The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group is an Air Combat Command tenant organization that reports to the 53rd Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The WEG is comprised of five squadrons and two detachments: 53rd Test Support Squadron, 81st Range Control Squadron, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, and 83rd 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, 53 WEG 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. It also supports Weapons Instructor Course air-to-air formal training syllabi under COMACC Plan 92. Unit personnel provide all USAF aerial target support for DoD users in the gulf ranges and full-scale targets for Title 10 testing on White Sands Missile Range near Holloman.
The group also plans, manages and executes the U.S. Air Force Air-to-Air Weapons Meet, William Tell. For additional information, contact 53rd Wing Public Affairs at (850) 882-2257.
53rd Test Support Squadron
The 53rd Test Support Squadron is responsible for technical and staff functions in support of Air Force's air-to-air/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 53rd 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. It is also the primary manager for the U.S. Air Force Air-to-Air Weapons Meet, William Tell.
81st Range Control Squadron
The 81 RCS serves as ACC’s only battle management command and control (BMC2) squadron that is tasked to conduct live-fire operational testing and evaluation of air-to-air weapons systems against a myriad of full-scale and sub-scale threat-representative targets. In addition, the 81 RCS delivers BMC2 and flight safety to over 1,500 WSEP sorties and 350 live-missile firings; ensuring management and sequencing of all WSEP aerial targets, as well as surveillance and deconfliction of air operations from civil aviation and maritime activities in the Gulf Coast Ranges while coordinating with all DoD branches, partner Nation Air Forces, and other Department of Defense weapons tests. Finally, the 81 RCS provides BMC2 integration, adversary control, and realistic threat replication to large force exercises conducted in the Gulf Complexes for over 3,000 F-22/F-35/F-15/T-38/KC-135 combat training sorties conducted by Tyndall, Eglin, and FL ANG units in the gulf coast airspaces.
82nd Aerial Targets Squadron
The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron 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. It also provides BQM-167 subscale aerial targets to gulf range customers at Tyndall AFB. Full and subscale aerial targets are provided to Air Force, Navy and Army customers for developmental and operational tests. The 82nd provides target support for the Air Force Weapon System Evaluation Program, the Air Force Weapons Instructor Course, and Combat Archer. 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 Gulf Range and also support over-land telemetry missions for WSEP at Holloman AFB and the UTTR near Hill AFB, Utah. The squadron is a mix of highly experienced contract personnel and active-duty Air Force 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 also supports Army surface-to-air programs and foreign military customers as well.
83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron
The 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron conducts the USAF Combat Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) West. 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 38 WSEP deployments annually at Tyndall. The annual firing of over 300 missiles evaluates all USAF air-to-air missile capabilities (AIM-120, AIM-7, AIM-9 and gun) and also provides live missile training for CAF crews as a 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, William Tell and WIC missile firing programs.
86th Fighter Weapons Squadron
The 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron (Hill AFB, UT), Combat Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) West, is the cornerstone of land air dominance. The squadron manages Air-to-Ground and Air-to-Air Weapons System Evaluations, COMBAT HAMMER and COMBAT ARCHER, together known as Combat WSEP West. The 86th is the single DOD agency charged with conducting predictive battle damage analysis of precision guided air-to-ground munitions (PGMs) using operational weapons, aircraft, maintenance personnel and aircrew. The 86th also evaluates total air-to-air 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.