated. 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. One such specialized system was the
Photo-online-System (PHOTOLS). The division installed its first
automated imagery data base in 1961. Today, PHOTOLS stores over 2
million records.

FTD's "signature" in computerized data bases was CIRC, the Central
Information Reference and Control system. The initial version of this
automated library of scientific and technical information went on-line
in 1963. Because of its expertise in S&TI document cataloging,
processing, and indexing, the Air Force had delegated responsibility
for its foreign "open source" (typically, commercial foreign language
publications) document program to ATIC in 1959. By the late 1960s,
because of its growing data base capabilities, the Department of
Defense made FTD the executive agent for the entire military S&TI
literature program. Now, nearing the end of 1993, CIRC has grown to
include information from and reference to over 10 million documents, 85
percent of which are unclassified, open source publications.

Another hallmark of FTD was (and continues to be for HQ NASIC) its
machine translation (MT) capabilities. In 1955, ATIC asked the Rome Air
Development Center at Griffiss AFB, New York, to develop an MT system
for the center. The IBM Mark I Translating Device produced its first
automated translation in 1959, and, in October 1963, FTD installed the
Mark II, which provided word-for-word Russian language translations at
the rate of about 5,000 words per hour. In July 1970, FTD upgraded to
an IBM 360 Systran system. Translation speed increased 20-fold and the
system analyzed the Russian text sentence-by-sentence to provide
improved grammar and syntax. In October 1982, an optical character
reader was added to the system to more fully automate text translation.
Today's MT capabilities provides translation "on-the-fly." Within
seconds after receiving text, the computer begins providing the
translation. Also, almost all HQ NASIC personnel have access to the
interactive machine translation system. Russian is the most "robust"
language, with built-in Russian translation dictionaries containing
more than 350,000 words and expressions. Altogether, today's
translation branch works with more than 20 diverse languages, using
both human and machine capabilities.

The early years of the FTD era were marked by a near brush with nuclear
war during the Cuban missile crisis and, then, Vietnam. Information on
Soviet strategic missile installations in Cuba came from four primary
sources--shipping intelligence, refugees leaving the country,
intelligence agents within Cuba, and U-2 overflights. FTD photographic
analysts provided some of the critical evaluation leading to President
Kennedy's decision to impose a naval blockade on the island. U-2
flights in July, August, and September had provided hints as to the
installations, but a 14 October 1962 U-2 flight gathered definitive
photographs of the missiles. The blockade had the desired effect, and
Krushchev removed the missiles.

U.S. involvement in Vietnam dated back to the Eisenhower
administrations of the 1950s. Following French withdrawal in 1954, the
United States began to assume the primary job of propping up the South
Vietnamese government against the Communist threat from the North. By
31 December 1959, 760 American military personnel were in South
Vietnam. President Kennedy continued to expand American support, and by
the end of 1963 over 16,000 troops had been committed.

The United States lost its first aircraft to a Soviet surface-to-air
missile (SAM) in July 1965. In September, FTD sent a team of analysts
to Vietnam to support the Air Force units in theater. The analysts
briefed combat crews on the strengths and weaknesses of the SAMs and
how to get into and out of combat areas without being shot down. It has
been said that every Air Force pilot in Vietnam and Thailand, and Navy
pilots operating off aircraft carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin, received
the FTD briefing.

FTD also figured prominently in the December 1972 Linebacker II
operations that brought a conclusion to the peace negotiations.
Linebacker II, also known as "the Christmas bombings," targeted Hanoi
and Haiphong with fury. On the first day of operations, the United
States lost 18 aircraft. Because of their expertise in SAM operations,
FTD analysts helped develop electronic counter-measures which reduced
American aircraft losses. In January 1973 the final peace agreement was
signed; by the end of March, only 8,500 U.S. civilian technicians and
military advisors remained in Vietnam.

With the build up in Vietnam, the Air Force closed its UFO
investigations. From 1947 through 1969, FTD and its predecessor
organizations studied 12,618 repor...