United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command
United States Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command is a component command of the United States Special Operations Command that comprises the Marine Corps' contribution to SOCOM. Its core capabilities are special reconnaissance and foreign internal defense. MARSOC has been directed to conduct counter-terrorism, information operations, its creation was announced on 23 November 2005 by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, following a meeting between him, the USSOCOM commander General Bryan D. Brown, the Marine Corps Commandant General Michael Hagee on 28 October 2005. MARSOC was activated on 24 February 2006 with ceremonies at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; the potential participation of the Marine Corps in SOCOM has been controversial since SOCOM was formed in 1986. At the time, Marine Corps leaders felt that their Force Reconnaissance units were best kept in the Marine Corps' MAGTF command structure, that the detachment of an elite Marine Special Operations unit from the Marine Corps would be to the detriment of the Marine Corps as a whole.
A re-evaluation following the September 11 attacks and the War on Terrorism, along with new policy established by Secretary Rumsfeld and then-Commandant Gen. James L. Jones at The Pentagon, caused the Marine Corps to work towards integration with SOCOM; the establishment of MARSOC represented the most significant step towards that goal, followed the establishment of MCSOCOM Detachment One, a small Marine Corps detachment formed as a pilot program to test Marine Corps integration into SOCOM. It was made up of Force Recon Marines from 1st and 2nd Force Reconnaissance Companies along with other hand-picked support men and served with Navy SEALs under Naval Special Warfare Group One. Detachment 1 conducted a multitude of special operations in Iraq alongside their Special Operations brothers of the sister services. SOCOM conducted a study of the unit's deployment, which indicated success and strong performance. Detachment 1 was disbanded in 2006 soon after the creation of MARSOC; the first of many Marine Special Operations Companies stood up in June 2006.
MARSOC's initial deployment to Afghanistan in 2007 was mired in controversy when its Fox Company was sent back to the United States and its commander relieved from duty after a shooting incident. The incident that resulted in as many as 19 civilians killed involved a complex ambush by insurgents that included a suicide VBIED and small arms fire. Allegations arose that the MARSOC operators killed the civilians while suppressing enemy fire, but these allegations proved false. MARSOC Marines took part in Operation Enduring Freedom – Philippines. Following General Petraeus' take over of command in Afghanistan in 2010, in support of the ALP/VSO programme, SOF in Afghanistan were task-organised into battalion level SOTF, each with a geographic area of responsibility - for MARSOC, this was western Afghanistan and Helmand Province. In March 2012, MARSOC teams suffered several casualties to Green on Blue attacks. In July 2012, a patrol of Afghan Army Commandos was ambushed by insurgents from a number of buildings in Badghis Province, three Afghans were wounded by small arms fire, Gunnery Sergeants Jonathan Gifford and Daniel Price raced forward on an ATV to retrieve the wounded under direct fire from the enemy.
After evacuating the wounded to an emergency HLZ from where they were safely medevaced, they returned to firefight and assaulted the enemy positions in a fierce close-quarter battle. Whilst throwing grenades down the chimney of an insurgent-occupied building, they were struck and killed by PKM fire, for his actions that day Price was awarded the Silver Star, it was deployed supporting the Global War on Terrorism in December 2006 alongside the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit where they conducted various special operations missions, ranging from Direct action and other mission sets. Since MARSOC's first deployment, it has become a strong partner in SOCOM and proven itself able to conduct full-spectrum special operations, they have conducted both long-term counterinsurgency under the VSO program and carried out complex Direct Action tasks. The first Marine Special Operations Individual Training Course began at Camp Lejeune on 6 October 2008. MARSOC's stated end-goal is 850 CSOs. MARSOC's organization was finalized in 2007.
The base unit of MARSOC is the fourteen-man Marine Special Operations Team, commanded by a captain as Team Commander, assisted by a master sergeant as Team Chief. Each team has two identical squads, or Tactical Elements, each led by a gunnery sergeant as Element Leader. MARSOC is based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina and is split into three subordinate commands: Special Operations Combat Service Specialists are Combat Service Support Marines who serve one standard tour with MARSOC in their primary MOS, such as Motor Transport or Logistics, their training includes core skills for joint and interagency work as well as enhanced SOF combat skills training to enable their successful integration and survivability in special operations environments. Special Operations Capabilities Specialists are Combat Support Marines that are able to join MARSOC based upon their MOS skill, they receive advanced special operations forces certification. SOCSs are operational and tactical force multipliers and deploy alongside Critical Skills Operators.
SOCS billet fields include Intelligence, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Dog Handlers, Fire-Control Specialists. Special Operations Capabilities Specialist are awarded the AMOS of 8071, return to the operatin
Marine Aerial Navigator insignia
The Marine Aerial Navigator insignia is a military badge of the United States Marine Corps, issued to Marine Corps enlisted personnel who complete flight training as a navigator on board Marine Corps aircraft. The Marine Aerial Navigator insignia is not issued to U. S. Naval aviation personnel and is the only independent aviation insignia issued to the Marine Corps; the Marine Aerial Navigator insignia is similar in appearance to the Naval Flight Officer insignia and is considered a "successor" to the Naval Aviation Observer insignia, issued between March 1945 and March 1947. To be awarded the Marine Aerial Navigator insignia, a service member must complete the Marine Aerial Navigator Course; the Marine Aerial Navigation School was stationed at Mather AFB, until that base was closed under the BRAC, upon which time it was moved to Randolph AFB. The Marine Aerial Navigation School remained at Randolph until the school was decommissioned with the graduation of Class 04-01 on 31 July, 2004. Presently, personnel must obtain an equivalent formal course of another service and volunteer to fly as enlisted aircrew.
Marine Aerial Navigators were eliminated with the introduction of the KC-130J aircraft. While training of Marine Aerial Navigators has ceased, they continue to fly on the'legacy' KC-130T aircraft until their eventual replacement with KC-130J airframes. Upon completion of training, certification as a Marine Corps Navigator, the Marine Aerial Navigator insignia is presented. After designation, Marine Aerial Navigators serve in the Military Occupational Specialty 7371 while undergoing aircraft model-specific training and move into MOS 7372 upon completion of their aircraft type training. Navigators that enter the warrant officer ranks move into MOS 7380. There is no separate insignia worn by warrant officer navigators. Badges of the United States Marine Corps Obsolete badges of the United States military
United States Marine Air-Ground Task Force Reconnaissance
The reconnaissance mission within the United States Marine Corps is divided into two distinct but complementary aspects. The United States Marine Corps Reconnaissance Battalions are the reconnaissance assets of Marine Air-Ground Task Force that provide division-level ground and amphibious reconnaissance to the Ground Combat Element within the United States Marine Corps. Division reconnaissance teams are employed to observe and report on enemy activity and other information of military significance in close operations, their capabilities are similar to those of Force Recon, but do not insert by parachute, provide limited direct action, whereas Force Reconnaissance companies perform both deep reconnaissance and direct action operations. Some of these missions are shared by Marine Special Operations Teams, a subordinate part of Marine Special Operations Command. At the turn of the 20th Century, amphibious reconnaissance as we know it today in the United States Fleet Marine Force, was first conceived by a Marine officer, then-Major Dion Williams, who formulated the first official naval doctrine concerning intelligence gathering for planning of operations.
Williams' doctrine outlined a wide spectrum of reconnaissance, which consisted of: range determination topography hydrographic survey of rivers and canals telegraph cables/lines and wireless telegraphy resources conditions of the harbor and harbor steamers, docks, water service the population existing defenses He specified in his thesis that these Marines needed to be competent in surveying and recording observations, as well as reading previous maps and surveys of various types.…talented and experienced men should be assigned to this work, listing among the requisite qualities a thorough technical knowledge, a quick and energetic nature to ensure the work is accomplished without unnecessary delay, a sufficient resourcefulness to overcome unexpected obstacles, a reticence to ensure results are kept confidential, above all, exactitude of work. Although there was little effect in creating a formidable unit because the outset of World War I and the Gallipoli Operations due to the lack of Marine Corp personnel by the Isolationism of 1920-1930s.
Drawbacks concurred while most of the Marine forces were engaged in conflicts of China and Nicaragua. After World War I, three significant aspects of the second edition of Williams' Naval Reconnaissance included: discussion of additional capabilities of observation from airplanes and submarines promulgation of the book under authority of the Secretary of the Navy instead of under the auspices of the President of the Naval War College emphasis on information acquisition for long-term planning, it was this latter emphasis on obtaining information long before hostilities, of greatest significance. Rather than obtaining information for military operations in progress, Williams now enunciated a more comprehensive mission; the earliest activities in amphibious reconnaissance was limited in surveying of ports, uncharted islands and adjacent beaches or coastlines. Most of these duties were billeted by senior Naval Intelligence Officers that were prerequisites in topography, impermanent construction of fortification with the means of rapid encampment and mobilization of troops to operate in their area.
However, another Marine intel officer and amphibious reconnaissance war prophet, Earl H. Ellis, put most of William's concept to effect years later. After fighting in the trenches in WWI, in 1921, Ellis submitted a request to Headquarters Marine Corps for special intelligence duty in South America and the Pacific, in which he foresaw the built-up of Japanese naval forces that led to the events of World War II, it was during his special duty that introduced the most profound accounts of Ellis's intelligence reports. He submitted a 30,000 page Top Secret document concerning his detail discussion of local sea and the climate, various land terrain types, the native population and economic conditions, he discussed his reports on strategically seizing key islands as forward-operating bases for project naval forces into the area. His time-tables, mobilization projections, predictions of manpower necessary to seize certain targets, his maritime intelligence reports became paramount years for the United States maritime forces, during the Pacific campaigns of World War II.
In the 1920s and 1930s, the Fleet Marine Force first tested Williams' conceptual methods of reconnaissance in the fourth series of the Fleet Landing Exercises in the Caribbean. By 7 December 1933, the Fleet Marine Force was formed at HQMC in Quantico, VA, combining the roles of the Navy and Marine Corps into an integrated maritime assault force. Shortly after, a new naval doctrine, the Fleet Training Publication 167 was created to ensure long-term purposes. Although the subsequent tests encompassed more broadly in combined amphibious/ground reconnaissance efforts, its aerial reconnaissance elements cannot be overlooked sin
United States Astronaut Badge
The United States Astronaut Badge is a badge of the United States, awarded to military pilots, naval flight officers, navigators/combat systems officers, flight surgeons, civilian pilots who have completed training and performed a successful spaceflight. A variation of the astronaut badge is issued to civilians who are employed with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as specialists on spaceflight missions, it is the least awarded qualification badge of the United States military. To earn an astronaut badge, a U. S. Air Force or U. S. Navy and Marine Corps officer must complete all required training and participate in a space flight more than 50 miles above the Earth; the U. S. Army has awarded the badge to officers. In the 1960s, the United States Department of Defense awarded astronaut badges to military and civilian pilots who flew aircraft higher than 50 miles. Seven USAF and NASA pilots qualified for the astronaut badge by flying the suborbital X-15 rocket spaceplane. American test pilots Michael Melvill and Brian Binnie were each awarded a commercial astronaut badge by the Federal Aviation Administration when they flew sub-orbital missions aboard the Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne rocket spaceplane.
All other men and women awarded the astronaut badge earned it travelling to space in non-winged rockets, the X-15, or the Space Shuttle. Each of the military services issues its own version of the astronaut badge, which consists of a standard aviation badge with an astronaut device centered on the badge's shield, or escutcheon; the United States Air Force and United States Army astronaut badges are issued in three degrees: Basic and command /master. The senior astronaut badge is denoted by a star centered above the decoration, while the command/master level is indicated by a star and wreath; the U. S. Air Force Astronaut Badge consists of a standard USAF aeronautical badge upon, centered the Astronaut Device; the Air Force does not consider Astronaut to be a separate rating from its six established rating badges, but as a "qualifier" to them, may only be awarded by the Air Force Chief of Staff after written application upon completion of an operational space mission. The rating of Observer is used for USAF Mission Specialists who have completed training but not a mission and are not otherwise aeronautically rated as a USAF pilot, RPA pilot, combat systems officer, air battle manager, or flight surgeon.
In 2007, the U. S. Air Force announced the opening of astronaut mission specialists positions to enlisted personnel who met certain eligibility requirements; these requirements include: Be on active duty in the U. S. Air Force. Be a United States citizen Have a minimum of a bachelor's degree in either engineering, biological science, or physical science, with 3 years experience. Have a current Class II Flight Physical Be between 62 and 75 inches tall. No enlisted astronaut badges are yet known to have been issued; the gold astronaut device is issued by the U. S. Army to Army aviators, flight surgeons, aircrew members that qualify as astronauts; the astronaut device is a gold shooting star and elliptical orbit, affixed over the shield of awarded Army aviation badges. Army astronauts that have yet to fly a mission and have not been awarded any aviation badge are awarded the army aviation badge. Once they have flown a mission, they are awarded the Astronaut Device, affixed to the shield of their army aviation badge.
The army astronaut device was approved on May 17, 1983. The black version of the device and its sew-on equivalent may be worn on the Army Combat Uniform, it is believed to be the rarest badge issued by the U. S. Army; the naval astronaut insignias are issued in a single degree to naval aviators and flight officers from the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, United States Coast Guard, with officers of all three branches receiving their designations as aviators or flight officers through the naval aviation flight training program. All three branches wear the same insignia which consists of naval aviator insignia or naval flight officer insignia with a centered gold astronaut device. However, the Coast Guard only issues the naval flight officer version of the astronaut insignia to its astronauts. NASA has a civilian astronaut badge, issued to civilian personnel who participate in U. S. space missions. The U. S. Federal Aviation Administration grants commercial astronaut wings to commercial pilots who have performed a successful spaceflight.
Two people earned Commercial Wings in 2004, two other crews have been granted wings since 2018. The FAA Commercial Astronaut Wings design changed before the 2018 flights. In addition to the astronaut badge, worn on a military uniform, an astronaut pin is issued to all NASA astronauts, it is a lapel pin, worn on civilian clothing. The pin is issued in two grades and gold, with the silver pin awarded to candidates who have completed astronaut training and the gold pin to astronauts who have flown in space. Astronaut candidates are given silver pins but are required to purchase the gold pin at a cost of $400. A unique astronaut pin was made for NASA astronaut Deke Slayton in 1967, it was gold in color, like the ones given to astronauts who had flown, it had a small diamond embedded in the star. It was made at the request of the crew of the first manned mission of the Apollo
United States Naval Aviator
A Naval Aviator is a commissioned officer or warrant officer qualified as a pilot in the United States Navy, United States Marine Corps or United States Coast Guard. In the U. S. Navy, most Naval Aviators are unrestricted line officers, eligible for command at sea. A small number of URL officers trained as Naval Aviators and Naval Flight Officers who hold technical degrees at the undergraduate and/or postgraduate level may opt to laterally transfer to the restricted line as Aerospace Engineering Duty Officers. AEDOs are test pilot school graduates and retain their flying status, with most of their billets being in the Naval Air Systems Command. An smaller number of Naval Aviators are in the U. S. Navy Medical Corps as Naval Flight Surgeons; these are either former URL officers designated as Naval Aviators who attend medical school and transfer to the Medical Corps, or an smaller percentage of "dual designator" Naval Flight Surgeons who are selected to be Student Naval Aviators and undergo pilot training as Medical Corps officers.
The vast majority of Naval Flight Surgeons, although they are on flight status, are not dual designated and are not Naval Aviators. All U. S. Marine Corps officers are line officers, either unrestricted line, limited duty, or warrant officer, eligible to command MAGTF units commensurate with their grade and occupational specialty. S. Marine Corps does not have restricted line officers or staff corps officers, as does the U. S. Navy. All current USMC naval aviators and naval flight officers are unrestricted line officers, analogous to the Navy's URL officers; the U. S. Coast Guard categorizes all of its officers with its naval aviators being considered "operational" officers in the same manner as its cutterman officers in the Coast Guard's surface cutter fleet; until 1981, the U. S. Navy and U. S. Marine Corps had a small number of senior enlisted personnel trained as pilots; such individuals were referred to as naval aviation pilots, colloquially "NAPs" or "APs." The since retired NAPs continue to have a professional organization known as the Silver Eagles, which remains informally aligned with other naval aviation professional organizations such as the Association of Naval Aviation, the Tailhook Association, the Maritime Patrol Association, the Naval Helicopter Association, among others.
The naval aviation pilot wings worn by NAPs were identical in design to the naval aviator insignia worn by commissioned officers. The Silver Eagle title was a reflection; the U. S. Navy still has an unknown number of senior officers on active duty in the Regular Navy or serving in the Navy Reserve who were accessed as NAVCADs; these individuals entered service via the NAVCAD program during the mid/late 1980s and early 1990s when the program was reinstated following a hiatus of over twenty years. NAVCADs were non-commissioned cadets who were required to have a minimum of 60 college credit hours to enter flight training and were accessed only through the now defunct Aviation Officer Candidate School program. Upon completion of AOCS, NAVCADS would enter into flight training and upon successful completion of training and designation as a naval aviator would be commissioned as officers with a reserve commission in an active duty status. After completion of their initial operational flying tour, they would receive an assignment to complete their bachelor's degree.
NAVCADs who failed to complete flight training were contractually obligated to enter fleet service as undesignated enlisted personnel. The last civilian applicants were accepted into the NAVCAD program in 1992 and the program was canceled on October 1, 1993. Except for an small number of enlisted personnel selected to attend flight school subsequent to completing the STA-21, OCS, USMMA, USNA or USCGA programs, all other student naval aviators must first obtain an officer commission. To become a naval aviator, non-prior service personnel must be between the ages of 19 and 27 when entering flight training. Adjustments can be made up to 24 months for those with prior service, up to 48 months for those in the military at the time of application or for Marine Corps platoon leader's course applicants with prior enlisted service. Navy and Marine Corps officers are commissioned through five sources: the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. A smaller number were commissioned via the Navy's limited duty officer or chief warrant officer programs, but this track has since been discontinued.
Coast Guard Officers receive their commissions either from the United States Coast Guard Academy or Coast Guard Officer Candidate School, both located in New London, Connecticut. Graduates of these programs are commissioned as Navy ensigns in the U. S. Navy or U. S. Coast Guard, or as second lieutenants in the Marine Corps. All individuals must p
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or from a combination of fission and fusion reactions. Both bomb types release large quantities of energy from small amounts of matter; the first test of a fission bomb released an amount of energy equal to 20,000 tons of TNT. The first thermonuclear bomb test released energy equal to 10 million tons of TNT. A thermonuclear weapon weighing little more than 2,400 pounds can release energy equal to more than 1.2 million tons of TNT. A nuclear device no larger than traditional bombs can devastate an entire city by blast and radiation. Since they are weapons of mass destruction, the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a focus of international relations policy. Nuclear weapons have been used twice in war, both times by the United States against Japan near the end of World War II. On August 6, 1945, the U. S. Army Air Forces detonated a uranium gun-type fission bomb nicknamed "Little Boy" over the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
S. Army Air Forces detonated a plutonium implosion-type fission bomb nicknamed "Fat Man" over the Japanese city of Nagasaki; these bombings caused injuries that resulted in the deaths of 200,000 civilians and military personnel. The ethics of these bombings and their role in Japan's surrender are subjects of debate. Since the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, nuclear weapons have been detonated over two thousand times for testing and demonstration. Only a few nations are suspected of seeking them; the only countries known to have detonated nuclear weapons—and acknowledge possessing them—are the United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, China, India and North Korea. Israel is believed to possess nuclear weapons, though, in a policy of deliberate ambiguity, it does not acknowledge having them. Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands are nuclear weapons sharing states. South Africa is the only country to have independently developed and renounced and dismantled its nuclear weapons.
The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons aims to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, but its effectiveness has been questioned, political tensions remained high in the 1970s and 1980s. Modernisation of weapons continues to this day. There are two basic types of nuclear weapons: those that derive the majority of their energy from nuclear fission reactions alone, those that use fission reactions to begin nuclear fusion reactions that produce a large amount of the total energy output. All existing nuclear weapons derive some of their explosive energy from nuclear fission reactions. Weapons whose explosive output is from fission reactions are referred to as atomic bombs or atom bombs; this has long been noted as something of a misnomer, as their energy comes from the nucleus of the atom, just as it does with fusion weapons. In fission weapons, a mass of fissile material is forced into supercriticality—allowing an exponential growth of nuclear chain reactions—either by shooting one piece of sub-critical material into another or by compression of a sub-critical sphere or cylinder of fissile material using chemically-fueled explosive lenses.
The latter approach, the "implosion" method, is more sophisticated than the former. A major challenge in all nuclear weapon designs is to ensure that a significant fraction of the fuel is consumed before the weapon destroys itself; the amount of energy released by fission bombs can range from the equivalent of just under a ton to upwards of 500,000 tons of TNT. All fission reactions generate the remains of the split atomic nuclei. Many fission products are either radioactive or moderately radioactive, as such, they are a serious form of radioactive contamination. Fission products are the principal radioactive component of nuclear fallout. Another source of radioactivity is the burst of free neutrons produced by the weapon; when they collide with other nuclei in surrounding material, the neutrons transmute those nuclei into other isotopes, altering their stability and making them radioactive. The most used fissile materials for nuclear weapons applications have been uranium-235 and plutonium-239.
Less used has been uranium-233. Neptunium-237 and some isotopes of americium may be usable for nuclear explosives as well, but it is not clear that this has been implemented, their plausible use in nuclear weapons is a matter of dispute; the other basic type of nuclear weapon produces a large proportion of its energy in nuclear fusion reactions. Such fusion weapons are referred to as thermonuclear weapons or more colloquially as hydrogen bombs, as they rely on fusion reactions between isotopes of hydrogen. All such weapons derive a significant portion of their energy from fission reactions used to "trigger" fusion reactions, fusion reactions can themselves trigger additional fission reactions. Only six countries—United States, United Kingdom, China and India—have conducted thermonuclear weapon tests. North Korea claims to have tested a fusion weapon as of January 2016. Thermonuclear weapons a
Eglin Air Force Base
Eglin Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base in western Florida, located about three miles southwest of Valparaiso in Okaloosa County. The host unit at Eglin is the 96th Test Wing; the 96 TW is the test and evaluation center for Air Force air-delivered weapons and guidance systems and Control systems, Air Force Special Operations Command systems. Eglin AFB was established 84 years ago in 1935 as the Valparaiso Gunnery Base, it is named in honor of Lt. Col. Frederick I. Eglin, killed in a crash of his Northrop A-17 attack aircraft on a flight from Langley to Maxwell Field, Alabama. Eglin is an Air Force Materiel Command base serving as the focal point for all Air Force armaments. Eglin is responsible for the development, testing and sustainment of all air-delivered non-nuclear weapons; the base plans and conducts test and evaluation of U. S. and allied air armament and guidance systems, command and control systems. Severe-weather testing of aircraft and other equipment is carried out here at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory.
The residential portion of the base is a census-designated place. Eglin Air Force Base has 2,359 military family housing units. Unmarried junior enlisted members live in one of Eglin’s seven dormitories located near the dining hall, base gym, enlisted club, bus lines on base; each individual unit handles dormitory assignments. Bachelor officer quarters are not available. Several units and one dormitory were being renovated in 2011; the base covers 463,128 acres. Eglin is one of the few military air bases in the U. S. to have scheduled passenger airline service as the Destin–Fort Walton Beach Airport is co-located on the base property. The 96 TW is the test and evaluation wing for Air Force air-delivered weapons and guidance systems and Control systems, Air Force Special Operations Command systems; the Eglin Gulf Test Range provides 130,000 square miles of over water airspace. The 96 TW supports other tenant units on the installation with traditional military services as well as all the services of a small city, to include civil engineering, logistics, computer, security.
The 96 TW reports to the Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB. The 33d FW "Nomads" is the largest tenant unit at Eglin; the 33 FW is a joint graduate flying and maintenance training wing for the F-35 Lightning II, organized under Air Education and Training Command's 19th Air Force. First established as the 33d Pursuit Group, the wing’s contribution to tactical airpower during its 50-year history has been significant with participation in campaigns around the world, while flying various fighter aircraft. Reactivated at Eglin on 1 April 1965 with F-4C Phantom IIs, the wing operated, successively, F-4D and E models into the 1970s before transitioning to the F-15 Eagle; as of 1 October 2009, the 33d FW transitioned to a training wing for the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The final F-15s assigned to the 33d departed the base in September 2009; as the first of its kind in the Department of Defense, the joint wing is responsible for F-35 JSF pilot and maintainer training for the Air Force, Marine Corps and the Navy.
The first of 59 F-35s arrived from Fort Worth, Texas on 14 July 2011. The 58th FS "Mighty Gorillas" are authorized to operate 24 assigned F-35A aircraft and executing a training curriculum in support of Air Force and international partner pilot training requirements; the F-35A is a conventional-takeoff-and-landing low-observable multi-role fighter aircraft, designed with 5th-generation sensors and weapons, is able to perform air superiority, air interdiction and close air support missions. The F-35A made its first flight on 15 December 2006; the VFA-101 "Grim Reapers" are authorized to operate 15 assigned F-35C aircraft and executing a training curriculum in support of Navy aviator training requirements. The F-35C is a carrier-capable low-observable multi-role fighter aircraft; the F-35C bears structural modifications from the other variants, necessitated by the increased resiliency required for carrier operations. The 53 WG is headquartered at Eglin and serves as the Air Force’s focal point for operational test and evaluation of armament and avionics, aircrew training devices, chemical defense, aerial reconnaissance improvements, electronic warfare systems, is responsible for the QF-4 Phantom II Full Scale Aerial Target program and subscale drone programs.
The wing tests every fighter, unmanned aerial vehicle, associated weapon system in the Air Force inventory. The wing reports to the USAF Air Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, a Direct Reporting Unit to Headquarters, Air Combat Command. Squadron attached to the 53d Wing but located at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana)The squadron plans and reports ACC's weapon system evaluation programs for bombers and nuclear-capable fighters; these evaluations include operational effectiveness and suitability and control, performance of aircraft hardware and software systems, employment tactics, accuracy and reliability of associated precision weapons. These weapons include air-launched cruise missiles, standoff missiles, gravity bombs. Results and conclusions support acquisition decisions and development of war plans; the unit performs operational testing on new systems and tactics development for the B-52. The Armament Directorate, located