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53d Test and Evaluation Group
53d Wing.png
53d Wing Emblem The group uses this emblem with the group designation on the scroll
Active 1942–1947, 1955-1960, 1988–present
Country  United States
Branch Air Force
Role test and evaluation
Part of 53d Wing
Headquarters Nellis AFB
Engagements Mediterranean Theater of Operations World War II Army of Occupation
Decorations Distinguished Unit Citation
Aircraft flown
Attack A-10
Bomber B-1, B-2, B-52
Fighter F-15C & E, F-16, F-22
Multirole helicopter HH-60
Reconnaissance MQ-1, RQ-4, U-2

The 53d Test and Evaluation Group is a group of the United States Air Force. It is a part of the 53d Wing, and is headquartered at Nellis AFB, Nevada.[1] The Group was originally activated in 1942 as the 79th Pursuit Group (Interceptor), becoming the 79th Fighter Group (Single Engine) a few months later. Later that year it moved overseas to Egypt, where it was assigned to Ninth Air Force and participated in combat in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Italy until April 1945. After the end of World War II, it became part of the Army of Occupation until it was inactivated in 1947.

The group was activated again in 1955 as the 79th Fighter Group (Air Defense) as part of a program of Air Defense Command (ADC) to replace its air defense groups with fighter units with distinguished records in World War II. It provided air defense of the Great Lakes region until it was inactivated in 1960.

In 1988, Tactical Air Command activated the 4443d Test and Evaluation Group (TEG) as an operational test unit at Eglin AFB, an Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) base that was home to AFSC's Armament Center. In December 1991, as the USAF eliminated its Major Command controlled (MAJCON) four-digit units, the 79th was consolidated with the 4443d, and the combined unit was designated the 79th Test and Evaluation Group. In 1998, as a result of USAF policy that subordinate groups carry the same number as their parent wing, the 79th TEG was inactivated and replaced by the newly constituted 53d Test and Evaluation Group. In 1999, the unit moved from Eglin AFB to Nellis AFB, Less than two years later, USAF consolidated the 79th and 53d TEGs to provide one continuous history to its weapons test and evaluation group.

The unit consists of seven squadrons, two detachments, and a named flight. Its mission is to manage the flying activities of the 53d wing at Barksdale, Beale, Creech, Dyess, Edwards, Eglin, Nellis, and Whiteman Air Force bases.[1]


The group consists of seven squadrons, two direct detachments, and a named flight. These units perform tactical development, operational tests, and evaluations for Air Combat Command.[1] In addition, the group assists the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center with testing and operating the YAL-1 Airborne Laser, MQ-9, and F-35A.[1]



The group includes two detachments which are not part of the regular squadron structure:

Named flights

The group includes one named flight:

  • Combat Search and Rescue Combined Test Force – Based at Nellis AFB, the CSAR Combined Test Force currently operates the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter and Guardian Angel Weapons System in an attempt to consolidate all combat search and rescue operation efforts.[1]


World War II

79th Fighter Group Insignia[2]

The group was constituted as 79th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 13 January 1942 and activated at Dale Mabry Army Airfield, Florida on 9 February 1942, drawing its personnel from the 56th and 81st Fighter Groups.[3] its original squadrons were the 85th,[4] 86th,[5] and 87th Pursuit Squadrons.[6] The group was redesignated the 79th Fighter Group (Single Engine) in May 1942. The group trained in the United States, then moved to Egypt by sea via Brazil in October–November 1942,[3] where it became part of Ninth Air Force.[7]

The group trained with P-40 Warhawks's while moving westward in the wake of the British drive across Egypt and Libya to Tunisia.[7] Although many of the group's pilots flew combat missions with other organizations, the 79th group itself did not begin combat operations until March 1943.[7] By escorting bombers, attacking enemy shipping, and supporting ground forces, the 79th took part in the Allied operations that defeated Axis forces in North Africa, captured Pantelleria, and conquered Sicily.[7] The group was awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for its support of British Eighth Army during that period, March–August 1943.[7]

The group was assigned to Twelfth Air Force in August 1943 and continued to support the British Eighth Army by attacking troop concentrations, gun positions, bridges, roads, and rail lines in southern Italy.[7] It operated in the area of the Anzio beachhead, from January to March 1944. The group participated in the drive on Rome, from March to June 1944, and converted to P-47 Thunderbolts during that time.[7] It flew escort and strafing missions in southern France during August and September 1944, and afterward returned to Italy and engaged in interdictory and close support operations in northern Italy.[7] The group received a second DUC for numerous missions flown at minimum altitude in intense flak to help pierce the enemy line at the Santerno River in Italy in April 1945.[7]

79th Ftr Gp

Aerial Victories Number Note
Group Hq 1 [8]
85th Fighter Squadron 28 [9]
86th Fighter Squadron 26 [10]
87th Fighter Squadron 41.5 [11]
Group Total 96.5

The Group remained overseas as part of United States Air Forces in Europe after the war as part of the occupation force.[7] It was transferred, without personnel and equipment, to the US in June 1947 and inactivated on 15 July 1947.[7]

Air Defense Command

TF-102 of the 86th FIS at Youngstown MAP

The group was redesignated the 79th Fighter Group (Air Defense), assigned to ADC and activated on 18 August 1955 at Youngstown MAP, Ohio[7] as part of ADC's Project Arrow, which was designed to bring back on the active list the fighter units which had compiled memorable records in the two world wars.[12] At Youngstown, the group assumed the personnel and equipment of the 502d Air Defense Group, which was simultaneously inactivated.[13] The group provided air defense over eastern Ohio as part of 30th Air Division of ADC's Central Air Defense Force and acted as the host unit for the Air Force portion of Youngstown MAP. The 79th was assigned several support organizations to fulfill this responsibility.[14][15][16] One of the group's original componenents, the 86th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron (FIS), flying radar equipped and rocket armed North American F-86D Sabres was already stationed at Youngstown and transferred from the 502d.[17]

In September 1957 the 86th FIS traded its Sabres for Convair F-102 Delta Dagger aircraft equipped with data link for interception control through the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment system.[17] The Air Force transferred command of Youngstown MAP from ADC to Continental Air Command on 1 March 1960 and the 79th Fighter Group and its components inactivated that date.[18]


79th Test and Evaluation Group

  • Constituted as 79th Pursuit Group (Interceptor) on 13 January 1942
Activated on 9 February 1942
Redesignated 79th Fighter Group (Single Engine) in May 1942
Inactivated on 15 July 1947
  • Redesignated as 79th Fighter Group (Air Defense) on 20 June 1955
Activated on 18 August 1955
Inactivated on 1 March 1960[13]
  • Redesignated 79th Tactical Fighter Group on 31 July 1985[19] (remained inactive)
  • Redesignated 79th Test and Evaluation Group on 1 December 1991
  • Consolidated with 4443d Test and Evaluation Group on 15 December 1991
Inactivated on 20 November 1998
  • Consolidated on 25 June 2000 with 53d Test and Evaluation Group as 53d Test and Ealuation Group

4443d Test and Evaluation Group

  • Designated as 4443d Test and Evaluation Group and activated on 1 July 1988
  • Consolidated with 79th Test and Evaluation Group on 15 December 1991 as 79th Test and Evaluation Group

53d Test and Evaluation Group

  • Constituted as 53d Test and Evaluation Group and activated on 20 November 1998
  • Consolidated on 25 June 2000 with 79th Test and Evaluation Group



  • 85th Pursuit Squadron (later 85th Fighter Squadron, 4485th Test and Evaluation Squadron, 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron): 9 February 1942 – 15 July 1947, 1 August 1988 – present[25]
  • 86th Pursuit Squadron (later 86th Fighter Squadron, 86th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron): 9 February 1942 – 15 July 1947; 18 August 1955 – 1 March 1960
  • 87th Pursuit Squadron (later 87th Fighter Squadron): 9 February 1942 – 15 July 1947[26]
  • 99th Fighter Squadron: 16 October 1943 – 1 April 1944 (Attached)[27]
  • 316th Fighter Squadron: 15 March 1943 – 21 May 1943 (Attached)[28]

Support Units

  • 79th USAF Infirmary (later 79th USAF Dispensary), 18 August 1955 - 1 March 1960[14]
  • 79th Air Base Squadron, 18 August 1955 - 1 March 1960[29]
  • 79th Consolidated Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, ca. 8 July 1957 - 1 March 1960[15]
  • 79th Materiel Squadron, 18 August 1955 - 1 March 1960[16]

Test Units

Edwards AFB, California
Barksdale AFB, Louisiana
Whiteman AFB, Missouri
Nellis AFB, Nevada
  • HH-60G Combined Test Force (later Combat Rescue Combined Test Force), 1 October 2002 – present


  • Dale Mabry Field, Florida, 9 February 1942
  • Morris Field, North Carolina c. 1 May 1942
  • Hillsgrove Army Air Field, Rhode Island ca. 22 June 1942
  • Bedford Army Air Field, Massachusetts 2 July – 28 September 1942
  • Egypt 18 November 1942[32]
  • Al Amirya (Landing Ground LG-174), Egypt 19 November 1942
  • Gazala, Libya (Landing Ground LG-150), 14 January 1943[33]
  • Daraugh North Landing Ground Libya, 7 February 1943[33]
  • Castel Benito Airdrome, Libya, 27 March 1943[33]
  • Causeway Airdrome, Tunisia 13 March 1943[3]
  • Sidi El Hani Landing Ground, Tunisia, 17 April 1943[33]
  • El Haouaria Airfield, Tunisia, 2 June 1943[33]
  • Bou Grara Airfield, Tunisia, 6 June 1943[33]
  • Causeway Airdrome, Tunisia 14 June 1943[3]
  • Syracuse, Sicily, Italy 16 July 1943[33]
  • Cassibile Landing Ground, Sicily, Italy, 26 July 1943[33]
  • Palagonia Landing Ground, Sicily, Italy, 30 July 1943[33]
  • Isole Landing Ground, Sicily, Italy, 13 September 1943[33]


Awards and Campaigns

North Africa and Sicily, March 1943 - 17 August 1943
Italy, 16 April 1945 – 20 April 1945

Air Combat, EAME Theater


Southern France
Northern Apennines
Po Valley


Additionally, the group has flying hours assigned to the B-2 Spirit bomber, RQ-4 Global Hawk, and Lockheed U-2.

See also



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 USAF. "Eglin AFB 53d Test and Evaluation Group Fact Sheet" (PDF). Eglin AFB, Florida: 53d Wing, USAF. Retrieved April 3, 2009. 
  2. Apparently never officially approved. The blue stripe at top represent the sky, the heiroglyphic numbers display the group's number and the falcon headed Egyptian god, Horus is the central figure. Capt. Ragnar G. Lind, ed (1946). The Falcon: Combat History of the 79th Fighter Group, United States Army Air Forces, 1943-1945. Munich, Germany: F. Bruckmann. LCCN of Congress Control Number Library of Congress Control Number. OCLC Computer Library Center Online Computer Library Center. Retrieved February 22, 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Abstract, History of 79th Ftr Gp, activation-Aug 43. Retrieved May 13, 2012
  4. Maurer, Maurer, ed (1982) [1969]. Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. p. 295. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. 
  5. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 297-298
  6. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, pp. 299-300
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 Maurer, Maurer, ed (1983) [1961]. Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. pp. 144–145. ISBN 0-912799-02-1. 
  8. 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. 572
  9. Newton & Senning, p. 578
  10. Newton & Senning, pp. 578-579 (source says 25.99 due to one victory shared by three pilots credited as .33 to each)
  11. Newton & Senning, p. 579
  12. Buss, Lydus H.(ed), Sturm, Thomas A., Volan, Denys, and McMullen, Richard F., History of Continental Air Defense Command and Air Defense Command July to December 1955, Directorate of Historical Services, Air Defense Command, Ent AFB, CO, 1956., p.6
  13. 13.0 13.1 Cornett, Lloyd H; Johnson, Mildred W (1980). A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization, 1946 - 1980. Peterson AFB, CO: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. p. 81. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 AFHRA Factsheet, 79th Medical Wing 2/4/2010 Retrieved May 13, 2012
  15. 15.0 15.1 Cornett & Johnson, p. 137
  16. 16.0 16.1 Cornett & Johnson, p. 145
  17. 17.0 17.1 Cornett & Johnson, p. 120
  18. Abstract, History of 79th Ftr Gp, Jan-Mar 1960. Retrieved 13 May 2012
  19. Department of the Air Force/MPM Letter 648q, 31 July 1985, Subject: Reconstitution, Redesignation, and Consolidation of Selected Air Force Organizations
  20. Maurer, Combat Units, p. 425
  21. AFHRA Factsheet, 323d Air Division. Retrieved May 14, 2012
  22. 22.0 22.1 22.2 22.3 22.4 22.5 22.6 22.7 22.8 22.9 AFHRA Fact Sheet, 53d Test and Evaluation Group 3/29/2010 (retrieved Feb 23, 2012)
  23. AFHRA Factsheet, 57th Air Division. Retrieved May 14. 2012
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 Cornett & Johnson, p. 73
  25. AFHRA Fact Sheet, 85th Test and Evaluation Squadron 3/31/2008 (retrieved Feb 23, 2013)
  26. AFHRA Fact Sheet, 87th Flying Training Squadron. Retrieved May 13, 2012
  27. AFHRA Factsheet, 99th Flying Training Squadron 1/12/2009 Retrieved May 13, 2012
  28. Maurer, Combat Squadrons, p. 385
  29. See Abstract, History of 79th Air Base Squadron 1958-1959. Retrieved May 14, 2012
  30. AFHRA Fact Sheet, 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron 21/15/2010 (retrieved Feb 23, 2013)
  31. AFHRA Fact Sheet, 72d Test and Evaluation Squadron 12/20/2007 (retrieved Feb 23, 2013)
  32. located at Alexandria by 1 January 1943 Abstract, History of 79th Ftr Gp CY 1943. Retrieved May 13, 2012
  33. 33.00 33.01 33.02 33.03 33.04 33.05 33.06 33.07 33.08 33.09 33.10 33.11 33.12 Watkins, Robert A. (2009). Insignia and Aircraft Markings of the U.S. Army Air Force In World War II. Volume IV, European-African-Middle Eastern Theater of Operations. Atglen,PA: Shiffer Publishing, Ltd.. pp. 30–31. ISBN 978-0-7643-3401-6. 
  34. Abstract, History of 79th Ftr Gp, Jan 1944. Retrieved May 13, 2012 Part of the group remained behind at Madna
  35. Abstract,, History of 79th Ftr Gp, Jun 1944. Retrieved 13 May 2012 The group moved by ship.
  36. 36.0 36.1 Airfield Identivication Numbers from Johnson, 1st Lt. David C. (1988). U.S. Army Air Forces Continental Airfields (ETO) D-Day to V-E Day. Maxwell AFB, AL: Research Division, USAF Historical Research Center. 
  37. Abstract,, History of 79th Ftr Gp, Sep 1944. Retrieved May 13, 2012 The group history identifies this field as "Bron Airdrome"
  38. Abstract, History of 79th Ftr Gp, Mar 1945. Retrieved May 13, 2012
  39. Abstract, History of Hoershing AB, Nov 1946. Retrieved May 13, 2012
  40. Abstract, History of 79th Ftr Gp, Jul 1945. Retrieved May 13, 2012


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

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