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50th Operations Group
Emblem of the 50th Operations Group[1]
Active 1941–1949, 1949-1951, 1953-1957, 1992–present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Garrison/HQ Schriever AFB
Motto(s) Master of the Sky (1941-1957)
Master of Space (1992-present)

World War II

American Theater
European Theater
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Cited in the Order of the Day by the Belgian Army

Navstar-2 GPS satellite controlled by the 50 OG 2d Space Operations Squadron

The 50th Operations Group (50 OG) is a component of the 50th Space Wing, assigned to the United States Air Force Space Command. The group is stationed at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

The group, designated the 50th Fighter Group during World War II, was assigned to Ninth Air Force in England, flying its first combat mission on 1 May 1944. During combat operations over Western Europe, the unit received two Distinguished Unit Citations before ending combat operations in May 1945.


The 50th Operations Group (OG) stood up at Falcon AFB 30 Jan. 1992, the same day as the 50th Space Wing. When 50th OG activated, its crews —formerly the crews of the 1002d Operations Group – monitored satellites during launch operations, maneuvered them into proper orbits and maintained their health in space.[2]

It commands and controls, executes launch and early orbit operations, and provides operational support to more than 170 satellites which support the president, the secretary of defense, federal and civilian agencies and all U.S. and allied military forces. It comprises over 1,100 active duty, reserve, and civilian professionals, and provides operational leadership, trains space operations crews and provides standardization and evaluation to more than 500 space system operators.[2]

The group's space operations centers perform 24-hour tracking, telemetry and commanding functions during launch, early-orbit and on-orbit spacecraft operations, as well as anomaly resolution and disposal.[2]

Global Positioning System (GPS)[]

The group's 2nd SOPS provides precise, three-dimensional position, velocity and timing information to military and civilian users around the globe by operating the Navstar Global Positioning System, the military's largest and the world's most widely used satellite constellation. The squadron operates and maintains the Master Control Station at Schriever AFB and a worldwide network of GPS-dedicated ground antennas and monitoring stations to provide around-the-clock command and control of the 31-satellite constellation.[2]

Assigned units[]

1st Space Operations Squadron.png
2 SOPS emblem.png
3d Space Operations Squadron.png
4th Space Operations Squadron.png

The 50 OG consists of the following squadrons:

Responsible for the Space Based Space Surveillance satellite, Advanced Technology Risk Reduction, Tactical Satellite 3 and Operationally Responsive Space 1. With SBSS and ATRR, 1 SOPS will operate the only on-orbit space-based space surveillance systems. In addition, 1 SOPS is the lead squadron for capitalizing on the operational potential of several developmental satellites as part of the Multi-Mission Satellite Operations Center with TacSat-3 providing hyperspectral imaging and ORS-1, the first satellite out of the Operationally Responsive Space initiative bringing electro-optical imaging capabilities to the war fighter[2]
{rovides precise, three-dimensional position, velocity and timing information to military and civilian users around the globe by operating the Navstar Global Positioning System, the military's largest and the world's most widely-used satellite constellation. The squadron operates and maintains the Master Control Station at Schriever AFB and a worldwide network of GPS-dedicated ground antennas and monitoring stations to provide around-the-clock command and control of the 35-satellite constellation.[2]
Conducts day-to-day command and control for the Defense Satellite Communications System providing wideband, longhaul communications capability for joint warfighters deployed around the globe. It also operates the Wideband Global SATCOM system which brings a 10-fold increase to worldwide communications capability.[2]
Responsible for day-to-day command and control, communications payload management and ground segment maintenance for the Air Force's protected Military Satellite Communications systems. The five satellite Milstar constellation, and soon the first Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite, are operated primarily by two fixed Constellation Control Stations (CCS) located on Schriever AFB and one fixed CCS on Vandenberg AFB, with an additional three mobile CCSs prepared for emergency, contingency or endurance missions. 4 SOPS provides warfighters global, secure, survivable, strategic and tactical communications during peacetime and throughout the full spectrum of conflict.[2]
  • 50th Operations Support Squadron
Responsible for implementing operations and training policy for eight 50 OG, Guard and Reserve Associate units, over 500 CMR operators and seven unique DOD satellite systems. They are also responsible for processing the daily SPADO (Space Duty Order) and maintaining crew force management records for the largest crew force in AFSPC. The Squadron implements the space weapons and tactics program and integrates new satellite and ground control programs into current operations. It manages all aspects of training and equipping 50 OG members for deployments and the training program for all assigned AFSCs within the 50 OG.[2]


For additional history, see 50th Space Wing

World War II[]

The 50th Pursuit Group was activated under the Northeast Air District at Selfridge Field, Michigan in January 1941. The group initially consisted of the Headquarters Squadron, 10th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor); 11th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) and 12th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor).[3] It trained with BT-13 Valiant and second-line P-35 Guardsman pursuit fighters at Selfridge. The squadron was reassigned to the Southeast Air District in late 1941 where after the Pearl Harbor Attack it initially flew antisubmarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico. Issued P-40 Warhawks in 1942, it became a Operational, and later Replacement Training Unit (RTU) at Key Field, Mississippi under III Fighter Command. The 50th had the following operational squadrons:

Night Fighter training unit[]

Night fighter combat over the skies of England made the USAAF aware of the need for night air defense training and tactics development. Third Air Force was ordered to develop a training program to produce pilots with night fighting skills in early 1942. The Air Defense Operational Training Unit was established on 26 March. A few days later this was renamed the Interceptor Command School. One of the units assigned to the school was the 50th Pursuit Group (Interceptor). With 10th and 313th remained as pursuit fighter training squadrons with P-40s, the 81st was given the responsibilities of night fighter training operations. In July 1942, the 81st received one B-18 Bolo and a number of modified Douglas A-20 Havocs for night fighter operations, designated P-70s. By the end of September, the Army Air Forces School of Applied Tactics (AAFSAT) Night Fighter Department (Dark) was activated and the 81st Fighter Squadron was detached from the 50th FG and placed directly under the Department for training and operations. About 20 pilots were in the first class. In October 1942, the personnel and equipment of the 81st were reassigned to the newly-formed 348th and 349th Night Fighter Squadrons, and returned to operational control of the 50th Fighter Group. The 50th FG remained a training squadron at AAFSAT until early 1944.

European Theater of Operations[]

Emblem of the 50th Fighter Group

81st Fighter Squadron P-47D Thunderbolt 42-25904 at Carentan Airfield (A-10), France, Summer 1944.

313th Fighter Squadron P-47 Thunderbolt landing at Toul/Ochey Airfield (A-96), southwest of Nancy, France in December 1944. The red nose was the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO) recognition marking carried by aircraft of the 1st Tactical Air Force, to which the 50th FG was assigned during the last seven months of the European Campaign.

Re-equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts, the group trained for operational combat missions and in April 1944, was deployed to the European Theater of Operations (ETO), being assigned to IX Fighter Command, 84th Fighter Wing, in England. The group's squadrons were given fuselage codes TS (10th), 2N (81st) and W3 (313th).

Its initial station in the UK was RAF Lymington. Lymington was a temporary airfield and a prototype for the type of temporary Advanced Landing Ground type airfield which would be built in France after D-Day, when the need advanced landing fields would become urgent as the Allied forces moved east across France and Germany. Tents were used for billeting and also for support facilities; an access road was built to the existing road infrastructure; a dump for supplies, ammunition, and gasoline drums, along with a drinkable water and minimal electrical grid for communications and station lighting. The group began operations by making a fighter sweep over France on 1 May. It engaged primarily in escort and dive-bombing missions for the next month. The 50th covered the invasion beaches during the invasion of Normandy on 6 and 7 June, and moved to its Advanced Landing Ground at Carentan, France (ALG A-10) on 25 June.

On the continent, the 50th attacked bridges, roads, vehicles, railways, trains, gun emplacements, and marshalling yards during the Battle of Normandy. It bombed targets in the Saint-Lô region in July and supported the subsequent drive across France.

The group assisted in stemming the German offensive in the Saar-Hardt area early in January 1945, engaged in the offensive that reduced the Colmar bridgehead in January and February and supported the drive that breached the Siegfried Line and resulted in the movement of Allied forces into southern Germany in March and April.

The 50th Fighter Group received a Distinguished Unit Citation for close cooperation with Seventh Army in March during the assault on the Siegfried Line. In spite of the hazards of enemy opposition and difficult weather conditions, the group struck enemy defenses and isolated battle areas by destroying bridges, communications, supply areas, and ammunition dumps.

The 50th received second Distinguished Unit Citation for a mission on 25 April 1945 when, despite intense antiaircraft fire, the group destroyed or damaged many enemy aircraft on an airfield southeast of Munich.

The group ended operations at AAF Station Giebelstadt, Germany in May 1945, and returned to the United States in August. Assigned to Second Air Force at La Junta Army Air Field, Colorado. Was programmed for deployment to Okinawa to take part in planned Invasion of Japan. Training discontinued after Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the sudden end of the Pacific War and the group was inactivated on 7 November 1945.

50th Ftr Gp

Aerial Victories Number Note
Group Hq 0
10th Fighter Squadron 11 [4]
81st Fighter Squadron 26 [5]
313th Fighter Squadron 14 [6]
Group Total 51

Cold War[]

The 50th Fighter Group was reactivated as part of the postwar United States Air Force Reserve in 1 June 1949. The group was formed at Otis AFB, Massachusetts, and was assigned to the newly-formed 50th Fighter Wing upon activation under the Wing Base (Hobson) organization plan.[7]

It trained in the Reserve between June 1949 and June 1951, being a corollary of the active duty 33d Fighter Group, using the 33d's equipment to carry out its mission. It was originally equipped with the F-51 Mustang the group's operational focus centered on keeping its aircrews well trained and ready. In January 1950, the group was redesignated 50th Fighter-Interceptor Group. Training activity included participating in portions of the 33rd Fighter-Interceptor Group's air defense missions and exercises. The group was ordered to active service on 1 June 1951 due to the Korean War, and its personnel and equipment were reassigned as replacements to active duty units. The 50th group was inactivated the next day, 2 June 1951.[7]

417th FBS at Clovis AFB, 1953 with F-86F Sabres

On 1 January 1953, the 50th Fighter-Bomber Group (FBG) was reactivated as part of the active duty Tactical Air Command. The group was reactivated following Secretary of State John Foster Dulles' promise to provide NATO with four additional tactical fighter wings to increase its defenses against the Soviet Union due to the outbreak of the Cold War.[7]

The 50th FBG initially took over second-line F-51 Mustangs of the Federalized 140th Fighter-Bomber Wing at Clovis AFB, New Mexico when the guard units returned to control of the Colorado, Utah and Wyoming Air National Guards. Operational squadrons of the 50th FBG were:

Although the 417th FS was not one of the 50th Fighter Group's original units, the squadron had been stationed with the group at AAF Giebelstadt, Germany, during the final days of World War II. Before long, the group replaced its propeller-driven Mustangs with jet-powered, F-86F Sabres. As the conversion to the F-86F continued in the spring and early summer of 1953, crews and maintenance personnel continued their training in the Sabre. Once training levels for pilots and aircrews had reached operational levels, the 50th FBG began preparations for its move to the newly-constructed Hahn Air Base, West Germany.[7]

United States Air Forces in Europe[]

North American F-86F-30-NA Sabres of the 417th Fighter-Bomber Squadron flying over Germany. Serial 52-4656 is in front.

Airmen of the 50th Field Maintenance Squadron pose in front of one of their aircraft, North American F-86H-10-NH Sabre serial 53-1451 of the 417th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, Toul-Rosières Air Base, Summer 1956

The 50th FBG deployed to Hahn on 10 August 1953, during Operation Fox Able 20. This marked the first mass flight of an entire tactical fighter wing from the United States to continental Europe. The ground echelon of the wing sailed from Galveston, Texas, to Bremerhaven, West Germany aboard the USNS General M. B. Stewart, From Bremerhaven, ground echelon moved by rail to its new home at Hahn AB, completing the journey in August 1953 and rejoined the air echelon.[7]

At Hahn Air Base, the 50th Fighter-Bomber Wing was assigned to the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), Twelfth Air Force (12th Air Force). The 50th FBW became the first tactically operational Air Force wing in Twelfth Air Force's jurisdiction.[7]

Arriving at Hahn AB, the 50th delayed unpacking all but its mission-critical cargo and put off other routine activities to participate immediately in Exercise Monte Carlo. The purpose of this staged combat employment drill was to illustrate the power and capability of the European allies' air defense forces. During the brief operation, 50th FBG's air crews flew 124 simulated aggressor combat sorties, including 52 in only four hours.[8]

In line with a stepped-up training program, which USAFE initiated in 1954, 50th FBW aircrews spent six weeks at the Wheelus Air Base range in Tripoli, Libya, to improve their air-to-air combat and ground attack skills. Demonstrating their prowess in both facets of their mission, the F-86F crews of 50th FBW flew 3,062 effective sorties in those six weeks and scored higher in both air-to-air and air-to-ground events than any other unit assigned to 12th Air Force.[8]

By 1955, USAFE had initiated an annual, command-wide aerial gunnery competition at the Wheelus Field ranges. During the first such event, held July 30, 1955, the "straight shooting" pilots of 50th FBG more than duplicated their achievements of the previous year, taking top honors in the command.[8]

While the victory at the gunnery competition was still fresh, the group began modernizing its aircraft fleet. The first of the new F-86H Sabres arrived at Hahn AB Oct. 21, 1955. Conversion continued throughout the winter of 1955 and spring of 1956, ending in May.[8]

New aircraft would not be the only change for the personnel of the 50th, however. With the conversion to the newer F-86H nearly complete on April 15, 1956, the wing began a move to Toul-Rosières Air Base, France. The 417th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, under the command of Lt. Col. Charles "Chuck" Yeager, was the first of the group's squadrons to relocate. This movement took most of the summer of that year.[9]

The Group reported it was mission-ready at Toul-Rosiere August 1. Almost immediately, USAFE chose the 50th to represent the command at the Air Force Fighter Weapons Meet at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. Personnel returned to more routine duties, training and participating in various air defense exercises. The sense of normality, however, was brief: The 50th Fighter-Bomber Group inactivated on 8 December 1957. USAFE reassigned the group's subordinate squadrons—the 10th, 81st and 417th Fighter Squadrons—directly to the wing. Similarly, the 50th Maintenance and Supply Group inactivated, and its squadrons were reassigned to the wing. Only the 50th Combat Support Group remained intact, later expanding its responsibilities to include transportation, comptroller and procurement functions.[9]

Modern era[]

The 50th OG stood up at Falcon AFB 30 Jan. 1992, the same day as the 50th Space Wing. When 50th OG activated, its crews—formerly the crews of the 1002nd OG—monitored satellites during launch operations, maneuvered them into proper orbits and maintained their health in space[10]


  • Constituted as 50th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940
Activated on 15 January 1941
Redesignated: 50th Fighter Group on 15 May 1942
Redesignated: 50th Fighter Group (Special) on 28 May 1942
Redesignated: 50th Fighter Group (Single Engine) on 21 January 1944
Inactivated on 7 November 1945
  • Activated in the Reserve on 1 June 1949**
Redesignated 50th Fighter-Interceptor Group on 1 May 1950
Ordered to active service on 1 June 1951
Inactivated on 2 June 1951
  • Redesignated 50th Fighter-Bomber Group on 15 November 1952
Activated on 1 January 1953[11]
Inactivated on 8 December 1957[12]
  • Redesignated: 50th Tactical Fighter Group on 31 July 1985[12] (remained inactive)
Redesignated: 50th Operations Group on 1 January 1992[12]
Activated on 30 January 1992[12]


Under operational control of 84th Fighter Wing, 7 April 1944

Under operational control of 64th Fighter Wing, 29 September 1944-June 1945
  • Second Air Force, 4 August – 7 November 1945
  • 50th Fighter (later, 50th Fighter-Interceptor) Wing, 1 June 1949 – 2 January 1951
  • 50th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 1 January 1953 – 8 December 1957
  • 50th Space Wing, 30 January 1992–present








Streamer PUC Army.PNG

European Theater, 13 March 1945-20 March 1945
Germany, 25 April 1945

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Streamer.jpg

1 October 1998-30 September 2000
1 October 2000-1 October 2001
1 October 2001-1 October 2002
2 October 2002-2 October 2003
1 October 2007-30 September 2009
  • Cited in the Order of the Day, Belgian Army, 6 June 1944 – 30 September 1944[12]



Notes and References[]

  1. The group uses the wing emblem with the group designation in the scroll
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 Index of Schreiver AFB Fact Sheeta
  3. Abstract, History of 50th Fighter Group, 15 Jan 1941-8 Mar 1944
  4. Newton, Wesley P., Jr. and Senning, Calvin F., (1963) USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II, USAF Historical Study No. 85, p. 533
  5. Newton & Senning, pp. 574-575
  6. Newton & Senning, p. 594
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 From Master of the Sky to Master of Space, 50th FW moves to USAFE, active duty (originally article in base newspaper, Satellite Flyer 26 Oct 2006)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 From Master of the Sky to Master of Space, 50th gets Sabres, begins tour at Hahn AB (originally article in base newspaper Satellite Flyer, 29 Nov 2006)
  9. 9.0 9.1 From Master of the Sky to Master of Space, 50th FW moves 'there and back again'(originally article in base newspaper Satellite Flyer, 13 Dec 2006)
  10. From Master of the Sky to Master of Space, 50th TFW gains new life, new mission in ultimate high ground(originally article in base newspaper Satellite Flyer, 26 Jun 2007)
  11. Lineage and Stations through 1955 are in Maurer, Maurer, ed (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 110–112. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. 
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 12.10 AFHRA Factsheet, 50th Operations Group
  13. AFHRA 50th Space Wing Factsheet

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