B-52 Operational Test and Weapons School form “Super Squadron”

  • Published
  • By Capt Lindsey Heflin
  • 53rd Wing
In an effort to expand operational test and accelerate capability to the warfighter, the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron and 340th Weapons Squadron have come together to form an integrated team focused on testing and developing tactics for un-fielded B-52 Stratofortress systems.
This program provides a robust look at systems under test while giving the community’s sharpest tacticians attached to the U.S. Air Force Weapons School a first look at the new systems before they are released to the warfighter.
“There cannot be a gradual building block approach to employing the B-52 as it modernizes,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Spinelli, 49th TES commander. “The B-52 is the foundational part of strategic deterrence; we need to start at a full sprint to keep pace in the ever-changing geostrategic environment. The synergies gained by this WPS and OT endeavor will help ensure we do just that.”
Recently, the integrated squadron participated in Northern Edge 23, where they gained valuable insights into B-52 datalink modifications with Agile Pod and Link-16, which allowed the team to provide inputs into mission planning and tactical execution. Following the exercise, 340th WPS Instructors took the data and created familiarization academics for new Link-16 hardware that has since been implemented into current courseware for weapons school classes.
“By developing TTPs now for software and hardware currently undergoing OT, we enable our students to anticipate change and adapt training plans to build baseline knowledge. This shallows the learning curve in squadrons when these systems become operational,” said Capt. Matthew Bowyer, 340th Weapons Squadron instructor.
The B-52 is programmed for an unprecedented amount of upgrades and improvements never before seen in its sixty plus years of service. Added capabilities and mission refocus will require not only training, but cultural change in the roles and responsibilities of B-52 aircrew to support these momentous modernization efforts. This shift in focus starts with the Tier 1 weapons officers being trained at the USAF Weapons School today, who will carry that change to their follow-on squadrons and mold the next generation of B-52 aircrew.
“As we continue to find ways to accelerate change, this type of integration is critical to keeping the leading edge sharp and the warfighter prepared to fight tonight,” said Lt. Col. Mehul Brahmbhatt, 340th Weapons Squadron commander.
For more information, contact Capt. Lindsey Heflin, Public Affairs Advisor for the 53rd Wing at 850-598-3283 or lindsey.heflin.1@us.af.mil.
The 53d Wing provides tactical advantage to the warfighter at the speed of relevance.