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53rd Wing

The 53rd Wing, headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., serves as the focal point for the Combat Air Forces in electronic warfare, armament and avionics, chemical defense, reconnaissance and aircrew training devices. The wing is responsible for operational testing and evaluation of new equipment and systems proposed for use by these forces. Current wing initiatives include advanced self-protection systems for combat aircraft, aircrew life support systems, aerial reconnaissance improvements, new armament and weapons delivery systems, and improved maintenance equipment and logistics support.
 
The 53rd Wing is comprised of four groups, numbers more than 2,800 military and civilians at 23 various locations throughout the U.S. The wing reports to the United States Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis AFB, Nev., a direct reporting unit to Headquarters Air Combat Command.

53rd TEST AND EVALUATION GROUP

The 53d Test and Evaluation Group (TEG) is responsible for delivering safe and effective capabilities and tactics that enhance the Combat Air Force's (CAF) lethality and survivability.  The group manages and executes ACC's operational test & evaluation (OT&E) and tactics development for A-10, F-15C/E/EX, F-16, F-22, F-35, MQ-9, HH-60G/W, HC-130J, and Guardian Angel weapons systems. Additionally, the group supports foreign military exploitation and advanced technology demonstrations, as well as manages the evaluation of all air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, mission planning systems, aircrew flight equipment, and agile combat support systems.

The 53d TEG is composed of highly trained aircrew and a diverse range of support personnel based at Nellis, Creech, Davis Monthan and Eglin Air Force Bases.  Key partners include numerous test units across Air Force Materiel Command, as well as Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Command. 

The 53d TEG prides itself on its role in providing Airmen and Combatant Commands with the latest in software, hardware, weapons and tactics techniques and procedures to win America's wars.

The 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron is responsible to ACC for the planning, execution and reporting of Operational Tests across the spectrum of airpower to include air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons, mission planning systems, aircrew flight equipment, and agile combat support systems to include chemical and biological defense. In addition, the squadron evaluates the operational effectiveness and suitability of systems through engineering and analytical methods. Finally, the squadron develops tactics for weapons and supports systems in operationally representative environments.

The 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin AFB, Florida, is responsible for conducting operational test and evaluation, tactics development, and programs for F-15C, F-15E, and F-16CM aircraft. Utilizing specially instrumented aircraft, the 85th tests and evaluates current and future weapons, associated electronic warfare subsystems, the newest air-to ground munitions, air-to-air missiles, electronic warfare systems, and associated subcomponents and avionics. It provides operational fighter expertise to U.S. Air Force Headquarters, DoD agencies, and the aerospace industry in the development of future aircraft and employment techniques and concepts. The 85th's core competencies are air-to-air missile employment and tactics, suppression and destruction of enemy air defenses and lethal precision engagement.

The 88th Test and Evaluation Squadron, part of the Combat Search and Rescue Combined Test Force, is located at Nellis AFB, Nevada. It is one of only two integrated test units in the 53 WG. The CSAR CTF integrates Developmental Test and Operational Test units into a Combined Test Force comprised of personnel and resources from both AFMC and ACC. A benchmark in testing efforts, the CSAR CTF strives to shorten the acquisition process by integrating both DT and OT aircrew into as many tests as possible which allows for continuity and faster return time on test articles and TTPs. The CSAR CTF is currently the Responsible Test Organization for the HH-60G, HH-60W, HC-130J aircraft and the Guardian Angel Weapons System.

The 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nevada, is a composite squadron that executes HQ ACC-directed operational test and evaluation for A-10C, F-15C, F-15E, F-16CM, F-22A, and F-35A hardware, software, and weapons upgrades prior to CAF release. The squadron conducts tactics development, foreign materiel exploitation, and special access programs to optimize system combat capability. The squadron also conducts field visits to instruct operational aircrews on new systems and tactics.

The 556th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Creech AFB, Nevada, executes MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) OT&E and tactics development supporting ACC and AFSOC objectives. The 556 TES provides operational expertise for the test and evaluation of new sensors, hardware, weapons, and software upgrades for both airframes as well as critical RPA integration expertise in the intelligence community's processing, exploitation, and dissemination of data. Emerging technologies are rapidly evaluated and fielded to combatant commanders through capability-based testing to ensure success in RPA's expanding array of missions. Additionally, the 556 TES ensures operationally representative testing through inter-fly arrangements with combat RPA squadrons, takes part in early integration with AFMC developmental testing, and supports the Weapons School RPA squadron in the execution of its syllabus. Finally, the 556 TES is charged with anticipating future changes in warfare and credibly advocating where RPAs and their aircrew can continue to deliver decisive effects.

Detachment 2 of the 53rd TEG at Beale AFB, California, is a selectively manned unit responsible for managing and executing Operational Test & Evaluation and Tactics Development & Evaluation for the U-2 and RQ-4 High Altitude Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance weapon systems. It provides operational, maintenance, and technical expertise to USAF, DoD, and industry in the development of weapon system concepts, sustainment, and employment techniques. Det 2 works alongside AFMC and AFOTEC personnel to develop and tests new tactics, techniques and procedures for the 9th and 319th Reconnaissance Wings.  Results and conclusions support DoD deployment and employment decisions. Detachment 3 of the 53rd TEG at Nellis AFB, Nevada, is a representative for Air Combat Command's interest in USAF Foreign Materiel Exploitation. Detachment 3's primary mission is to ensure USAF combat aircrew personnel are prepared to fight with the latest knowledge available through FME.

The 53rd TEG also has an F-16 liaison office at the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Test Center which is a tenant unit of the 162nd Fighter Wing, Tucson, Arizona. It is one of three principal ACC organizations responsible for planning, coordinating and accomplishing OT&E and TD&E. AATC's mission is operational testing of Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve unique systems, subsystems, modifications, tactics, techniques and procedures as well as other systems for which AATC has been designated as the lead test center. The goal of AATC is to improve the combat capability of the "mature" weapons systems flown by the Guard and Reserve through the use of low cost, off-the-shelf technologies which can be fielded in a timely manner. In the past, AATC initiatives include the Situation Awareness Data Link, night vision compatible aircraft lighting components, and the Electronic Warfare Management System. Current initiatives include Center Display Unit for F-16 and Helmet Mounted Integrated Targeting systems for A-10 and F-16.

The 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron, located at Nellis AFB, Nev., is responsible for the management of A-10, F-15C/E, F-16, F-22, HH-60, and Guardian Angel weapon system testing including force development evaluations, tactics development and evaluations, and software evaluations. Squadron personnel direct operational test planning and execution, as well as data gathering, analyzing, and reporting for the above systems operated by the CAF. Additionally, the squadron manages OT&E of weapons and support systems in order to improve current and future U.S. Air Force combat capabilities.

The F-15 & F-16 Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force (OFP CTF) at Eglin AFB is composed of active/reserve military, civilian, and contractor personnel from the 53rd Test & Evaluation Group and the 96th Operations Group.  OFP CTF personnel test F-15 & F-16 software upgrades to enhance air-to-air and air-to-ground combat performance, improve weapons-avionics integration, and simplify aircrew displays and controls.  The OFP CTF team develops test concepts, prepares test plans, manages test execution, analyzes data, and produces test briefings, reports, and recommendations on F-15 & F-16 developmental and operational tests.  The OFP CTF reports to its AFMC chain of command for developmental test issues and its ACC chain of command for operational test issues.  The OFP CTF has a combined annual test budget in excess of $60.1 million and evaluates multi-year acquisition programs valued at more than $25 billion.

53RD TEST MANAGEMENT GROUP

The 53d TMG, headquartered at Eglin AFB, FL, is comprised of six squadrons: 17th Test Squadron headquartered at Shriever AFB, CO; 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Eglin AFB; 29th Training Systems Squadron at Eglin AFB; 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Barksdale AFB, LA; 72d Test and Evaluation Squadron at Whiteman AFB, MO; and 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Dyess AFB, TX. The 53d TMG is responsible for operational test program management and execution, culminating in release and fielding recommendations; simulator certifications; tactics, techniques, and procedures; and advanced program network support; for Air Combat Command, Air Force Global Strike Command, the United States Space Force, and worldwide Combatant Commanders. The group’s test portfolio includes USAF fighters, bombers, combat search and rescue platforms, remotely piloted vehicles, aircrew training devices, space systems, and munitions.

The 17th Test Squadron is responsible for conducting Operational Test & Evaluation on space-focused assets. The squadron validates warfighting capabilities and ensures an independent assessment of space systems' performance. In addition, the 17 TS conducts integrated test planning, execution, and reporting on 34 major weapon systems worth over $21B as well as managing, executing, and reporting on the Weapon System Evaluation Program, COMBAT MACE. Finally, the 17 TS efficiently executes over 39 test activities on a $7M annual budget to support the USSF's & Combatant Commanders' operational acceptance, fielding & critical employment decisions.

The 29th Training Systems Squadron is the Combat Air Force's (CAF) sole test and evaluation organization for Aircrew Training Devices (ATD). The unit provides functional management and technical expertise for ATD acquisition, modification, sustainment and testing to include assessment of Synthetic Training (ST) enterprise capabilities. Additionally, the 29th TSS is responsible for the worldwide simulator certifications (SIMCERT) for 250 ATDs in ACC, AETC, AFGSC, PACAF, USAFE, AFRC and ANG.

The 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron manages and executes ACC-directed Operational Test and Evaluation and Tactics Development and Evaluation for B-52H hardware, software and weapons upgrades to maximize combat readiness prior to release to operational units. Additionally, the unit is the lead reporting agency for Combat SLEDGEHAMMER, the USAF Nuclear Weapons System Evaluation Program. The 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron directly evaluates the B-52H, the Air Launched Cruise Missile, and the nuclear mission for United States Strategic Command.

The 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron, located at Edwards AFB, California, evaluates the operational effectiveness and suitability of advanced ACC weapon systems by providing operations, maintenance, and engineering experts that work alongside AFMC and Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center personnel. Additionally, the squadron provides early war-fighter insight and influence during developmental testing. The 31 TES is currently involved in in operational test and evaluation of the B-21, B-2, B-52, RQ-4 Global Hawk, and DCGS. Squadron personnel integrate live test results with modeling and simulation data to predict combat capabilities under realistic scenarios thereby setting the stage for tactical development in the Combat Air Forces. Results and conclusions support DoD acquisition, deployment, and employment decisions.

The 72d Test and Evaluation Squadron manages, executes, and assesses HQ ACC-directed Tactics Development and Evaluation, Operational Test and Evaluation, and survivability assessment programs for B-2 hardware, software and weapons. The unit also executes B-2 Nuclear Weapon System Evaluation Program (NucWSEP), validating strategic national capabilities. Provide tactical expertise to HQ USAF, DoD agencies and industries through the development of B-2 weapon employment.

The 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron manages, executes, and reports on HQ ACC-directed Operational Test & Evaluation and Tactics Development & Evaluation for B-1 hardware, software and weapons upgrades to maximize combat capabilities prior to fielding to operational units. Additionally, the unit provides tactical and technical expertise to DoD, USAF, ACC, systems group, agencies and industry in the development of B-1 weapon system concepts and employment techniques.

53RD wEAPONS eVALUATION gROUP

The 53d Weapons Evaluation Group (53d WEG) is an Air Combat Command tenant organization that reports to the 53d Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, FL. The WEG is comprised of five squadrons and two detachments: 53d Test Support Squadron, 81st Air Control Squadron, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, and 83d Fighter Weapons Squadron, all located at Tyndall; 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron, located at Hill AFB, UT; Det. 1, 82 ATRS, located at Holloman AFB, NM; and Det. 1, 86 FWS located at Eglin. The group conducts the Air Force air-to-air and air-to-ground Weapon System Evaluation Programs, known as WSEP East (Tyndall AFB) and WSEP West (Hill AFB), under CAF Plan 53.  The 53d WEG supports Nuclear WSEP under COMACC Plan 001 and AFGSC/CC Plan 001.  It also supports Weapons Instructor Course (WIC) air-to-air formal training syllabi under COMACC Plan 92. Unit personnel provide all USAF aerial target support for DoD and international partners in the Eglin-Gulf ranges and full-scale targets for Title 10 testing on White Sands Missile Range near Holloman.  


The 53d Test Support Squadron (53d TSS) is responsible for technical and staff functions in support of Air Force's air-to-air and air-to-ground operational test programs to include the Weapon System Evaluation Program and other DOD weapons tests.  They also provide technical, engineering, acquisition, logistics, data automation/local area network, system configuration control and strategic planning support for the 53d WEG, including program management of all Gulf Range air-to-air systems, range control systems, aerial targets (full-scale/subscale) systems and payloads, missile scoring and data analysis telemetry, and communications systems.

  
The 81st Air Control Squadron (ACS), “WETSTONE Control,” is the USAF Warfare Center’s only assigned Air Control Squadron.  The 81 ACS is tasked to provide battle management command & control (BMC2) to test, evaluation, and training operations in the Gulf of Mexico region, and is the Department of Defense’s only active-duty squadron authorized to provide BMC2 to live-fire testing and evaluation of air-to-air weapons systems.  Annually, the 81 ACS integrates BMC2 capabilities with over 1500 Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) sorties and over 350 live air-to-air missile firings.  Additionally, as Air Combat Command’s only ACS in the Gulf of Mexico region, the 81 ACS provides BMC2 to a myriad of diverse mission sets.  Annually, the 81 ACS integrates with over 4400 test and training sorties to include: fighter and C2 aircraft operational test and evaluation (OT&E) missions, 325 Fighter Wing, 33 Fighter Wing, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi Air National Guard combat training sorties, the MC-130/AC-130 Weapons School, and large force exercises such as, CHECKERED FLAG, SKULL WARS, QUICKDRAW, and SENTRY SAVANNAH.  Finally, the 81 ACS provides unique threat-representative adversary control for T-38 and Contract Red-Air sorties flying as adversaries to Fifth-Generation fighter training, and large force exercises.   

The 82d Aerial Targets Squadron (82d ATRS) at Tyndall and Holloman AFB (Detachment 1) operates the Department of Defense's only full-scale aerial target program, maintaining an inventory of 24 modified QF-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft for this purpose.  The 82d provides target support for the Air Force Weapon System Evaluation Program (WSEP), the Air Force Weapons Instructor Course (WIC), and to Air Force, Navy and Army customers for developmental and operational tests. The squadron also maintains three 120-foot drone recovery vessels and two smaller patrol vessels to recover aerial and support range safety and salvage operations. Squadron aircrew also operate the Air Force's only two DeHavilland E-9A "Widget" airborne surveillance/telemetry relay aircraft. These aircraft provide ocean surface surveillance and relay missile and target telemetry for over-the-horizon coverage of the Eglin / Gulf Ranges. The squadron is a mix of highly experienced active-duty and civilian Air Force and contract personnel. Detachment 1, 82 ATRS, Holloman AFB, New Mexico, operates and maintains a portion of the QF-16 full-scale aerial target fleet for use on the White Sands Missile Range. In addition to Air Force programs such as the F-22, AMRAAM, AIM-9X, and F-35 the detachment supports US Army, Navy and foreign military surface-to-air programs.


The 83d Fighter Weapons Squadron conducts the USAF Combat Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) East. The squadron evaluates the total air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons system including aircraft, weapon delivery system, weapon, aircrew, support equipment, technical data and maintenance actions. The squadron hosts nearly 40 WSEP deployments annually at Tyndall. The annual events serve to evaluate all USAF air-to-air weapons (AIM-120, AIM-9 and guns) and also provides live missile training for CAF crews as an important secondary objective. Squadron personnel verify weapon system performance, determine reliability, evaluate capability and limitations, identify deficiencies, recommend corrective action, and maintain CAF-wide data. The squadron investigates missile envelopes and evaluates capabilities and limitations to determine future firing requirements. It provides liaison support for pre-deployment, employment and redeployment of ACC, USAFE, PACAF, ANG, USAFR, and foreign air forces participating in WSEP and WIC missile firing programs. 

The 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron (Hill AFB, UT) conducts the USAF Combat Weapons Systems Evaluation Program (WSEP) West.  The 86th evaluates total air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons systems including aircraft, weapon delivery system, weapon, aircrew, support equipment, technical data, and maintenance actions.  The squadron hosts an average of 25 evaluations annually, primarily out of Hill AFB, UT, and evaluates the reliability, maintainability, suitability, and accuracy of operationally fielded precision-guided and high-technology weapons against realistic targets protected by realistic enemy defenses.  WSEP West identifies weapons system and training deficiencies and provides recommendations for corrective action directly to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.  Additionally, the squadron maintains the DOD’s comprehensive database on PGM performance and investigates capabilities and limitations of currently fielded PGMs.  Weapons assessed include: GBU-10, -12, -24, -27, -28, -31, -32, -38, -39, -49, and -54; CBU-103 and -105; EGBU-15; and AGM-130, -65, -86, -88, -114, -154 and -158.  Combat WSEP West provides liaison support for pre-deployment, employment, and re-deployment of ACC, USAFE, PACAF, ANG, and AFRES forces participating in the exercise and conducts investigative firings of air-to-ground PGMs to address CAF employment issues and support ongoing OT&E efforts.