The 96th Test Wing performs developmental test and evaluation for Air Force weapons while also providing support for all other units on Eglin Air Force Base as the installation host wing. Eglin is the Department of Defense's largest Air Force installation. Supported units include three wings, the Armament Systems Directorate, nine operating locations, five detachments and more than 25 associate units.96th Operations Group
The group conducts developmental testing and evaluation of conventional munitions, command and control systems, McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle and Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II avionics, and navigation and guidance systems.
96th Maintenance Group
The group manages and maintains 41 modified test aircraft.
96th Test Group
The group is located at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. It operates test facilities for high speed sled track testing, navigation and guidance system testing, radar signature measurements, weapon systems flight testing, and Air Force liaison for all AF programs tested at White Sands Missile Range. The group's Operating Location AA at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico is responsible for directed energy and high energy laser testing and Operating Location AC at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, performs landing gear and aircraft survivability tests.
96th Mission Support Group
The group provides fuels, supply, transportation, ground combat training, security, communication, personnel, education, family services, lodging, food service, recreation and logistics planning and deployment support to approximately 20,000 military and civilian personnel and 43,000 retirees. It also deploys combat ready forces in support of worldwide contingency operations.
96th Civil Engineer Group
The group provides engineering forces to operate and maintain the physical plant, infrastructure, facilities and systems, housing, and the environment, and maintains 11.6 million square feet of physical plant and 3,256 facilities.
96th Range Group
The group operates the Eglin Gulf Test Range, which consists of approximately 120,000 square miles of overwater airspace, covering the eastern third of the Gulf of Mexico from the Florida Panhandle to the Florida Keys. The land range covers 724 square miles and contains 70 specific test and training areas, including an approved depleted uranium test range and the only qualified air-to-ground supersonic range east of the Mississippi River.
96th Medical Group
The group manages and provides health care for 83,000 eligible beneficiaries. It operates a community-based teaching hospital with graduate level programs in family practice, general dentistry and other medical disciplines. It has deployable elements.
Media related to 96th Bombardment Group at Wikimedia Commons
The group was first activated in July 1942 at Salt Lake City Army Air Base, Utah as the 96th Bombardment Group, with the 337th, 338th, 339th and 413th Bombardment Squadrons assigned as its original components. After moving to Gowen Field, Idaho the group received its initial cadre. The group trained at various bases in the northwestern United States.
In November 1942 the group moved to Pocatello Army Air Base, Idaho, where it acted as an Operational Training Unit (OTU). OTUs were oversized parent units that provided cadres to form "satellite groups." In early 1943, the 96th relocated to Pyote Army Air Base, Texas, where it resumed its combat training. In April 1943 the group began its overseas movement. The air echelon ferried its bombers via the North Atlantic Ferry Route, while the ground echelon proceeded to the New York Port of Embarkation and sailed on the RMS Queen Elizabeth for Greenock, Scotland.
The group arrived at RAF Grafton Underwood England in May 1943, for duty with Eighth Air Force. The group was assigned to the 45th Combat Bombardment Wing of the 3d Bombardment Division. The group commenced combat operations on 14 May with an attack on Kortryk (Courtrai), after an aborted mission the previous day. The 96th moved east at the end of May to RAF Andrews Field. The 96th appears to have only carried out one mission while based at Andrews. On 29 May 1943 they took part in a raid on Rennes naval storage depot from which one B-17 failed to return. However, Eighth Air Force was not pleased with the initial performance of the Martin B-26 Marauder units assigned to it and decided to move them from their bases in north Suffolk to stations nearer the continent. As the first step in this move, the 386th Bombardment Group left its base at RAF Snetterton Heath for RAF Boxted. The 96th took the 386th's place at Snetterton Heath the following day, leaving its previous base available for the 322d Bombardment Group.
As the most conveniently reached station from 3d Air Division Headquarters at Elveden Hall, Snetterton Heath units often led to major operations carrying commanding generals. General Curtis LeMay led the Regensburg shuttle mission to North Africa flying out of this base, and the group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for withstanding severe assaults by enemy fighters. The 96th also led the 3d Division on the Schweinfurt mission of 14 October 1943. In addition, the 96th attacked shipyards, harbors, railway yards, aerodromes, oil refineries, aircraft factories, and other industrial targets in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia.
The 96th received another Distinguished Unit Citation for leading the 45th Wing a great distance through heavy clouds and intense flak to raid important aircraft component factories in Poland on 9 April 1944. Other significant targets attacked by the group included airfields at Bordeaux and Augsburg; marshalling yards at Kiel, Hamm, Brunswick, and Gdynia; aircraft factories at Chemnitz, Hanover, and Diósgyőr; oil refineries at Merseburg and Brüx, and chemical works in Wiesbaden, Ludwigshafen, and Neunkirchen.
In addition to its strategic operations, the 96th was occasionally diverted to support ground forced. These missions included bombing coastal defenses, railway bridges, gun emplacements, and field batteries in the battle area prior to and during D-Day in June 1944. It attacked enemy positions to support the breakthrough at Saint-Lô in July 1944and aided the campaign in France in August by striking roads and road junctions and by dropping supplies to the Maquis. In the early months of 1945, the group struck lines of communications supplying German armies on the western front.
After V-E Day, the 96th flew food to the Netherlands and transported redeploying personnel to French Morocco, Northern Ireland, France, and Germany. the group was programmed to move to Germany for occupation duty. However, plans were revised in September 1945. In November 1945 its aircraft were flown back to the United States or transferred to other units. Two of its squadrons were inactivated in late November and the others in mid-December. The group headquarters' remaining personnel left Snetterton Heath, sailing on the USS Lake Champlain on 12 December and arriving at Camp Kilmer New Jersey on 20 December 1945, where it was inactivated the following day.
The 96th Bombardment Group was activated as a reserve unit under Air Defense Command (ADC) on 29 May 1947 at Gunter Field, Alabama. It was initially assigned three of its World War II units, the 337th Bombardment Squadron, located at Gunter, and the 338th and 339th Bombardment Squadrons, stationed at Hawkins Field in Mississippi. In July, it added three additional squadrons, the 413th Bombardment Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi, the 546th Bombardment Squadron at Lovell Field in Tennessee, and the 547th Bombardment Squadron at Smith Reynolds Airport in North Carolina. In October, however, the two squadrons at Jackson were transferred to the 384th Bombardment Group.
At Gunter, the group conducted routine training activities under the supervision of the 476th AAF Base Unit (later the 2586th Air Force Reserve Training Center). President Truman’s reduced 1949 defense budget required reductions in the number of units in the Air Force, and the 96th Group and 2586th Center were inactivated in July 1949 and not replaced as flying operations at Gunter ceased.
The 96th Bombardment Wing was activated in November 1953 at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Wing headquarters and most of the wing components were not manned until March 1954; those components were controlled by the 96th Air Base Group, whose commander served additional duty as the 96th's wing commander. The wing soon received Boeing KC-97 Stratotankers and began air refueling operations in March 1954.
The wing began training with Boeing B-47E Stratojet swept-wing medium bombers, capable of flying at high subsonic speeds, in April 1955 in support of SAC's global commitments. It deployed to Andersen Air Force Base Guam from January through April 1957. The wing joined the 341st Bombardment Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas on 8 September 1957.
The 4th Strategic Support Squadron, a strategic airlift squadron flying Douglas C-124 Globemaster IIs, moved to Dyess from Ellsworth Air Force Base in 1957. It was assigned to the wing from September 1959 until it was inactivated in March 1961. The wing added intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear strike force when the 578th Strategic Missile Squadron, with Convair SM-65 Atlas missiles joined the wing in July 1961. The first Atlas missile went on alert in April 1962. The wing's Atlases were phased out in March 1965.
Soon after detection of Soviet missiles in Cuba, on 22 October 1962, SAC's B-47s were dispersed. Dispersing bombers carried nuclear weapons in ferrying configuration. On 24 October SAC went to DEFCON 2, placing all its combat aircraft on alert. Most dispersal bases were civilian airfields with Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard units. The B-47s were configured for execution of the Emergency War Order as soon as possible after dispersal. On 15 November, 1/6 of the dispersed B-47s were recalled to their home bases. On 21 November SAC relaxed its alert posture to DEFCON 3. its dispersed B-47s and their supporting tankers were recalled on 24 November. On 27 November SAC returned to normal alert posture.
By the early 1960s, the B-47 was being phased out of SAC's strategic arsenal. In June 1961, the 341st Bombardment Wing had been inactivated and the 96th became the single Stratojet wing at Dyess. In March 1963, two of the wing's bomber squadrons were inactivated, and by December 1963, its remaining squadron had converted to the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress. The 96th received B-52Cs from the 99th Bomb Wing from Roswell, New Mexico. In 1970 and again 1972-1973, most wing personnel and all of its aircraft and crews deployed to the Pacific in support of the War in Vietnam. During most of this time, the 96BW also supported Operation Chrome Dome missions over the North Pole in the Cold War.
From 1980, the wing's 917th Air Refueling Squadron's Boeing KC-135A Stratotanker aircraft regularly deployed to Europe, Alaska, and the Pacific to support SAC tanker task force requirements.
The 337th Bombardment Squadron became the first squadron to operate the Rockwell B-1B Lancer, after the arrival of the first aircraft in June 1985. In October 1986, B-1Bs assumed SAC Cold War alert duties for the first time. In addition, the 338th Combat Crew Training Squadron received B-1Bs in June 1992.
917th Squadron tankers provided refueling support to units involved in Operation Just Cause, the December 1989 incursion that replaced Manuel Noriega as ruler of Panama. The following August, they ferried personnel and equipment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam for further movement to Southwest Asia. In December 1990 all remaining tanker aircraft and crews, except those on alert duty, were sent to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey in support of Operation Desert Storm.
On 1 September 1991, the wing was redesignated as the 96th Wing and implemented the objective wing concept. It was relieved from assignment to SAC and assigned to Air Combat Command on 1 June 1992. Also on 1 June 1992, the 917th Squadron acquired KC-135Qs in conjunction with the drawdown of tanker operations at Beale Air Force Base, California.
When tanker squadrons were reassigned to Air Mobility Command, the 917th was reassigned to the 43d Operations Group, headquartered at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana on 30 September 1993.
On 1 October 1993 the 96th Wing inactivated, replaced by the 7th Wing, which moved without personnel or equipment due to the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission transfer of Carswell Air Force Base, Texas to the U.S. Navy . The B-1Bs of the 337th Squadron were reassigned to the 7th Wing, and the 337th absorbed the B-1s of the inactivating 338th Crew Training Squadron as part of the new wing.
The 96th Air Base Wing stood up as a non-flying organization on 15 March 1994. It assumed the mission of supporting the Air Armament Center and associate units at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
Media related to 96th Test Wing at Wikimedia Commons
The wing became the 96th Test Wing, assuming the 46th Test Wing mission, as part of the 2012 Air Force Materiel Command restructuring. It is the test and evaluation unit for Air Force air-delivered weapons, navigation and guidance systems, Command and Control systems and Air Force Special Operations Command systems.
The wing evaluates and validates of the performance of systems throughout the design, development, acquisition, and sustainment process to ensure the warfighter has technologically superior, reliable, maintainable, sustainable and safe systems. The wing performs developmental test and evaluation across the complete system life cycle for a wide variety of customers including: Air Force Systems Program Offices, the Air Force Research Laboratory, Materiel Command's logistics and product centers; major commands; other Department of Defense services and U.S. government agencies (Department of Transportation, NASA, etc.); foreign military sales; and private industry.Group
Constituted as the 96th Bombardment Group (Heavy), on 28 January 1942
Activated on 15 July 1942
Redesignated 96th Bombardment Group, Heavy on 20 August 1943
Inactivated on 21 December 1945
Redesignated 96th Bombardment Group, Very Heavy, on 13 May 1947
Activated in the reserve on 29 May 1947
Inactivated on 27 June 1949
Consolidated with the 96th Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 31 January 1984 as the 96th Bombardment Wing, Heavy
Constituted as the 96th Bombardment Wing, Medium on 6 November 1953
Activated on 18 November 1953
Redesignated 96th Strategic Aerospace Wing
on 1 April 1962
Redesignated 96th Bombardment Wing
, Heavy on 31 March 1972
Consolidated with the 96th Bombardment Group, Heavy on 31 January 1984
Redesignated 96th Wing
on 1 September 1991
Inactivated 1 October 1993
Redesignated 96th Air Base Wing and activated on 15 March 1994
Redesignated 96th Test Wing
on 18 July 2012
Second Air Force, 15 July 1942 – c. 4 April 1943
4th Bombardment Wing (later 4th Combat Bombardment Wing), c. 14 April 1943 (attached to 401st Provisional Combat Wing 6 –
19 June 1943, then 403d Provisional Combat Wing)45 Combat Bombardment Wing, 14 September 1943
3d Air Division, 18 June 1945
1st Air Division, 12 August 1945
3d Air Division, 28 September – 12 December 1945
New York Port of Embarkation, 20 – 21 December 1945
19th Bombardment Wing (later 19th Air Division), 29 May 1947 – 27 June 1949
Eighth Air Force, 18 November 1953
Fifteenth Air Force, 1 April 1955 (attached to 3d Air Division, 10 January – 7 April 1957)
819th Air Division (later 819th Strategic Aerospace Division) 3 September 1957
19th Air Division, 2 July 1966
12th Air Division, 1 July 1973
Fifteenth Air Force, 15 July 1988
Eighth Air Force, 1 September 1991 – 1 Oct 1993
Air Force Development Test Center (later Air Armament Center), 15 March 1994
Air Force Test Center, 1 October 2012 – present
Groups46th Operations Group: Attached 18 July 2012 - 1 October 2012
46th Test Group: Attached 18 July 2012 - 1 October 2012
46th Range Group: Attached 18 July 2012 - 1 October 2012
96th Operations Group: 1 September 1991 – 1 October 1993, 1 October 2012 - present
96th Logistics Group (later 96th Maintenance Group): 1 September 1991 – 1 October 1993. c. 15 March 1994 - present
96th Test Group: 1 October 2012 - present
96th Air Base Group (later 96th Combat Support Group, 96th Support Group, 96th Mission Support Group): 18 November 1953 – 12 December 1957, 25 June 1961 – 1 October 1993, 15 March 1994 – present
96th Civil Engineer Group: 15 March 1994 – present
96th Range Group: 1 October 2012 - present
Squadrons4th Strategic Support Squadron: 1 September 1959 – 15 March 1961
11th Air Refueling Squadron: attached 16 December 1957 – March 1958
96th Air Refueling Squadron: 18 November 1953 – 3 December 1957 (detached 5 October - 20 November 1954, 1 August - 14 September 1955, 18–31 January 1956, 25 June - 9 October 1956, and 10 January - 7 April 1957)
321st Air Refueling: attached 3 July - 8 November 1954
337th Bombardment Squadron: 15 July 1942 – 29 November 1945; 29 May 1947 – 27 June 1949; 18 November 1953 – 15 March 1963; 15 September 1963 – 1 September 1991
338th Bombardment Squadron (later 338th Strategic Bombardment Training Squadron, 338th Combat Crew Training Squadron): 15 July 1942 – 15 December 1945; 29 May - 8 October 1947; 18 November 1953 – 15 March 1963; 1 July 1986 – 1 September 1991
339th Bombardment Squadron: 15 July 1942 – 29 November 1945; 29 May - 8 October 1947; 18 November 1953 – 15 March 1963
380th Air Refueling Squadron: attached 8 November 1954 – 1 April 1955
413th Bombardment Squadron: 15 July 1942 – 19 December 1945; 17 July 1947 – 27 June 1949; 1 November 1958 – 1 January 1962
546th Bombardment Squadron: 16 July 1947 – 27 June 1949
547th Bombardment Squadron: 16 July 1947 – 27 June 1949
578th Strategic Missile Squadron: 1 July 1961 – 25 March 1965
917th Air Refueling Squadron: attached 1 – 14 January 1965, assigned 15 January 1965 – 1 September 1991
4018th Combat Crew Training Squadron: 15 March 1985 – 1 July 1986