{reck'-ee}, adj. -
military jargon: abbreviated form of (aerial) "reconnaissance", to describe one's mission. Originally British, from the UK English pronunciation of "reconnaissance" as "reck-con'-ess-ents". Compare "recon," which implies land-based reconnaissance.

Recce flyers have one of the most important "non-combat" jobs in the modern military: they collect the data that become tactical intelligence--primarily for the warrior in the field. The customer can be a pilot who took off an hour after the recce bird with full pylons, a mechanized infantry brigade about to pop over the ridge, or a "plans" weenie back home who wants to know exactly how many SAM sites there are before assigning the fighter jocks to go in there at dawn. Recce flyers often put themselves at great risk to collect the data that the warriors need; most recce platforms have to go light on armament in order to carry their payload, putting them at even more risk. While they may be equipped with jammers, flares, or chaff, recce platforms do not typically undertake electronic warfare missions, such as SEAD. The mission is to

  1. get in;
  2. take a picture of whatever-it-is-that-is-so-dangerous-we-won't-send-a-pilot-in-without-letting-him-have-a-good-look-first; and
  3. get out.
Everything else is just style points.

Calling a platform a "recce bird" implies electro-optical reconnaissance--photographs--but it is possible to measure an enemy's "signature" in other wavelengths, such as infrared or radar. Some American recce platforms include:

More recently, with the advent of satellites, a "recce bird" can mean any spy satellite as well. Soon, it will doubtless cover UAVs like the Global Hawk and Predator.

Since you lads coined the term, I'd appreciate any British aviation buffs /msg'ing me the names of a few of Her Majesty's recce birds. The ravens at The Tower of London don't count...

It must be noted that recce (a term generally explained well above) is not a role restricted to flying vehicles. There are numerous armoured and non-armoured land vehicles that serve this crucial battlefield role. Examples include the Canadian Stuart V (M3A3) and Stuart VI (M5A1). Actually, the versatility of those particular vehicles reinforces the numerous roles that can be plaid by recce capable components of a tank column or battle group. They can be used to carry ammunition, wounded soldiers, and troops (though that role is better left to the more capable armoured personnel carriers like the Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Armoured reconnaissance vehicles played a vital role before the advent of modern aerial surveillance in terms of maintaining battlefield awareness on the part of the commander. While their role has been largely superceded now, the versatility of a recce type armoured vehicle is not something that should be entirely abandoned in favour of the raw firepower of a main battle tank like the M1A2 Abrams.


http://www.geocities.com/cmpvehicles/stuart_vi_recce.html http://www.pmbradley.org/

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