The 1960's witnessed the largest growth and expansion in the 497th history. The growth was in response to the increased need for intelligence support caused by the explosion of world events in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In August 1961, the Soviets erected the Berlin Wall, and the Air Force responded by deploying 101,207 personnel to Europe in anticipation of a Soviet invasion. Air corridors between West Germany and Berlin became a grave matter of concern to USAFE as there aircraft in one year were shot down over the Eastern Block.
The 497th RTS, during this time period, was tasked to monitor the corridors to prevent further mishaps. In addition to the changes on planet Earth, progress in space launched vehicles and systems were "skyrocketing" . Furthermore, the US built the Minuteman and the USSR detonated its first 50 megaton H-Bomb. This lethal linkage of technologies combined with the space race, meant an expanded 497th mission to identify and classify all the new equipment. In the Middle East, Iraq attempted to occupy Kuwait, and with some special help from the 497th, the British successfully defended it.
The 497th grew physically once the 7650th Aeronautical Chart and Information (AC&I) Squadron relocated from the Schierstein Compound to Mainz Kastel in 1962. During this same year, renovation in building S-1, added an SCI secured facility to the second floor.
And in 1965, the 497th operational excellence was recognized by achieving its first Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA).
While the unit was growing physically, it was also growing in respect and stature, earning its second Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (AFOUA). At the same time (October 1967) it was also designated as the USAFE Intelligence Research Center (IRC)/497th RTG. The IRC was assigned directly to the USAFE Deputy Chief of Staff, Intelligence. This step, more than just a name change, increased the operational responsibility of the unit dramatically including the mission of observing the Berlin corridors. The Intelligence Research Center now boasted 73 officers, 296 enlisted and 23 civilians. In June 1966 It absorbed the USAFE Target Directorate which was dissolved and moved from the Lindsey Air Station to Schierstein to become a part of the newly formed IRC. A processing center at Brampton, UK was also added to its assets, which complimented the theater's largest mass reproduction capability, based at Schierstein.
As a money and resource saving venture, the 497th RTG also pioneered the theater's first silver recovery operation, recovering silver from old film, photos and processing chemicals.
In June 1968, the Target Division was accorded full directorate status and computer support personnel moved into building S-2. In September, U.S. Army personnel at Schierstein, who had been associated with the mission of the 497th, were formally incorporated into the 497th under the provisions of a Memorandum of Understanding between Hq. USAFE and U.S. Army Europe.
Dynamic growth and increasing mission responsibilities caused the Air Force to increase the Commander's billet to be upgraded to Colonel, and the command position was held by a colonel until the unit was deactivated.