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53d Wing
53d Wing.png
Active November 20, 1940 – present
Country United States
Branch Air Force
Type Operational Test and Evaluation
Size 2100
Part of Air Combat Command
Garrison/HQ Eglin Air Force Base
Decorations Outstanding Unit ribbon.svg AFOUA
Organizational Excellence ribbon.svg AFOEA
Colonel Steven DePalmer
Paul V. Hester
Ronald Keys

The 53d Wing (53 WG) is a wing of the United States Air Force based out of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.



The 53d Wing serves as the focal point for the Combat Air Forces in electronic warfare, armament and avionics, chemical defense, reconnaissance, and aircrew training devices. The wing reports to the United States Air Force Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, a Direct Reporting Unit to Headquarters Air Combat Command. The wing is also responsible for Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) of new equipment and systems proposed for use by these forces. Current wing initiatives include advanced self-protection systems for combat aircraft, aircrew life support systems, aerial reconnaissance improvements, new armament and weapons delivery systems, and improved maintenance equipment and logistics support. The 53d Wing, which consists of four groups, numbers almost 2,000 military and civilians at 17 various locations throughout the United States.


16th Electronic Warfare Squadron (16 EWS)
36th Electronic Warfare Squadron (36 EWS)
68th Electronic Warfare Squadron (68 EWS)
513th Electronic Warfare Squadron (513 EWS)
31st Test and Evaluation Squadron (31 TES)
49th Test and Evaluation Squadron (49 TES)
72d Test and Evaluation Squadron (72 TES)
85th Test and Evaluation Squadron (85 TES)
337th Test and Evaluation Squadron (337 TES)
422d Test and Evaluation Squadron (422 TES)
556th Test and Evaluation Squadron (556 TES)
53d Test Support Squadron (53 TSS)
81st Range Control Squadron (81 RCS)
82d Aerial Targets Squadron (82 ATRS)
83d Fighter Weapons Squadron (83 FWS) Combat Archer
86th Fighter Weapons Squadron (86 FWS) Combat Hammer
  • 53d Test Management Group (53 TMG)
28th Test and Evaluation Squadron (28 TES)
29th Training Systems Squadron (29 TSS)
53d Computer Systems Squadron (53 CSS)
59th Test and Evaluation Squadron (59 TES)
F-15 Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force (OFP CTF)




  • Established as 53d Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on November 20, 1940
Activated on January 15, 1941
Redesignated 53d Fighter Group on May 15, 1942
Disbanded on May 1, 1944
  • Activated as: 521st Air Defense Group on 16 Feb 1953
  • Reestablished, and redesignated 53d Fighter Group (Air Defense), on June 20, 1955
Activated on August 18, 1955 by redesignation of 521st Air Defense Group
Discontinued on April 1, 1960
  • Redesignated 53d Tactical Fighter Group on July 31, 1985
Consolidated (September 25, 1995) with the USAF Tactical Air Warfare Center, which was organized on November 1, 1963.
Redesignated: USAF Air Warfare Center on October 1, 1991
Redesignated: 53d Wing on October 1, 1995.





  • 4485 Test: 16 Mar 1964-30 Jun 1965


  • 53 Test Management: 1 Oct 2002-Present
  • 57 Test: 1 Oct 1996-1 Aug 1997
  • 68 Electronic Combat (later, 53 Electronic Warfare): 15 Apr 1993-Wing
  • 475 (later, 53) Weapons Evaluation: 23 Jan 1991-Present
  • 4441 Tactical Training (Blue Flag) [later, 41 Training]: 1 Mar 1977-15 Apr 1993
  • 4442 Tactical Control (later, 505 Air Control; 505 Command and Control Evaluation) Group: 1 Mar 1980-1 Oct 1997
  • 4443 (later, 79; 53) Test and Evaluation: 1 Jul 1988-Present


Aircraft Flown

Oprational History

The 53d trained fighter pilots from January – December 1941. After the United States entered World War II the group moved to the Canal Zone to fly patrols in defense of the Panama Canal. The group returned to Florida in November 1942, where it trained replacement fighter pilots until was deactivated on May 1, 1944.

Between August 1955 and April 1960 the 53d served as an air defense unit, participating in NORAD exercises and testing automated air defense systems.

The group was reactivated as the USAF Tactical Air Warfare Center in 1963 to improve use of USAF tactical aviation in support of ground forces by operationally testing weapon systems and tactics for the joint U.S. Strike Command. It employed a cross-section of tactical aircraft from Tactical Air Command bases across the country. During the Vietnam War it tested tactical weapons systems and tactics for use in Southeast Asia. After the war it continued operational testing of new tactical aviation weapon systems. In 1977 the center began an annual series of Air Force-wide exercises to improve command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) techniques. Around the same time it embarked on the electronic warfare evaluation program, and continued OT&E of aviation weapon systems for Tactical Air Command and later Air Combat Command, the Department of Defense, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. From 1983 to present, responsible for the OT&E of all Air Force aircraft/weapons systems, and providing range control for live-firing missile programs on the Gulf range and aerial targets, using full scale and subscale drones.


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

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