Tyndall celebrates air dominance milestone

  • Published
  • By Col. Charles Corcoran and Lt. Col. Lance Wilkins
  • 325 Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Editor's Note: April 15, 2013 marks a very important date in Air Dominance history. Through the years, Tyndall has become known as the "Home of Air Dominance," due to the wide variety of missions here and what they bring to the fight. On this anniversary, two Tyndall units stepped forward to commemorate this milestone. Here are their submissions.

325th Fighter Wing

By Col. Charles Corcoran, 325th Operations Group commander

April 15, 1953. Every Airman should understand the significance of this date, as it was the first day of a streak that has now lasted 60 years. According to Air Force and DOD historians, April 15, 1953 was the last time an American ground troop was killed by ordnance delivered from an enemy aircraft.

Six years prior, on Sep. 18, 1947, our nation's leaders, recognizing the necessity of having a core cadre of military professionals dedicated to the control and exploitation of the air domain, established an independent Air Force.

Domain control is our raison d'etre. It is WHY we exist, and for 60 years running, no enemy of the United States has been able to control the air domain over any battlefield on which our joint and coalition partners were operating. Our Air Force has maintained this impressive streak on the shoulders of our Airmen, and every Airman at Tyndall should take great pride in his or her contribution to the mission. Whether you are a member of the 325th Fighter Wing or one of the many tenant units, your day-to-day job supports the Air Force's core function of domain control in some form or fashion. If it didn't, your position would not exist. Our nation's Air Force is not a jobs program. It is a professional military force performing a vital national security function.

And this streak must continue. In our business, failure is not an option. Our Air Force and our nation are facing serious financial constraints that will certainly force us to make difficult choices in the months and years ahead. However, we have no shortage of innovative Airmen possessing the intellectual capital we can and will invest to ensure we continue to control the air domain.

I am honored to serve with each of you, and I salute you on a job well done!

53rd Weapons Evaluation Group

By Lt. Col. Lance Wilkins, 82ND Aerial Targets Squadron commander

According to Air Force and Defense Department historians, April 15, 1953 was the last time that an American ground troop was killed by an enemy aircraft. That means that today, April 15, 2013, marks 60 years of U. S. Air Force provided Air Superiority. This is an amazing feat!

Air Superiority is not cheap. Aircraft are expensive to design, expensive to build, and expensive to operate. Maintenance is critical. Training is an ongoing investment as well. Without this investment, however, the unique aspects and capability of Airpower would be greatly diminished.

Over the past few decades, the investment in aircraft types has shifted dramatically. Now, the number of aircraft that depend on air superiority actually outnumber aircraft that can provide air superiority by over three to one (5,484 to 1,698). Throw in all joint aircraft and the number is closer to five to one! This means that our air superiority-coded aircraft must be extremely effective in every regard and that's where the 53rd Weapons Evaluation Group plays a role.

Every couple of years, units from around the combat air forces of our joint, coalition, and foreign military sales partners travel to Tyndall and participate in COMBAT ARCHER. This air-to-air evaluation of the man-missile-machine interface is invaluable to maintaining a sharp edge in the dynamic arena of aerial combat. It is a phenomenal team effort in every regard.

For COMBAT ARCHER, the 53rd WEG provides command and control via the 81st Range Control Squadron, test support via the 53rd Test Support Squadron, evaluators via the 83rd Fighter Weapons Squadron, and targets via the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron. (The WEG also includes the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. that specializes in the air-to-ground evaluations called COMBAT HAMMER). In addition to COMBAT ARCHER, which accounts for approximately four percent of team target's work, in the last two years, the 82nd has supported more than 30 joint, coalition and FMS programs in the testing and evaluation of a myriad of aircraft and weapons.

The 82nd ATRS is the DoD only full-scale aerial target provider and utilizes the QF-4 (soon the QF-16) as a target. But, the workhorse of air-to-air testing and evaluation is the Subscale Aerial Target known currently as the BQM-167 Streaker. A completely reusable target, this drone can be either land or water recovered by 82nd Team Target personnel. Over the life of the BQM-167 program, more than 1,650 weapons have been employed against only 202 subscale targets! This is efficiency at its best.

For the past six decades, the USAF has been the world's premier Airpower, today the 82d Aerial Targets, and the entire 53 Weapons Evaluation Group stands ready to ensure that this sacred heritage continues.