The history of SEMA in Korea.
HISTORY OF SPECIAL ELECTRONIC MISSION AIRCRAFT (SEMA) IN KOREA
By CW4 (RET) Clark Jay Wilson
All United Stated Army SEMA aircraft that have operated in Korea have lineages that began with the Twin Beechcraft RL-23D or RU-8D airplanes equipped with the AN/APQ-86 Side Looking Airborne Radar (SLAR) which provided ground surveillance radar Imagery Intelligence (IMIT).
These RL-23D aircraft were attached to the 7th Aviation Company, 7th Infantry Division and were based at the old K-16 airfield which was located at Yeouido Island on the Han River south of Seoul, Korea.
The RL-23D aircraft flew from 1961 to 1962, at night along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea.
The first Grumman OV-1 Mohawks to fly in Korea began operations in October of 1963 and were based at the old K-16 Airfield, Seoul, Korea. The first Mohawk unit in Korea was the Aerial Surveillance and Target Acquisition (ASTA) Platoon attached to the 55th Aviation Company, 52nd Aviation Battalion. The ASTA Platoon provided aerial surveillance information to theater and national level consumers. The ASTA Platoon operated OV-1A and OV-1C Mohawks equipped with KA-30 camera systems that provided Image Intelligence (IMINT). The OV-1C Mohawks in Korea were not equipped the usual UAS-4 IR Infrared (IR) mapping surveillance equipment.
OV-1A 2nd ASTA Platoon
The RL-23D SLAR mission was replaced with Grumman OV-1B Mohawks equipped with the newly developed Motorola AN/APS-94B SLAR system. The OV-1B Mohawks were first deployed to Korea in July of 1964 and their unit was designated as the 2nd Aerial Surveillance and Target Acquisition (ASTA) Platoon that supported the 2nd Infantry Division. Initially all Mohawks in Korea operated out of on the old K-16 Air Base. The RL-23D aircraft flew from 1961 to 1962, at night along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea.
OV-1B of the 2nd ASTA Platoon
By May of 1970 the only Mohawk unit in Korea was the 6th Aviation Platoon Aerial Surveillance (AS) that was attached to the 55th Aviation Company, 52nd Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group.
55th Aviation Company Patch
The 6th Aviation Platoon at that time operated out of the old K-16 Airfield and was assigned four OV-1B aircraft. In April of 1971 the 55th Aviation Company along with the 6th Aviation Platoon moved 15 miles southeast to the new K-16 Seoul Air Base located near Seongnam, Korea.
6th Aviation Platoon Patch 1970-73
6th Aviation Platoon Patch 1973-76
In October of 1976 the 6th Aviation Platoon was re-designated as the 704th Military Intelligence Detachment Aerial Surveillance (MIDAS).
Patch of the 704th MIDAS "Specter"
In January of 1977, the 704th MIDAS moved to Desiderio Army Airfield at Camp Humphreys, Anjeong-ri, South Korea. The 704th was then attached to the US Army Field Station Korea, 501st Military Intelligence Group.
The first OV-1D aircraft equipped with AN/APS-94D SLAR, AN/AAS-24 IR scanners along with the KA-76 and KS-60 camera systems arrived in Korea during February 1977 and were assigned to the 704th MIDAS. The 704th MIDAS later evolved into what is now the 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion Aerial Exploitation (AE).
Original 704th MIDAS Mohawk pilots at Camp Humphreys, Korea 1977
Picture Left to Right:
CW2 Clark Wilson, CPT Ted Girouard, CW2 Mike Mooring*, CPT Mac Gardner, CPT George Spiczak, CW2 Dave Kirschbaum, CPT Jimmie Watt, CW4 Ken Franz.
Missing in this picture are CW2 John Leaf, CW4 Preston Obrey and CW2 Bill Wahlberg.
*CW2 Mike Mooring was killed on 5 April 1979 in OV-1D 69-17000 during a test flight for the US Army Aviation Test Board at Edwards AFB California.
OV-1D of the 704th MIDAS
Mohawk Ramp at Desiderio Army Airfield, Camp Humphries, Korea.
The 146th Army Security Agency (ASA) (Aviation) (Forward) was first activated at Long Than, Vietnam, 1 June 1966, and flew the De Havilland RU-6A and RU-1A Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) fixed wing aircraft along with Beechcraft RU-8D and RU-21D Laughing Eagle Special Electronic Mission Aircraft in support of US Forces in Vietnam. When deactivated in Vietnam on 17 February 1973. The 146th had been awarded three US Meritorious Unit Citations and two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry with palm for service through fifteen campaigns. The Army's fixed-winged Special Electronic Mission Aircraft contributed significantly to America's intelligence-gathering efforts during the Vietnam War.
The 146th was reactivated at Taegu Air Base, Korea on 1 July 1974 and was again tasked with the SIGINT aerial special electronic mission. The 146th received Beechcraft RU-21H aircraft with the GUARDRAIL IV SIGINT configuration in January 1975. The system was upgraded to the GUARDRAIL V configuration in November 1978.
The 146th later moved from Taegu to Camp Humphreys, and was attached to the US Army Field Station, Korea, 501st Military Intelligence Group.
On 15 December 1979 the 704th MIDAS, the 146th Army Security Agency Company (Aviation Forward), and the 542nd Military Intelligence Detachment were consolidated as one unit designated as the 146th Military Intelligence Battalion Aerial Exploitation (AE) (Provisional). The 704th MIDAS became A Company (OV-1D and RV-1D Mohawks) of the 146th. The RV-1D Mohawk had the Electronic Intelligence (ELIT) mission which was equipped with the Quick Look system.
B Company of the 146th (RU-21H) continued the lineage of the 146th Army Security Agency Company (Aviation).
146th Aviation Company Patch
On 16 June 1983, the 146th Military Intelligence Battalion (AE) (Provisional) was re-designated the 3d Military Intelligence Battalion Aerial Exploitation (AE).
The 3rd Military Intelligence Battalion (AE) is a subordinate unit to the 501st Military Intelligence Brigade.
Crest of the 3rd MI BN
The OV-1 Mohawk was retired from the United States Army inventory when on September 21st 1996 the 3rd MI Battalion flew the last United States Army OV-1 Mohawk mission.
The 3rd MI BN Mohawks were replaced with RC-7/ EO-5C fixed
wing aircraft with Communications Intelligence (COMINT) and Imagery Intelligence (IMINT) mission payloads. The RC-7 / EO-5C is a converted civilian DHC-7 De Havilland airliner.The RU-21H Guardrail aircraft were replaced with Beechcraft RC-12D and RC-12H Guardrail aircraft RC-1D and RC-12H Guardrail SIGINT aircraft.
The 3rd MI BN continues to provide intelligence collection in support of collection requirements on a daily basis. The 3rd MI Bn currently conducts intelligence collection with RC-12X Guardrail and RC-7 / EO-5C Airborne Reconnaissance Low aircraft.
RC-7 or EO-5C
The mission of the RC-7 / EO-5C:
History of United States Special Equipment Mission Aircraft: