ACC leaders visit command’s only operational test and evaluation wing

  • Published
  • By Capt. Lindsey Brewer
  • 53rd Wing
Air Combat Command leaders witnessed how the 53rd Wing is delivering tactical advantage to the warfighter in an era of strategic competition during a recent visit to Eglin Air Force Base.

As Air Combat Command’s only operational test and evaluation wing, the 53rd Wing is responsible for ensuring current and future aircraft, weapons, tactics, techniques and procedures are combat ready for any conflict that may arise.

Having previously served as the 53rd Wing commander, Gen. Ken Wilsbach, commander of ACC, understands the importance of the operational test mission in relation to Great Power Competition. 

“We need to create dilemmas for China and other near-peer competitors,” said Wilsbach. “That means we have to test like we will have to fight and be prepared to deliver lethality if deterrence fails.”

The 53rd Wing is actively maneuvering test plans, objectives and efforts to meet the baseline threat and demands of the warfighter. This means testing new technology faster and smarter in operationally relevant scenarios while integrating across multiple platforms and domains.

Chief Master Sgt. David Wolfe, command chief of ACC, experienced the 53rd’s commitment to developing new tactics for the warfighter first-hand during an F-15EX Eagle II familiarization flight with the 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron. Wolfe took part in a squadron-level large force exercise known as “Skull Wars,” with focused objectives to meet operational test and tactics development requirements.  

“It’s amazing to witness the ways the 53rd Wing is getting after important test objectives and developing long-range kill chain solutions,” said Wolfe. “The 53rd has showcased their ability to be proactive and innovative, which is a mindset we all need to embrace in today’s rapidly changing operational environment.”

Outside of local test events, the 53rd Wing participates in premier joint exercises such as Bamboo Eagle, Northern Edge, Gray Flag and Black Flag. During the visit, ACC leaders received a briefing on the wing’s newest exercise development—a first-time Virtual Black Flag Large Force Test Event set to take place this summer. Virtual Black Flag will include Navy, Army and Space capabilities, allowing units to complete test objectives that cannot be accomplished via live fly.

“The 53rd has changed significantly from when I served as the commander, but that’s how it’s supposed to be,” said Wilsbach. “Continual change is required to meet the needs of the warfighter, and it’s clear that the 53rd has embraced that mentality.”
For more information, contact 53rd Wing Public Affairs 850-598-3283.    

The 53d Wing provides tactical advantage to the warfighter at the speed of relevance.