CH-3 Mid-Air Retrieval (MARS) version with AQM-34 drone from 432nd Tactical Drone Group.
My name is Larry Wielgosz. I took the photo of the MARS bird CH-3E #687 carrying the drone. The date of the photo is April 1978 taken at Nellis AFB, Nevada during Red Flag 78-5 and Brave Shield 17 exercise. Maj. Gerry Moore was the Detachment 1 Commander. The photo was taken just as the aircraft was returning with the drone and ready to unload it. The exercise lasted from March 30, 1978 to April 18, 1978 and 24 helicopter sorties were launched on time. The unit was the 432nd Tactical Drone Group based at Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ. I was a helicopter mechanic in the USAF and was assigned to the 432nd TDG for 2 years.
I have photos from the 432nd TDG, 33rd ARRS (HH-53C), 302nd SOS (CH/HH-3E). I was assigned to all these units. I currently work for the DOD at Sikorsky Aircraft inspecting & accepting helos for
the U.S. & foreign military. Including a couple of HH-60Gs.
432nd Tactical Drone Group
Emblem of the 432d Tactical Drone Group
Drone operations had begun at Davis-Monthan AFB under Tactical Air Command in 1971 with the establishment of the 11th Tactical Drone Squadron on 1 July 1971 under the 355th Tactical Fighter Wing. The 22d Tactical Drone Squadron was a second drone squadron at Davis-Monthan, being activated and assigned to the 432d Tactical Drone Group on 1 July 1976:
The 432d was reactivated at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona on 1 July 1976 as the 423d Tactical Drone Group. The 432d performed photographic reconnaissance to support tactical air and surface forces with tactical drones. Used AQM-34L/M/V drones, DC-130 launch vehicles, and CH-3 recovery helicopters. The group conducted follow-on testing and evaluation of the AQM-34V model drone and the initial operational testing and evaluation and developmental testing and evaluation of the DC-130H “mother ship.” The 432d also supported testing and evaluation of the BQM-34C drone at Hill AFB, Utah.
The group was inactivated in April 1979.
Pacific Air Forces
In July 1984 the 432d was again reactivated as the 432d Tactical Fighter Wing at Misawa AB, Japan. The 432d controlled two F-16 Fighting Falcon squadrons (13th Fighter Squadron, 14th Fighter Squadron) and a rescue squadron (39th RQS) flying the HH-53 “Super Jolly Green Giant” helicopter.
The 432d was replaced by the 35th Fighter Wing on 1 October 1994 at Misawa and again became inactive[
Air Combat Command
The wing was reactivated at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, on 1 May 2007 as the Air Force’s first unmanned aircraft systems wing. It was renamed the 432d Air Expeditionary Wing in May, 2008.