Retired July 1, 1992.
Maj. Gen. Robert R. Rankine Jr. is deputy chief of staff for technology, Headquarters Air Force Systems Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
General Rankine was born in 1936, in Chicago and graduated from Arlington Heights (Ill.) High School in 1954. He earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois in 1958, a master of science degree in electrical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology in 1964 and a doctorate in engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1970. The general completed Squadron Officer School in 1962, Armed Forces Staff College in 1973 and Industrial College of the Armed Forces in 1978.
Commissioned in the Air Force in June 1958 through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program at the University of Illinois, General Rankine entered active duty in September 1958 as the radar maintenance officer with the 702nd Radar Squadron, Hunter Air Force Base, Ga. He subsequently served as communications and electronics officer until April 1962.
After completing Squadron Officer School in August 1962, the general entered the School of Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and completed his master's degree. In June 1964 he transferred to the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory as control techniques group leader in the Flight Control Division. During that time he also spent two months in Southeast Asia as a member of an Air Force Systems Command team investigating aircraft survivability. In May 1968 he entered the University of California at Los Angeles for graduate study. He received a doctor of philosophy degree in engineering in December 1970 and subsequently was assigned to the Air Force Institute of Technology as an assistant professor of electrical engineering.
Upon completion of the Armed Forces Staff College in January 1973, General Rankine was assigned to the Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff, Studies and Analyses, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. While there he conducted several studies of fighter weapons, aircraft and force structure, and was chief of the Fighter Division at the time of his selection to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in August 1977.
He returned to Air Force headquarters in June 1978 as executive assistant to the assistant secretary of defense for communications, command, control and intelligence. During that tour of duty, General Rankine accompanied the assistant secretary on an official visit to the People's Republic of China as part of the administration's attempt to improve Sino-U.S. relations. The general transferred to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in September 1980 as director of the Avionics Laboratory. In June 1981 he became commander of the Air Force Wright Aeronautical Laboratories at Wright-Patterson.
In August 1982 General Rankine became deputy director for space systems and command, control and communications in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Acquisition at Air Force headquarters. In October 1983 he was assigned to the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Research and Engineering as the assistant for directed energy weapons, and had responsibility for the initial planning of the president's Strategic Defense Initiative. He later assisted in the formation of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization by serving as its first deputy director, beginning in April 1984.
In September 1984 the general was assigned in the dual capacity of special assistant for the Strategic Defense Initiative to the deputy chief of staff for research, development and acquisition at Air Force headquarters and to the vice commander, Air Force Systems Command, Andrews Air Force Base. There he developed the Air Force's policies and procedures for executing the Strategic Defense Initiative program. While at Air Force headquarters he was responsible for the Air Force's science and technology programs, including the initiation of the national aerospace plane program. In June 1986 he became director of space systems and command, control and communications, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Research, Development and Acquisition, Air Force headquarters. He served in this position until March 1987, when a reorganization of the headquarters resulted in a merger of most of the responsibilities of his two prior positions into a single new position in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition): director of space and Strategic Defense Initiative programs, military deputy for acquisition.
General Rankine again simultaneously held the position of special assistant for Strategic Defense Initiative to the vice commander, Air Force Systems Command. In November 1987 he became vice commander, Space Systems Division, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. He assumed his present position in April 1990.
The general is a registered professional engineer in Ohio. His military awards and decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal and Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters. He also wears the Master Space Badge.
He was promoted to major general May 1, 1987, with same date of rank.