The Air Force plans to redesignate the 319th Air Base Wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base as the 319th Reconnaissance Wing.
Redesignating the 319th, which is the host wing at Grand Forks, will align it with the 69th Reconnaissance Group, which flies the RQ-4 Global Hawk remotely piloted aircraft, the Air Force said in a May 13 release.
The 69th is a geographically separated unit of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, California, but has operated as a tenant of the 319th ABW at Grand Forks since 2011.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson on May 11 announced plans to redesignate the 319th wing during a trip to the base. The redesignation will become official June 28, when a ceremony marking the event is planned. Other changes at Grand Forks are expected this summer.
“You know some people talk about these [Global Hawks] as being autonomous, or talk about them as drones, but they are not,” Wilson said. “It is our airmen, always on watch with their ingenuity, pushing the limits for our joint warfighters around the world.”
Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, initiated the redesignation. Grand Forks was realigned to ACC from Air Mobility Command in 2017.
When the mission and personnel of the 69th align under the newly redesignated 319th Reconnaissance Wing, the unit will become the 319th Operations Group and the 69th Reconnaissance Group will inactivate. The new 319th Operations Group will still carry out the same Global Hawk intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance mission to support operations around the world.
No changes are expected at Beale, the release said.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.