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21st Operations Group
21st Space Wing.png
Active 1942-1946; 1953-1958; 1991; 1992-Present
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force

The 21st Operations Group (21 OG) is an operational component of the 21st Space Wing, stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado.

The mission of the 21st OG is to provide overall management and guidance to 21 geographically separated units assigned to the wing, which provide attack warning and space control. Its history goes back to World War II when the 21st Fighter Group flew very long range (VLR) escort missions of Twentieth Air Force B-29 Superfortress bombardment groups against Japan. During the Cold War, the unit was a USAFE tactical fighter unit assigned to France in the 1950s and later controlled all operational fighter squadrons at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska.



Responsibilities include establishment of operational requirements and managing the training, standardization and evaluation programs. This includes conducting command-directed evaluations and staff assistance visits. Additionally, the 21st OG develops and maintains operational procedures and regulations for field units.

The 21st OG funnels Defense Support Program satellite information to forward users, and the Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station missile warning. The group is also the focal point for the Air Force's transition from DSP to the new Space-Based Infrared Satellite system.


  • Space Warning Squadrons
6th Space Warning Squadron - Cape Cod AFS Massachusetts.
7th Space Warning Squadron - Beale AFB, California
10th Space Warning Squadron - Cavalier AFS, North Dakota
12th Space Warning Squadron - Thule AB, Greenland
13th Space Warning Squadron - Clear AFS, Alaska
RAF Fylingdales - United Kingdom
  • Space Control Squadrons
4th Space Control Squadron - Holloman AFB, New Mexico
16th Space Control Squadron - Peterson AFB, Colorado
20th Space Control Squadron - Eglin AFB, Florida
20th Space Control Squadron, Det. 1 - Dahlgren, Virginia
76th Space Control Squadron - Peterson AFB, Colorado
  • Operations Group Detachments
Det 1, 21st Operations Group - White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico
Det 2, 21st Operations Group - Diego Garcia
Det 3, 21st Operations Group - Hickam AFB, Hawaii
Det 4, 21st Operations Group - Moron AB, Spain


For additional history and lineage see 21st Space Wing


  • Established as 21 Bombardment Group (Medium) on 13 Jan 1942
Activated on 1 Feb 1942
Disestablished on 10 Oct 1943
  • Reestablished and consolidated (31 Jul 1985) with the 21 Fighter Group, which was established on 31 Mar 1944
Activated on 21 Apr 1944
Inactivated on 10 Oct 1946
  • Redesignated 21 Fighter-Bomber Group on 15 Nov 1952
Activated on 1 Jan 1953
Inactivated on 8 Feb 1958
  • Redesignated: 21 Tactical Fighter Group on 31 Jul 1985 (Remained inactive)
  • Redesignated: 21 Operations Group on 25 Sep 1991
Activated on 26 Sep 1991
Inactivated on 19 Dec 1991
  • Activated on 15 May 1992.


Attached to 7th Fighter Wing, 10 Nov 1944-Feb 1945


  • 8 Reconnaissance (later, 398 Bombardment): attached 1 Feb-21 Apr 1942, assigned 22 Apr 1942-10 Oct 1943
  • 21 Crew Training: 15 May 1992-1 Oct 1994
  • 43 Fighter: 26 Sep-19 Dec 1991
  • 46 Fighter: 15 Jun 1944-10 Oct 1946
  • 54 Fighter: 26 Sep-19 Dec 1991
  • 72 Fighter (later, 72 Fighter-Bomber): 15 Jun 1944-10 Oct 1946; 1 Jan 1953-8 Feb 1958 (detached 27 Aug-17 Sep 1953 and 15 Apr 1957-8 Feb 1958)
  • 90 Fighter: 26 Sep-19 Dec 1991
  • 313 Bombardment: 1 Feb 1942-10 Oct 1943
  • 314 Bombardment: 1 Feb 1942-10 Oct 1943
  • 315 Bombardment: 1 Feb 1942-10 Oct 1943
  • 416 Fighter-Bomber: 1 Jan 1953-8 Feb 1958 (detached 12 Sep-c. 2 Oct 1953 and 15 Apr 1957-8 Feb 1958)
  • 531 Fighter (later, 531 Fighter-Bomber): 15 Jun 1944-10 Oct 1946; 1 Jan 1953-8 Feb 1958 (detached 26 Sep-c. 17 Oct 1953 and 15 Apr 1957-8 Feb 1958)



  • A-20, 1942
  • B-18, 1942
  • B-25, 1942
  • B-26, 1942-1943
  • P-39, 1944
  • P-38, 1944-1945
  • P-51, 1944-1946
  • P-47, 1946
  • F-51, 1953
  • F-86, 1953-1958
  • T-33, 1957-1958
  • C-21, 1993-1997
  • USAF Satellites, 1993-Present


World War II


Constituted as 21st Bombardment Group (Medium) on 13 January 1942. Activated on 1 February 1942. Began training with B-25's; later converted to B-26's. Served as an operational training unit in Third AF; also flew some antisubmarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico. Disbanded on 10 October 1943.

Constituted as 21st Fighter Group on 31 March 1944. Activated in Hawaii on 21 April 1944.

Assigned to Seventh Air Force and served as part of the defense force for the Hawaiian Islands. Equipped first with P-39 Airacobras, later with P-38 Lightnings, and lastly (January 1945) with P-51 Mustang aircraft.

Reassigned to Iwo Jima, February–March 1945. Sustained some casualties when Japanese troops attacked the group's camp on the night of 26/27 March 1945, but flew first combat mission the following day, bombing and strafing airfields on Haha Jima. Flew its first mission to Japan on 7 April, being awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for escorting B-29's that struck the heavily-defended Nakajima aircraft factory near Tokyo. Operations from Iwo Jima included attacking airfields that the enemy was using to launch suicide planes against the Allied forces on Okinawa; striking enemy barracks, airfields, and shipping in the Bonins and Japan; and escorting B-29 Superfortresss that bombed Japanese cities.

During the summer of 1945, the 21st Fighter Group (along with the 15th from the VII Fighter Command) was reassigned to the Twentieth Air Force, 301st Fighter Wing. The group continued its fighter sweeps against Japanese airfields and other targets, in addition to flying long-range B-29 Superfortress escort missions to Japanese cities, until the end of the war.

With the end of hostilities, the group trained, participated in aerial reviews, and served as a part of the defense force for Iwo Jima, Saipan, and Guam after the war. Re-equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts during the summer of 1946.

Inactivated on Guam on 10 October 1946.

Post/Cold War

North American F-86F-35-NA Sabre Serial 53-1147 of the 21st FBW at Chambley-Bussieres Air Base, France. Note the aircraft is parked on temporary steel planking, when the parking apron of Chambley was still unfinished. The tail of the F-86 to the left is serial 52-5263, which was destroyed in an accident 4 June 1974

Redesignated 21st Fighter-Bomber Group. Activated at George AFB California on 1 January 1953 with three (72d, 416th and 531st) Fighter-Bomber squadrons. Assigned to Tactical Air Command. Equipped for a few months with F-51's, later with F-86's. Maintained tactical proficiency and provided air defense augmentation in the United States, January 1953 – November 1954.

At George, the group established and maintained tactical proficiency and provided air defense augmentation. In December 1954, the group was assigned to NATO and was reassigned to Chambley-Bussieres Air Base, France.

The 21 FBG consisted of three squadrons, the 72d, 416th and 531st Fighter-Bomber Squadrons, equipped with the F-86F Sabre. Upon their arrival, the facilities at Chambley were not ready for aircraft use, and the squadrons had to deploy elsewhere. The 72d deployed to Chateauroux AB, while the 416th and 531st operated out of Toul-Rosieres AB.

After many construction delays, the group combined its fighter squadrons at Chambley on 15 April 1955. The squadrons carried out close air support training missions with the Army, then took first place at the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) "Gunnery Meet" at Wheelus Air Base, Libya.

The 21 FBW participated in the Atomic Warfare exercise Carte Blanche, and went on to take an overall second place in the Nellis AFB, Nevada Gunnery Meet in 1956. Moreover, they won the USAFE Award for Tactical Proficiency for the January–June period of 1957.

In 1957, the French Government decreed that all nuclear weapons and delivery aircraft had to be removed from French soil by July 1958. As a result, the F-86's of the 21st Fighter-Bomber Group had to be removed from France. During October 1957 it was announced that the 21 FBG would be inactivated on 8 February 1958, and that its assets would be dispersed among existing USAFE units.

Modern era

In 1991, the 21st Tactical Fighter Wing was reorganized as an objective wing and all the major tenant units on Elmendorf AFB, Alaska were placed under it. The 21st Operations Group was the flying component of the 21st Wing. The 21st Wing was de-activated and the 3d Wing was reassigned from Clark Air Base, Philippines to Elmendorf on 19 December 1991 as a result of the Mount Pinatubo eruption and the inhabitability of Clark. This was in keeping Air Force's polices of retaining the oldest and most illustrious units.

The 21st Operations Group was reactivated on 15 May 1992 as a component of the redesignated and reactivated 21st Space Wing, providing command management of Air Force Space Command's worldwide network of assigned missile warning, space surveillance, and communications units.


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Air Force Historical Research Agency.

  • Maurer, Maurer (1983). Air Force Combat Units Of World War II. Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0892010924.
  • 21st Space Wing website

External links


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