The 7 Reconnaissance Squadron plans and executes worldwide high-altitude combat surveillance and reconnaissance missions including peacetime intelligence gathering, contingency operations and conventional warfare. Operating the RQ-4B Global Hawk Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA), the 7 RS provides signals intelligence and near real-time imagery intelligence to fulfill operational requirements generated by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in support of the Secretary of Defense and unified commanders.
Approximately 85 active duty and 67 civilian members are assigned to the 7th RS. The unit consists of Maintenance, Operations, Material Management, Cyber Ops, Security Forces and support personnel. The unit falls under the 69th Reconnaissance Group, 9th Reconnaissance Wing and is located at NAS Sigonella, Sicily Italy.
Activated as 7th Aero Squadron on 29 March 1917 and redesignated as the 7th Squadron on 14 March 1921; 7th Observation Squadron in April 1925; 7th Reconnaissance Squadron on 1 September 1937; 7th Reconnaissance Squadron (Medium Range) on 6 December 1939; 7th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy) on 20 November 1940; 397th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 11 May 1942. Inactivated on 1 November 1946; Reactivated as 7th Reconnaissance Squadron 15 May 2015.
From inception, the 7 RS was destined for reconnaissance since March of 1917. Captain Henry “Hap” Arnold formed and commanded the first aviation squadron. That squadron was designated the 7th Aero Squadron with a mission in defense of the Panama Canal. At the end of WWI, the squadron returned back to the United States for demobilization. As WWII began, the now redesignated 397th Bombardment Squadron was assigned to Guatemala city Airport where they were assigned patrols of the Pacific in January 1942. After performing multiple patrol missions from 12 different locations, the squadron eventually settled and would be deactivated at Rio Hato Field, Panama in 1946. During its entire activation the 7th RS would eventually maintain 17 different aircraft and serve in both WWI and WWII.
The unit carries the following honors:
World War II: Antisubmarine, American Theater
JN-4, R-3 (R-9), and R-4, during period 1917-1919; DH-4, included JN-4, HS2L, 0A-1, and 0-2, during period 1919-1931; 0-19, 1930–1937; OA-4, 1930–1936; B-10, 1936–1939; B-18, 1938–1942; B-17, 1941–1942; LB-30 (B-29A), 1942–1944; A-17A, 1943; RB-17, 1943; B-24, 1943-1946; RQ-4, 2015-Present.