17th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron

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17th Defense System Evaluation System Air Defense Command.png
Martin RB-57E 55-4253 17th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron.jpg
Martin RB-57E 55-4253 17th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron, about 1975
Active 1974–1979
Country United States
Branch United States Air Force
Type Air Defense Command
Part of 24th Air Division
Garrison/HQ Malmstrom Air Force Base
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Meritorious Unit Commendation
Commanders
Current
commander
Col Thomas W. Liner, 28 June 1974
Maj Gen Louis G. Leiser, 30 July 1974
Col David B. Ballou, 29 March 1977 (interim)
Maj Gen Don D. Pittman, 29 April 1977
Maj Gen Walter H. Baxter III, 29 September 1978
Insignia
17th DSES Squadron Patch 17thDefenseSysEvalSqdnPatch.jpg

The 17th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron is an inactive United States Air Force unit. It was last assigned to the 24th Air Division of Aerospace Defense Command at Malmstrom AFB, Montana. It was inactivated on 13 July 1979.

The squadron was first activated during World War II at Wheeler Field, Territory of Hawaii. It provided gunnery training to fighter aircraft of Seventh Air Force until being inactivated in the post war reduction of the United States military.

The squadron was again activated under Air Defense Command (ADC) at Vincent Air Force Base, Arizona in 1955 as an element of the 4750th Air Defense Wing, it moved with the wing to MacDill AFB, Florida in 1959, where it was inactivated when ADC concentrated its fighter weapons training at Tyndall AFB, Florida.

History[edit]

Tow Target[edit]

The squadron was first activated during World War II at Wheeler Field, Territory of Hawaii. It provided gunnery training to fighter aircraft of Seventh Air Force until being inactivated in the post war reduction of the United States military,[1] for its "resourcefulness and efficiency"[2] the unit was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation.[3] After April 1946, the squadron flew very few missions as it prepared for inactivation.[4]

The squadron was again activated under Air Defense Command (ADC) at Vincent Air Force Base, Arizona in 1955 as an element of the 4750th Air Defense Group,[5] at Vincent it flew aerial targets for the 4750th's mission of providing air-to-air gunnery training for pilots of interceptor aircraft assigned to ADC. It earned an Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for its performance through 1957.[3]

When the group was discontinued in 1958, the 17th was reassigned directly to the 4750th Air Defense Wing, it moved with the wing to MacDill AFB, Florida in 1959, where it was inactivated[5] when ADC concentrated its fighter weapons training at Tyndall AFB, Florida, where drone aircraft were used for air-to-air rocket training in ADC's more advanced aircraft.

Radar Evaluation[edit]

4677th DSES Patch

The predecessor of the 17th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron as a radar evaluation unit was the 4677th Radar Evaluation Flight (ECM), which was organized at Hill AFB, Utah in 1954.[6] The peacetime mission of the flight was to provide electronic countermeasure (ECM) training and evaluation services to the aircraft control and warning squadrons assigned to Air Defense Command (ADC). The squadron also had a wartime mission to provide jamming support for attack aircraft.

In order to provide the necessary training, the flight was initially assigned TB-29 Superfortresses and some TB-25 Mitchells, the B-29s and B-25s carried an assortment of active and passive radar jamming devices to provide the ECM training. A Douglas C-47 was used as a support aircraft to ferry personnel and equipment, during the period that the 4677th operated these aircraft, they provided ADC radar squadrons with thousands of hours of ECM training. On 8 July 1958 ADC redesignated the unit as the 4677th Radar Evaluation Squadron, ECM.

By 1959 the World War II era aircraft were expensive to operate, the planes needed excessive amounts of maintenance to remain airworthy and were not supportable due to a lack of spare parts.[7]

The Martin B-57 Canberra, originally purchased as a medium bomber for tactical bombardment was being phased out of tactical operations in favor of the North American F-100 Super Sabre. Twelve of these aircraft were reassigned to the squadron, they were equipped with an assortment of ECM devices and redesignated as EB-57Es. These were used as faker target aircraft against Convair F-102 Delta Dagger and Convair F-106 Delta Dart interceptors, the squadron also participated in numerous training exercises such as Feudal Indian, Vigilant Overview, and Feudal Keynote.

The unit also worked in conjunction with the Semi Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) DC-20 Direction Center at Malmstrom. The SAGE building was built for $6 million in the late 1950s for the automation of air defense and direction of interceptors against unknown aircraft.[8] Recognizing that its mission now included the evaluation of automated defense systems, the unit was renamed the 4677th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron in 1960. The squadron was twice awarded with AFOUAs for its performance of this mission.[9][10]

By 1974, ADC had inactivated the rest of its flying radar evaluation units and wanted to replace the 4677th, which was a Major Command controlled (MAJCON) unit with and Air Force controlled (AFCON) squadron, whose history could be continued if it were inactivated,[11] as a result, the 4677th was inactivated and the 17th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron was activated in its place.[6] The continuity between the units was shown when the 17th decided to retain the 4677th's patch, changing only the number in the scroll.

The squadron remained active until 1979[6] when it was inactivated as part of the reduced need for aerrial evaluation of military radars as the Joint Surveillance System utilizing radars shared with the Federal Aviation Administration began to replace military radars.

Lineage[edit]

17th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron

  • Constituted as the 17th Tow Target Squadron ca. 10 November 1943
Activated on 4 December 1943
Inactivated ca. 30 September 1946[4]
Activated on 8 January 1955
Inactivated on 15 June 1960[5]
Redesignated as the 17th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron 8 March 1974
Activated on 1 July 1974
Inactivated on 13 July 1979[6]

4677th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron

  • Designated and organized as 4677th Radar Evaluation Flight (ECM) on 18 March 1954
Redesignated 4677th Radar Evaluation Squadron, ECM on 8 July 1958
Redesignated 4677th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron on 1 January 1960
Inactivated on 1 July 1974[6]

Assignments[edit]

17th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron

4677th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron

Stations[edit]

17th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron

  • Wheeler Field, 4 December 1943 – ca. 30 September 1946
  • Vincent AFB, Arizona, 8 January 1955[5]
  • MacDill AFB, Florida, 11 June 1959 – 15 June 1960[13]
  • Malmstrom AFB, Montana. 1 July 1974 – 13 July 1979[6]

4677th Defense Systems Evaluation Squadron

  • Hill AFB, Utah, 18 March 1954
  • Malmstrom AFB, Montana, 31 August 1972 – 1 July 1974[6]

Aircraft[edit]

Awards[edit]

Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Streamer MUC Army.PNG Meritorious Unit Commendation 22 September 1944 – 22 March 1945 17 Tow Target Sq[3]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 September 1953[sic] – 1 November 1957 17 Tow Target Sq[3]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 December 1961 – 30 November 1963 4677 DSES[9]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg Air Force Outstanding Unit Award 1 July 1968 – 30 June 1970 4677 DSES[10]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Abstract, History of Wheeler Field Jul–Dec 1945 (retrieved June 7, 2013)
  2. ^ Abstract, History of Wheeler Field May 1945 (retrieved June 7, 2013)
  3. ^ a b c d AF Pamphlet 900-2, Unit Decorations, Awards and Campaign Participation Credits Department of the Air Force, Washington, DC, 15 Jun 1971, p. 122
  4. ^ a b Abstract, History 17th Tow Tgt Sq Apr–Sep 1946 (retrieved June 7, 2013)
  5. ^ a b c d e Cornett, Lloyd H; Johnson, Mildred W (1980). A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization, 1946–1980 (PDF). Peterson AFB, CO: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. p. 173. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cornett & Johnson, p. 112
  7. ^ The last USAF B-29 (a TB-29 radar evaluation aircraft, B-29-15-MO serial number 42-65234) was retired from the USAF inventory at 2010 hours on 21 June 1960, when Major Clarence C. Rarick of the 6023d Radar Evaluation Squadron landed at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, bringing the era of B-29 Superfortress military service to an end.
  8. ^ GreatFallsTribune.com: 25-years-after-NORAD—Great-Falls-back-on-radar
  9. ^ a b AFP900-2, p. 547
  10. ^ a b AF Pamphlet 900-2, Unit Decorations, Awards and Campaign Participation Credits, Vol II Department of the Air Force, Washington, DC, 30 Sep 1976 , p. 119
  11. ^ MAJCON units could not carry a permanent history or lineage. Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). A Guide to Air Force Lineage and Honors (2d, Revised ed.). Maxwell AFB, AL: USAF Historical Research Center. p. 12. 
  12. ^ Abstract, History of 7th Provisional Control Group Sep 1944 (retrieved June 7, 2013)
  13. ^ Mueller, Robert (1989). Air Force Bases, Vol. I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982 (PDF). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 345–354. ISBN 0-912799-53-6. 
  14. ^ Abstract, History 17th Tow Tgt Sq Aug 1944 (retrieved June 7, 2013)

Bibliography[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

External links[edit]