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53rd Weapons Evaluation Group: A proud member of Team Tyndall

  • Published
  • By Col. James R. Vogel
  • 53 Weapons Evaluation Group commander
The 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group is gearing up for execution of Air Combat Command's 2013 Weapon System Evaluation Program and continued aerial target support for all of the Defense Department. The Air-to-Air Missile evaluation portion of WSEP, known as COMBAT ARCHER, will kick off the last week of January with over 30 additional U.S. Air Force fighters on the Tyndall flight line. With four of the five WEG squadrons and the group front office resident at Tyndall, we could not execute our mission without the outstanding "Team Tyndall" support we have grown accustomed to.

The 53rd WEG is one of four groups in the 53rd Wing, headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. Our mission is to provide Air Force leaders an annual assessment of overall Combat Air Force weapon system capability and provide 'threat representative' targets for WSEP, Defense Department and foreign military air-to-air weapons test programs. In order to accomplish this mission, we conduct weapons build through impact evaluations for all combinations of fighter, bomber and unmanned aircraft employing precision guided air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons in realistic scenarios while simultaneously enhancing aircrew training. Last year alone, with the help of Team Tyndall, the 53rd WEG hosted 34 fighter units and more than 260 aircraft employing 300-plus missiles over the Gulf of Mexico and QF-4s flew 700 hours supporting multiple Defense Department level programs. We look forward to the same level of weapons evaluation in 2013.

Squadron operations in the 53rd WEG are truly unique. The 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron is responsible for subscale and full-scale drone target operations; "Team Target" also operates E-9A aircraft for sea surveillance & telemetry collection as well as a five boat drone recovery fleet. 2013 will mark the beginning of the transition from the QF-4 to the QF-16 at Tyndall. The 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron leads all air-to air WSEP events and reports findings annually to the ACC commander and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. They are the CAF "weapons and tactics shop" for air-to-air missiles. In order to operate safely and effectively, the 81st Range Control Squadron provides radar control and safety monitoring for missile live fire events and many Defense Department test missions. Additionally, they execute Dissimilar Air Combat Training support for fighter squadrons participating in WSEP while they operate from Tyndall. Finally, we could not execute our mission without the 53rd Test Support Squadron. They are the backbone of 53rd WEG operations supporting threat replication, intelligence, resource scheduling, communications requirements, and operating the famous Special Devices Flight engineering and fabrication shop. During combined events, some of the aircraft on the ramp at Tyndall also support COMBAT HAMMER ops for air-to-ground weapons evaluation on the Eglin Range Complex. The 86th FWS, resident at Eglin AFB, executes evaluation of all CAF precision air-to-ground weapons including 13 different aircraft platforms and 118 various weapons combinations. Additionally, they provide direct support to weapons operations in combat theaters.

All together, the 53rd WEG includes more than 500 Airmen, civil servants, and contractor professionals with an unrelenting focus on ensuring the warfighters of our nation go into harm's way with weapon capability and reliability that is 100 percent understood and 100% ready to deliver the desired effects, 100% of the time. I am humbled and honored to be part of this organization, and on behalf of the 53rd WEG, thank you to all of Team Tyndall for supporting the 53rd WEG mission.