53rd Wing’s WSEP sets the stage for F-15EX shot, Agile Combat Employment, and AFSOC integration

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin
  • 53rd Wing
The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group recently hosted the Weapons System Evaluation Program-East at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida January 24-28, 2022. The exercise included the 40th Flight Test Squadron’s historic first-time F-15EX Eagle II missile shot, as well as testing and evaluating maintainers and aircrew members of the 77th and 100th Fighter Squadrons on the reliability and maintainability of their F-16 Fighting Falcon weapons systems.
As the first Air Force aircraft entirely tested and fielded through combined developmental and operational test, the F-15EX’s successful AIM-120D missile shot and WSEP participation is one of many events projected to take place in the coming year. F-15EX operational flight program development efforts will include more missile and munition tests and participation in future operational test exercises.
“Our ability to align with WSEP for our very first missile shot off the platform speaks volumes for the integrated nature of our 53rd Wing test team,” said Colton Myers, F-15EX test project manager, Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force. “This milestone is a testament of the proficiency and expertise of the teams at Tyndall who were critical to making this shot happen.”
During WSEP 22.04, five F-16 “Red Tails” from the 100th Fighter Squadron executed Agile Combat Employment by flying from their home base at Dannelly Field, Alabama to Tyndall AFB, Florida where they re-fueled and loaded five AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles simulating rapid combat reloads.
“Complete confidence and understanding of employment can only come from launching weapons in complex tactical scenarios,” said Capt. Andrew Hall, 187th Fighter Wing WSEP project officer. “WSEP not only provides that opportunity for first-time shooters, but it also trains and equips our maintainers.”
Also incorporating ACE, the 77th FS “Gamblers” completed Combat Archer and then integrated with the 6th Special Operations Squadron, Duke Field, Florida prior to returning to Shaw AFB, South Carolina. The 6th SOS are known for their Combat Aviation Advisors, who are responsible for integrating with surface SOF advisors to conduct special operations activities by, with, and through foreign aviation forces. 
The 6th SOS participants, who had never previously worked with fixed-wing ACC fighters on the ACE construct, integrated with the 77th FS to show how special operation forces can fit in with the Combat Air Force to exercise complex mission sets.
“We are going to take the lessons learned from the 6th SOS and enact those in our future ACE planning and phasing to ensure we are prepared and ready for future taskings,” said Capt. Tyler Olson, detachment commander, 77th FS. “Our goal is to improve our localized training and capabilities required for this movement, not only as a fighter squadron, but working with other units along the East Coast who are preparing to deploy downrange with ACE at the forefront of the mission.”
The Air Force introduced ACE as a proactive and reactive operational scheme of maneuver designed to address the challenges of projecting combat power across the globe with a significantly reduced global footprint, increased risk from adversarial technological advances, and fiscal and political constraints.
 For more information, contact 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin, Public Affairs Advisor for the 53rd Wing at 850-598-3283 or lindsey.heflin.1@us.af.mil.
The 53rd Wing provides tactical advantage to the warfighter at the speed of relevance. By testing new operational capabilities and evaluating fielded capabilities, the 53rd Wing is bringing the future faster while answering the warfighter’s demands for integrated, multi-domain capabilities.