The military hardware is studied to reveal the design, engineering and materials of the weapon, its propulsion system and electronics and even how it flies or is operated.
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Through the years, the name of the operation has changed many times but the core mission has remained the same.
World War II: The Technical Data Laboratory (TDL) studied many different Axis fighters, including German Me-262 jet fighters and Japanese A6M Zeros.
Post-World War II: T-2 Intelligence formed from TDL to include air intelligence, translated and distributed foreign language documents and air intelligence products. It even fired a rocket motor from a wrecked German V-2.
Early Cold War: In 1951, T-2 became the Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC). It worked to exploit the captured Russian MiG-15 fighters, Yakolev and Ilyushin aircraft from the Korean War.
Vietnam era: In 1961, ATIC became the Foreign Technology Division (FTD). It exploited captured MiG-17, Mig-21, MiG-23 aircraft.
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End of the Cold War: In 1993, FTD became the National Air Intelligence Center (NAIC). A new Foreign Materiel Exploitation facility was built to accommodate MiG-23, Su-22, 22 MiG-29 fighters and 507 air-to-air missiles.
04-14-05 -- Col. Joseph J. Pridotkas, Commander, National Air and space Intelligence Center, with a MiG-29 that is the only visual reference to the building on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base where the Air Force studies information on foreign aerospace threats. Ty Greenlees/DDN
Post-Sept. 11, 2001: In 2003, NAIC became the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC). The largest cache of foreign flight equipment was moved to the U.S. since World War II. Aircraft, missiles and associated support equipment was shipped from Iraq and Afghanistan, including a MiG-25RB.
MiG-25 Foxbat inside the restoration and storage hangars at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. This MiG was discovered buried in the sand by the U.S. Army in Iraq, 2003. TY GREENLEES / STAFF
In addition to the hardware, NASIC is steeped in information gathering that is managed and analyzed by more than 3,000 workers at the center to keep the Air Force informed and prepared.
Staff Sgt. Kacper Sovinski, Geospatial Intelligence Analysis Squadron research and development project manager, upgrades data drives for the airborne sensor servers July 17 at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Sovinski was recently named one of the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year by the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko)
NASIC recently tripled the size of its Foreign Materiel Exploitation facility by adding Haynes Hall at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
The National Air and Space Intelligence Center held a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Haynes Hall facility on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. The $29.5 million, 58,000 square-foot facility resembles a large airplane hangar and will be used for foreign materiel exploitation according to NASIC Commander, Col. Sean P. Larkin. TY GREENLEES / STAFF