B-1B and B-52 visit the 53d Wing at Eglin AFB

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A B1-B Lancer from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and a B-52 from Barksdale Air Force Base, La., sit on the ramp at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. on July 30, 2019. Aircrew brought the 53rd Wing bombers to allow wing personnel an opportunity to see one of their geographically separated aircraft up close. (Army photograph by Sgt. Michael Parnell)

As part of the 53rd Test Management Group Commander’s Course, members of the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron from Dyess AFB, Texas, and the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron from Barksdale AFB, La., brought a B-1B Lancer and B-52 Stratofortress, respectively, to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., on July 30, 2019.

Due to the 53rd Wing’s diverse and dispersed mission, many Airmen across the wing work on software and systems related to the B-1 and B-52 but have never interacted with the aircraft or aircrew in person. One of the Eglin units that work on the B-1 and B-52 is the 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron.

“In the Air Force, we focus on ensuring every Airman knows how they fit into the larger mission and the purpose of what they do,” said Lt. Col. Robert Mathis, commander, 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron. “It’s a huge morale boost and definitely inspiring for my Airmen to be able to see, touch and engage with the jets and aircrew they have spent years supporting.”

Second Lt. Andrew Ervin is a B-1 Defensive Systems Engineer at. In his job, he develops mission data files for the B-1, but prior to this tour, he had never seen one before.

A B1-B Lancer from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, sits on the ramp at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. on July 30, 2019. Aircrew brought the 53rd Wing bombers to allow wing personnel an opportunity to see one of their geographically separated aircraft up close. (Army photograph by Sgt. Sean Hill)

“I’m a very hands-on person, and as a result it’s sometimes easy to lose track of how engaging my job as an engineer is,” said Ervin. “It’s easy to forget that the endless ocean of numbers we put into mission data actually are loaded onto a jet and sent into combat. Getting to see and tour the platform my work goes into was an exciting opportunity and re-invigorated my professional drive at work.”

Despite being an Air Combat Command wing, the 53rd Wing is responsible for the operational testing, evaluating and optimizing, using electronic warfare, every bomber (as well as every fighter, remotely piloted aircraft and more) in the U.S. Air Force.

“Airmen are what makes the Air Force excellent.” said Mathis. “By seeing the weight, size and bomb bays of these aircraft, it emphasized the importance of our team’s work as well as the individual’s impact to the mission.”

The 53rd Wing is the primary operational test and evaluation wing for the U.S. Air Force. The wing provides tactical advantage to the warfighter at the speed of relevance. By testing new, operational capabilities, evaluating fielded capabilities, and optimizing electronic warfare capabilities, the 53rd Wing is bringing the future faster while answering the warfighter’s demands for integrated, multi-domain capabilities.
 

A B-52 from Barksdale Air Force Base, La. sits on the ramp at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. on July 30, 2019. Aircrew brought the 53rd Wing bombers to allow wing personnel an opportunity to see one of their geographically separated aircraft up close. (Army photograph by Sgt. Michael Parnell)