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53d Electronic Warfare Group Air Combat Command.png
53d Electronic Warfare Group Patch
Active 1941–1944; 1947-1949; 1952–1982; 1982-1991; 1993—1998; 1998present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Motto(s) Victoria per Observatiam (Victory through Observation)[1]
Follow Me.[2]
Engagements American Theater of World War II Mediterranean Theater of Operations
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award

The 53d Electronic Warfare Group (53 EWG) is a component unit of the 53d Wing of the Air Force Warfare Center, Air Combat Command, headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

The 53 EWG is a non-flying unit responsible for providing operational, technical and maintenance electronic warfare expertise for the CAF and for systems engineering, testing, evaluation, tactics development, employment, capability and technology assessment. This includes the wartime responsibility for emergency reprogramming and dissemination of EW system mission data software for CAF aircraft. The group manages the Combat Shield Electronic Warfare Assessment Program for CAF aircraft EW systems. Combat Shield provides operational units a system-specific capability assessment for their radar warning receivers, electronic attack pods, and integrated EW systems.

Established in 1941, the unit traces its lineage and heritage the 68th Strategic Reconnaissance Group; the 68th Air Refueling Group; the 68th Bombardment Wing, Heavy, and the 68th Electronic Combat Group



World War II

Emblem of the 68th Strategic Reconnaissance Group

The group was first established as the 68th Observation Group in 1941 at Brownwood Army Air Field, Texas, on 1 September 1941. Its primary mission was observation aircraft training and antisubmarine patrols. The group moved to several different U.S. locations in preparation for overseas deployment in 1942.

It moved to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations (MTO), October–November 1942, and became part of Twelfth Air Force. Shortly after the group began operations most of its squadrons were detached for separate duty in order to carry out diverse activities over a wide area. Operating from bases in North Africa until November 1943, the group, or elements of the group, engaged in patrolling the Mediterranean; strafing trucks, tanks, gun positions, and supply dumps to support ground troops in Tunisia; training fighter pilots and replacement crews; and flying photographic and visual reconnaissance missions in Tunisia, Sicily, and Italy to provide information needed to adjust artillery fire.

The group moved to Italy and became part of Fifteenth Air Force in November 1943. It continued visual and photographic reconnaissance and began flying weather reconnaissance missions in Italy, France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, and the Balkans. Also engaged in electronic-countermeasure activities, investigating radar equipment captured from the enemy, flying ferret missions along the coasts of Italy and southern France, and accompanying bomber formations to detect approaching enemy fighters. Inactivated in 1944,

Strategic reconnaissance

The unit trained in the Reserve as the 68th Reconnaissance Group at Hamilton Field (later Hamilton AFB), California between, 1947–1949, when it was inactivated as a result of Continental Air Command's reorganization of its flying units under the Wing Base (Hobson) plan and its personnel transferred to units of the 349th Troop Carrier Wing.[3]

The 68th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing was activated by Strategic Air Command (SAC) on 10 October 1951, with an initial cadre of 16 people from the 44th Bombardment Wing. The group was assigned as a subordinate unit to the new wing at Lake Charles AFB, Louisiana. The wing was assigned to the 37th Air Division of Second Air Force. The group was activated as the 68th Strategic Reconnaissance Group, but it was a paper unit, with token personnel assigned on additional duty to keep it active and with its flying squadrons controlled by the wing. Support organizations for the wing were also activated, but they were located at Lockbourne AFB, Ohio and were not controlled by the wing.

It was not until May 1952 that the wing received Boeing RB-29 Superfortress aircraft. Its primary mission was gathering intelligence on the Soviet Union. In June the group was discontinued entirely. Under SAC's new Dual Deputate organization,[4] squadrons all flying and maintenance squadrons were directly assigned to the wing, so no operational group element was needed. It added a Boeing KC-97 refueling mission in November 1953.

Strategic bombardment

Patch of the 68th Bombardment Wing

Medium Bomber era

The wing replaced its propeller-driven RB-29s with new Boeing B-47E Stratojet swept-wing medium bombers in October 1953 and was redesignated as the 68th Bombardment Wing. The B-47 was capable of flying at high subsonic speeds and primarily designed for penetrating the airspace of the Soviet Union. Becoming operationally ready with the B-47 in May 1954, the wing conducted strategic bombardment training and air refueling to meet SAC's global commitments. The wing performed REFLEX deployments to RAF Fairford, England from 14 June to 7 August 1954 and to RAF Brize Norton, England from 27 September 1957 to 8 January 1958. The B-47s were reaching the end of their operational lifetime in the late 1950s, and the wing's aircraft were sent to Davis-Monthan AFB in April 1963 with the closure of Chennault AFB. With the closing of Chennault, and in order to retain the lineage of 379th, Headquarters SAC received authority from Headquarters USAF to move the 68th without personnel or equipment to Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina on 15 April where it replaced the 4241st Strategic Wing, which could not carry a permanent history or lineage[5]

Heavy Bombardment era

Patch of the 4241st Strategic Wing

4241st Strategic Wing

SAC had organized the 4241st Strategic Wing (SW) at Seymour Johnson on 1 October 1958[6] and assigned it to Second Air Force as part of SAC's plan to disperse its Boeing B-52 Stratofortress heavy bombers over a larger number of bases, thus making it more difficult for the Soviet Union to knock out the entire fleet with a surprise first strike. The wing remained a headquarters only until 1 December 1959 when the 911th Air Refueling Squadron, flying Boeing KC-135 Stratotankers, three maintenance squadrons, and a squadron to provide security for special weapons were activated and assigned to the wing.[6]

On 5 January 1959 the 73d Bombardment Squadron (BS), consisting of 15 Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses moved to Seymour Johnson from Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico where it had been one of the three squadrons of the 72d Bombardment Wing and the wing was transferred from Second Air Force to the 822d Air Division. The wing was fully organized at the start of May when the 53d Aviation Depot Squadron moved from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana to oversee the wing's special weapons. Half of the wing's aircraft were maintained on fifteen minute alert, fully fueled, armed, and ready for combat. The 4039th (and later the 416th) continued to maintain an alert commitment until the end of the Cold War. In 1962, the wing's bombers began to be equipped with the GAM-77 Hound Dog and the GAM-72 Quail air-launched cruise missiles, The 4134th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron was activated in November to maintain these missiles.

68th Bombardment Wing, Heavy When the 68th replaced the 4341st SW[7] the 53d Munitions Maintenance Squadron and the 911th Air Refueling Squadron were reassigned to the 68th. The 4241st's maintenance and security squadrons were replaced by ones with the 68th numerical designation. Each of the new units assumed the personnel, equipment, and mission of its predecessor.

The wing continued to conduct strategic bombardment training and global refueling operations to meet SAC commitments. Wing aircraft, most aircrews and maintenance personnel, and other support personnel were loaned to other SAC units for combat operations in Southeast Asia, 27 May 1972 – 15 July 1973.

Air refueling

Emblem of the 68th Air Refueling Wing

In 1982 the B-52G's of the wing were retired and the 68th Wing became the 68th Air Refueling Group. Elevated back to wing status in 1986, the 68 ARW participated in combat operations in Grenada (Operation Urgent Fury) in October 1983, in Libya (Operation Eldorado Canyon) in April 1986, and in Panama (Operation Just Cause) in December 1989. It deployed to Spain to provide airlift and air refueling during Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm from August 1990 to March 1991.

The 68th Air Refueling Wing was inactivated on 22 April 1991, as part of the post Cold War drawdown of USAF strategic forces.

Modern era

Emblem of the 68th Electronic Warfare Group

The group was activated again on 15 April 1993 as the 68th Electronic Combat Group. It provided operational and technical electronic combat expertise for US combat air forces from 1993 to 1998 when it was inactivated and replaced by the 53d Electronic Warfare Group due to USAF policy that groups carry the same number as their parent wing.[8] Two years later USAF once again acted to preserve this historic unit by consolidating it with the organization that had replaced it.[9] The group performed electronic warfare (EW) technology assessments; tested, developed, managed, and maintained EW systems hardware and software to meet Combat Air Force (CAF) mission requirements, since 1998.


68th Electronic Combat Group

  • Constituted as 68th Observation Group on 21 August 1941
Activated on 1 September 1941
Redesignated 68th Reconnaissance Group on 31 May 1943
Redesignated 68th Tactical Reconnaissance Group on 13 November 1943
Disbanded on 15 June 1944
  • Reconstituted and redesignated 68th Reconnaissance Group, on 10 March 1947
Activated in the Reserve on 9 April 1947
Inactivated on 27 June 1949
  • Redesignated 68th Strategic Reconnaissance Group, Medium on 4 October 1951
Activated on 10 October 1951
Inactivated on 16 June 1952
  • Redesignated 68th Air Refueling Group, Heavy on 17 March 1982
Activated on 30 September 1982
  • Consolidated with the 68th Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 1 October 1982
Redesignated 68th Air Refueling Wing, Heavy on 1 October 1986
Inactivated on 22 April 1991
  • Redesignated 68th Electronic Combat Group on 9 April 1993
Activated on 15 April 1993
Inactivated on 20 November 1998
  • Consolidated with the 53d Electronic Warfare Group on 25 July 2000 as the 53d Electronic Warfare Group[9]

68th Bombardment Wing

  • Constituted as 68th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, Medium on on 4 October 1951
Activated on 10 October 1951
Redesignated 68th Bombardment Wing, Medium on 16 June 1952
Redesignated: 68th Bombardment Wing, Heavy on 15 April 1963
Organized on 15 April 1963
Inactivated on 30 September 1982
  • Consolidated with the 68th Air Refueling Group on 1 October 1982 as the 68th Air Refueling Group[9]

53d Electronic Warfare Group

  • Constituted on 1 November 1998 as 53d Electronic Warfare Group
Activated on 20 November 1998
  • Consolidated with the 68th Electronic Warfare Group on 25 July 2000
Consolidated group retains designation 53d Electronic Warfare Group[9]


68th Group, 1941–1952

  • 3d Air Support Command, 1 September 1941
  • Third Air Force, 17 March 1942
  • III Ground Air Support Command, 19 May 1942
Attached to 3d Demonstration Air Task Force [Provisional], c. 12 June 1942-unkn
VIII Ground Air Support Command, c. 18–22 June 1942
  • VIII Ground Air Support Command, 23 June 1942
  • III Ground Air Support Command, c. 4 June 1942
  • Third Air Force, 21 August 1942
  • III Ground Air Support Command, 24 August 1942
  • XII Air Support Command, c. 18 October 1942 (attached to 5th Bombardment Wing after 31 October 1942)

68th Wing, 1951–1982

Consolidated Organization


68th Group, 1941–1952

68th Wing, 1951–1982

  • 68th Air Base Group (later 68th Combat Support Group): 14 February 1952 - 28 May 1952, 15 June 1960 - 15 April 1963
  • 68th Maintenance & Supply Group: 10 October 1951 – 16 June 1952
  • 68th Strategic Reconnaissance Group: 10 October 1951 – 16 June 1952
  • 24th Strategic Reconnaissance, Photographic (later, 24th Bombardment) Squadron: attached 10 October 1951 – 15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952 – 16 January 1953
  • 51st Strategic Reconnaissance, Photographic (later, 51st Bombardment) Squadron: attached 10 October 1951 – 15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952 – 30 September 1982
  • 52d Strategic Reconnaissance, Photographic (later, 52d Bombardment) Squadron: attached 10 October 1951 – 15 June 1952, assigned 16 June 1952 – 15 April 1963
  • 68th Air Refueling Squadron: attached 8 April – 28 May 1952; assigned 25 November 1953 – 3 September 1957
  • 656th Bombardment Squadron: 16 January 1953 – 15 April 1963
  • 657th Bombardment Squadron: 1 December 1958 – 1 January 1962
  • 911th Air Refueling Squadron: 15 April 1963 – 30 September 1982
  • 32d Munitions Maintenance Squadron: 1 July 1960 - 15 April 1963
  • 53d Munitions Maintenance Squadron: 15 April 1963 - 30 September 1972
  • 68th Medical Squadron (later 68th Medical Group, 68th Tactical Hospital): 10 October 1951 – 15 February 1952, 16 June 1952 -1 December 1958
  • 68th Airborne Missile Maintenance Squadron: 1 February 1963 - 30 June 1974
  • 68th Armament & Electronics Maintenance Squadron (later 68th Avionics Maintenance Squadron): 16 June 1952 - 30 September 1982
  • 68th Maintenance Squadron (later 68th Field Maintenance Squadron, 68th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron): 16 June 1952 - 1 April 1991
  • 68th Munitions Maintenance Squadron, 1 October 1972 - 30 September 1982
  • 68th Periodic Maintenance Squadron (later 68th Organizational Maintenance Squadron): 16 June 1952 - 30 September 1982
  • 4068th Armament & Electronics Maintenance Squadron: 10 October 1951 - 16 June 1952
  • 4068th Organizational Maintenance Squadron: 10 October 1951 - 16 June 1952

Consolidated organization

  • 16th Test (later, 16th Electronic Warfare) Squadron: 15 April 1993 – 20 November 1998; since 20 November 1998
  • 36th Engineering and Test (later, 36th Electronic Warfare) Squadron: 15 April 1993 – 20 November 1998; since 20 November 1998
  • 51st Bombardment Squadron: 30 September – 1 October 1982
  • 68th Test Support (later, 68th Electronic Warfare) Squadron: 15 April 1993 – 20 November 1998; since 20 November 1998
  • 87th Electronic Warfare Aggressor Squadron: 15 April 1993 – 1 July 1997
  • 344th Air Refueling Squadron: 1 October 1986 – 22 April 1991
  • 453d Electronic Warfare Squadron: -Present
  • 513th Electronic Warfare Squadron: since 1 April 2010
  • 911th Air Refueling Squadron: 30 September 1982 – 22 April 1991.


  • Brownwood Army Air Field, Texas, 1 September 1941
  • New Orleans AAB, Louisiana, 17 December 1941
  • Daniel Field, Georgia, 8 February 1942
  • Smith Reynolds Airport, North Carolina, 9 July 1942
  • Morris Field, North Carolina, c. 17 August – 18 October 1942
  • Casablanca Airfield, French Morocco November 1942
  • Oujda Airfield, French Morocco c. November 1942
  • Berrechid Airfield, French Morocco 24 March 1943
  • Berteaux Airfield, Algeria 5 September 1943


68th Group

1941–1952: O-38, 1941–1942; O-46, 1941–1942; O-47, 1941–1942; O-49, 1941–1942; YO-50, 1941–1942; O-52, 1941–1942; O-57, 1941–1942; O-58, 1941–1942; O-59, 1941–1942; A-20, 1942–1943; DB-7, 1942; L-4, 1942; O-43, 1942; P-39, 1942–1943; P-40, 1942–1943; P-43, 1942; A-36, 1943; B-17, 1943–1944; P-38, 1943; P-38/F-4, 1943; P-51, 1943; P-51/F-6, 1943; Spitfire, 1943. A-6, 1947–1949; A-7, 1947–1949; A-11, 1947–1949.

68th Wing

1951–1982: B-29, 1952–1953; B-47, 1953–1963; KC-97, 1953–1957; B-52, 1963–1972, 1973–1982; KC-135, 1963–1972; 1973–1985.

Consolidated organization: KC-10, 1982–1991; KC-135, 1982–1991. None, 1993–1998

See also



  1. 68th Reconnaissance Group. Maurer, Maurer, ed (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 135–136. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. LCCN 61060979. 
  2. 68th Bombardment Wing Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). Air Force Combat Wings, Lineage & Honors Histories 1947-1977. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 107–109. ISBN 0-912799-12-9. 
  3. See Maurer, Combat Units, pp. 135-136 and Ravenstein, pp. 184-185
  4. Under this plan flying [and missile] squadrons reported to the wing Deputy Commander for Operations and maintenance squadrons reported to the wing Deputy Commander for Maintenance
  5. Ravenstein, Charles A. (1984). A Guide to Air Force Lineage and Honors (2d, Revised ed.). Maxwell AFB, AL: USAF Historical Research Center. p. 12. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Mueller, Robert (1989). Air Force Bases, Vol. I, Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982. Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 521–526. ISBN 0-912799-53-6. 
  7. The 68th Wing continued, through temporary bestowal, the history, and honors of the World War II 68th Reconnaissance Group. It was also entitled to retain the honors (but not the history or lineage) of the 4341st. This temporary bestowal ended when the wing and group were consolidated into a single unit.
  8. See Air Force Instruction 38-101 Manpower and Organization 16 March 2005
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 Robertson, Patsy, 53d Electronic Warfare Group Factsheet 3/2/2009 (retrieved April 24, 2013)


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