53d Weapons Evaluation Group:
The 53d Weapons Evaluation Group (53 WEG) is an Air Combat Command tenant organization that reports to the 53d Wing located at Eglin Air Force Base, FL. The 53 WEG is comprised of five squadrons and two detachments at four geographically-separated locations: the 53d Test Support Squadron (53 TSS), 81st Air Control Squadron (81 ACS), 82d Aerial Targets Squadron (82 ATRS), and 83d Fighter Weapons Squadron (83 FWS) are all located at Tyndall Air Force Base, FL; the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron (86 FWS) is located at Hill Air Force Base, UT; Detachment 1, 82 ATRS is located at Holloman Air Force Base, NM; Detachment 1, 86 FWS is located at Eglin Air Force Base, FL. The 53 WEG conducts the Air Force air-to-air and air-to-ground Weapons System Evaluation Programs, known as WSEP East (Tyndall AFB) and WSEP West (Hill AFB), under Combat Air Forces (CAF) Plan 53. The 53 WEG supports Nuclear WSEP under COMACC Plan 001 and AFGSC/CC Plan 001. It also supports Weapons Instructor Course (WIC) air-to-air formal training syllabi under COMACC Plan 92. Unit personnel provide all USAF aerial target support for Department of Defense (DoD) and international partners in the Eglin-Gulf ranges, full-scale targets for Title 10 testing on White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) near Holloman Air Force Base, and utilizes the Utah Test and Training Range (UTTR) for air-to-ground evaluations. Annually, WSEP reports and identifies weapons system performance and deficiencies, including recommendations for corrective action directly to the United States Air Force Warfare Center, Air Combat Command, and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
For additional information, contact 53d Wing Public Affairs at (850) 882-0423.
53d Test Support Squadron:
The 53d Test Support Squadron is responsible for technical and staff functions for the 53 WEG. The squadron's primary mission is to support the Air Force's air-to-air and air-to-ground operational weapons test programs to include the Weapons System Evaluation Program and other DoD operational and developmental tests. The squadron enables over 20 aerial target configurations by providing various electronic attack pods and expendable countermeasures. These target configurations are designed to test current and emerging weapons systems for all DoD agencies. They also provide technical, engineering, acquisition, logistics, and strategic planning support for all units in the 53 WEG, including program management of all Gulf Range air-to-air systems, range control systems, aerial targets (both full-scale and subscale) systems, data analysis telemetry, and communications systems. Lastly, the squadron supports 53 WEG flight operations by providing scheduling coordination with all users of the Gulf Range complex.
81st Air Control Squadron:
The 81st Air Control Squadron, “WETSTONE Control,” is the USAF Warfare Center’s only assigned air control squadron. The 81 ACS is tasked to provide battle management command & control (BMC2) to test, evaluation, and training operations in the Gulf of Mexico region to include COMBAT ARCHER, COMBAT HAMMER, and to execute a BMC2 evaluation program—COMBAT SENTRY. The 81 ACS is the DoD’s only active-duty squadron authorized to provide BMC2 to live-fire air-to-air weapons tests and evaluations. Annually, the squadron provides BMC2 to over 350 live air-to-air missile firings. Furthermore, as Air Combat Command’s only ACS in the Gulf of Mexico region, the 81 ACS provides BMC2 to a diverse range of mission sets. Each year, the 81 ACS integrates with over 4400 sorties to include fighter and C2 operational test and evaluation (OT&E) missions, 325th Fighter Wing, 33d Fighter Wing, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi Air National Guard combat training missions, the AC-130/MC-130 Weapons School, and large force exercises including CHECKERED FLAG, SKULL WARS, AFNORTH QUICKDRAW, and SENTRY SAVANNAH. Finally, the 81 ACS provides unique, threat-representative airborne adversary control for fifth-generation fighter training and large force exercises.
82d Aerial Targets Squadron:
The 82d Aerial Targets Squadron at Tyndall AFB and Holloman AFB (Detachment 1) operates the DoD's only full-scale aerial target program, maintaining an inventory of 50 modified QF-16 “Fighting Falcon” aircraft for this purpose. The squadron provides BQM-167 subscale aerial targets to customers operating in the Gulf Range complex and the UTTR. Full and subscale aerial targets are provided to Air Force, Navy, Army, and foreign customers for developmental and operational tests, and select foreign customers for developmental tests, operational tests, and weapons evaluation. The squadron maintains three 120-foot drone recovery vessels and four smaller patrol boats to recover targets, support range safety, and salvage operations. In addition to QF-16s, squadron aircrew also operates the Air Force's only E-9A “Widget” fleet. These aircraft provide sea surveillance, relay missile-target telemetry for over-the-horizon coverage of the Gulf Range, and deliver over-land telemetry support for WSEP on the WSMR near Holloman AFB, NM and the UTTR near Hill AFB, UT. The squadron is a mix of highly experienced civilian, contractor, and active-duty Air Force personnel. Detachment 1, 82 ATRS, Holloman AFB, NM, operates and maintains a portion of the QF-16 full-scale aerial target fleet for use at WSMR.
83d Fighter Weapons Squadron:
The 83d Fighter Weapons Squadron is the DoD's cornerstone of Air Dominance. They conduct the USAF Combat Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) East. The squadron evaluates the total air-to-air (COMBAT ARCHER) and air-to-ground (COMBAT HAMMER) 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 AFB, FL. During these deployments, squadron subject matter experts evaluate more than 300 missiles, (AIM-120, AIM-7, AIM-9, and gunnery), from upload to release. Additionally, they provide 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. They provide liaison support for pre-deployment, employment, and redeployment of ACC, USAFE, PACAF, ANG, USAFRC, and allied air forces. The squadron conducts investigative firings to address CAF employment issues and support ongoing OT&E efforts. The 83 FWS co-sponsors the biannual large force exercise CHECKERED FLAG, and supports multiple United States Navy Carrier Air Groups in deployment preparation, live-fire assessments, and TOP GUN program modernization.
86th Fighter Weapons Squadron:
The 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron is the cornerstone of land air dominance. They conduct the USAF Combat Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) West. The squadron manages air-to-ground (COMBAT HAMMER) and air-to-air (COMBAT ARCHER) weapons system evaluations. The 86 FWS is the single DoD agency charged with conducting predictive battle damage analysis of precision guided air-to-ground munitions (PGM) using operational weapons, aircraft, maintenance personnel, and aircrew. The 86 FWS 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 from 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. 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 USAFRC 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.