Introducing COMBAT AXE: the newest BMC2-focused Weapons System Evaluation Program

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin
  • 53rd Wing
In an effort to align with the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr.’s Accelerate Change or Lose strategic approach, the 53rd Wing has developed a new branch of the Weapons System Evaluation Program focusing solely on Battle Management Command and Control. The new WSEP branch is known as COMBAT AXE. 
The primary objective of the program is to present high-end scenarios and collect and analyze data in order to arm Senior Leaders, Combatant Commanders, and operators with an enhanced understanding of the performance of the Air Force’s C2 weapon systems against maturing threats. The COMBAT AXE program excels at this objective while simultaneously providing advanced training experiences for combat-ready operators.
Originally dubbed COMBAT SENTRY during the initial evolution from vision to reality, the program has since been rebranded COMBAT AXE to align with the Air Force’s evolution of the Theater Air Control System (TACS) to the emerging Air Component Control System (ACCS) concept that will provide light, agile, distributed tactical command and control capabilities.  
“In order to be successful, we realized we had to field the program in a cost-effective manner. So, we got innovative and took advantage of the 53rd Wing’s specialized resources,” said Lt. Col. Steve Wyatt, 81st Air Control Squadron commander. “These resources included access to the many test and training events held in the Gulf Range, access to 53rd Wing aerial targets, and the acquisition of Squadron Innovation Funds coupled with a partnership with the 53rd Test Support Squadron to build high-end threat simulators that can target C2 systems.”
Recently, the 81st ACS conducted COMBAT AXE during the combined COMBAT ARCHER 22.08 and CHECKERED FLAG 22-2 exercises.  This was one of the largest combined air-to-air test, evaluation, and training exercises to take place in the United States.  The May 2022 event was hosted at Tyndall AFB, Fla., where squadrons from the United States Air Force, United States Navy, and Royal Australian Air Force conducted both large force employment scenarios and air-to-air live-fire weapons employment.
During the event, the 81st ACS, E-2C, E-3G and E-7A crews integrated C2 tactics in an environment that replicated operationally relevant challenges the weapon systems would face. This involved the incorporation of various unique sensors from each weapon system and the integration of data links and communication tactics to create a common operational picture across the C2 architecture. Ultimately this enabled C2 crews to identify threats with increased speed, precision, and confidence and share these threats with participating fighter aircraft.
“Not only is this type of joint training critical to countering strategic competitors, it also provides us the opportunity to collect data to help understand how to modernize our weapon systems, tactics, and training” said Wyatt. “In order to fight as a Joint and Coalition forces, we need to understand each other's capabilities and limitations, and how each entity operates and communicates.”
COMBAT AXE is one of six major elements of the USAF’s Combat Weapons System Evaluation Program. WSEP is charged with evaluating full-spectrum combat capability to ensure air superiority versus the near-peer adversary.
 For more information, contact 1st Lt Lindsey Heflin, Public Affairs Advisor for the 53rd Wing at 850-598-3283 or
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.