The Black Cat Squadron (traditional Chinese: 黑貓中隊; pinyin: hēi māo zhōngduì) (not to be confused with Black Bat Squadron) was a squadron of the Republic of China Air Force that flew the U-2 surveillance plane out of Taoyuan Airbase in northern Taiwan, from 1961 to 1974. The formal designation of the squadron was the 35th Squadron, operating under the cover of a high altitude weather research squadron. 26 ROCAF pilots successfully completed U-2 training in the US and flew 220 operational missions, including 102 surveillance flights over the People's Republic of China.
Black Cat Squadron official emblem
When the squadron was formed in 1961, Colonel Lu Xiliang (盧錫良) became its first commander and would become its longest-serving squadron commander. Colonel Lu was born in Shanghai on December 27, 1923 and completed his training in the US. After his retirement, he and his family immigrated to Los Angeles in 1986, where he became an ardent activist for ROCAF POWs' rights, particularly the right of POWs to return to Taiwan to reunite with their families after imprisonment in mainland China. Colonel Lu died on December 15, 2008. In addition to Lu Xiliang, another six former-members of the squadron eventually settled in the US, including Zhuang Renliang (莊人亮), Wang Taiyou (王太佑) in Los Angeles, Ye Changdi (葉常棣) in Texas, Hua Xijun (華錫鈞) in Maryland, and the deputy squadron commander Yang Shiju (楊世駒) in Las Vegas.
During the squadron's 14 years of existence, five U-2's were shot down by PRC air defenses, with three pilots killed and 2 pilots captured. One other pilot was killed while performing an operational mission off China coast. Seven other Black Cat U-2s were lost during training missions, killing 6 pilots.
The squadron usually had only two U-2 assigned to it, sometimes down to just one aircraft. A total of 19 U-2s were assigned to the Black Cat Squadron, over fourteen years.
The intelligence gathered by the Black Cat Squadron, which included evidence of a military build-up on the Sino-Soviet border, may have contributed to the U.S. opening to China during the Nixon administration by revealing the escalating tensions between the two communist nations. Shortly after Nixon's visit to Beijing, all reconnaissance flights over the People's Republic ceased, and the Black Cat Squadron was officially disbanded in the spring of 1974.