Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron THREE [VQ-3]
Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 3 is one of two squadrons assigned to Strategic Communications Wing 1, headquartered at Tinker Air Force Base.
VQ-3 accepted its first E-6B Mercury aircraft during a ceremony at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., 10 October 1997. The E-6B represents a major modification to the Navy's current aircraft inventory. It features the addition of a command module that will give service members aboard the Mercury direct command and control over strategic assets aboard ballistic missile submarines, B-2 bombers and inside missile silos. The upgrade by Raytheon E-Systems and a number of other contractors cost about $5 million per plane. Fifteen more aircraft were modified, with full integration scheduled for 2001. Eight are assigned to VQ-3 and eight to VQ-4.
From 1949 until 1977, Barbers Point was the home of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VR) 21, "Pineapple Airlines," which flew all over the Pacific in long-range transport aircraft and, until 1965, with carrier-onboard-delivery aircraft. VR-21 also began strategic communications missions in the Pacific with C-130G Hercules, the first Take Charge and Move Out (TACAMO) aircraft. In 1981 Barbers Point again became the center of Pacific Fleet TACAMO operations when Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron (VQ) 3 moved from NAS Agana, Guam, with its EC-130G/Q aircraft. In 1990 VQ-3 upgraded to the E-6A Mercury and two years later moved to Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.
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