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Eglin AFB, FL

Eglin AFB, Florida is the former home of the 39th Bomb Wing and 4135th Strategic Wing. The Eglin range, managed by the 46th Test Wing, is the largest Air Force base in the free world. Located east of Pensacola, its 724 square miles of land range occupies much of the Northwest Florida panhandle. Its 101,000 square miles of air space extends over the eastern third of the Gulf of Mexico, an area extending from the panhandle to the Florida Keys. Seventeen miles of shoreline allow T&E in both a littoral environment and over a land-water interface.

For the Navy fleet user, Eglin does have disadvantages compared to Vieques. It has been significantly encroached upon, given its highly desirable coastal location. Environmental restrictions limit use of and access to some areas. Its priority access system, a typical arrangement for an RDT&E facility funded by its users, both discourages effective sharing of airspace and range resources, and in effect, rewards the higher priority, well funded but comparatively inefficient T&E user. USAF training users of Eglin have long noted this issue. For the Navy, the net effect has been the imposition of significant OM&N costs to the potential DoN fleet user.

By the end of World War II, the installation covered 510,251 acres; 429,758 acres were owned by the United States military, 78,296 were in the condemnation process, 917 acres were leased, and 1,280 acres were acquired by permit from the US Department of the Interior (USDI). Mission requirements were greatly reduced after the conclusion of World War II. Budget cutbacks and reductions in personnel affected all branches of the Armed Forces, forcing the virtual abandonment of many facilities. The advent of the Korean War and Cold War concerns resulted in the reactivation of many of these facilities. During these years, Eglin AFB continued the research, development, and testing of new weapons systems, ordnance, and aircraft.

Mission highlights include:

  • Testing of the Century Series (F100-F106) fighter and interceptor aircraft
  • Development of the guided missile research and testing range on Santa Rosa Island, primarily associated with the BOMARC missile systems
  • Testing of a variety of fighter and interceptor aircraft including P-82, P-84, YP-84, and the Canadian CF-100
  • Completion of a railroad freight line using materials salvaged from Camp Claiborne and Camp Polk, Louisiana, which had been started in 1941, using prisoners of war as labor
  • Testing of a recovered Soviet MIG 15 that had been acquired through a North Korean defector
  • Testing and development of a variety of light, medium, and heavy bombers, including the B-52 Stratofortress
  • The first operational launch of a Q-2A Firebee Jet Drone, GAM-83B Bullpup, GAM-77 Hound Dog missile series, the first pilotless launch of the QF-104 drone, and the first live launch of the Skybolt air-launched intercontinental ballistic missile.

The 20th Space Surveillance Squadron operates and maintains a space tracking radar located in the eastern portion of the Eglin land complex, at Site C-6, in support of US Space Command's surveillance mission. This unit detects, tracks, and identifies space objects, and reports to higher command.

Established as a bombing and gunnery base in the 193Os, Eglin Field became an important armaments testing facility for the Army Air Force during World War II. During the war, two projects at Eglin involved the German V-l "buzz bomb." In January 1944, Eglin became an important contributor to "Operation Crossbow," which called for the destruction of German missile launching facilities. Thousands worked around the clock for 12 days to construct a duplicate German V-l facility. Subsequent bombing runs against this copycat facility taught Army Air Forces tacticians which attack angles and weapons would prove most effective against the German launchers. Tactics learned at Eglin were effectively implemented as the Germans began launching cruise missiles against Great Britain.

Assistant Secretary of War for Air, Robert A. Lovett, returned from Britain just after commencement of the first V-l attacks and determined that the United States should have a program similar to the German missile effort. With possession of an unexploded V-l in the summer of 1944, American manufacturers quickly duplicated the jet-bomb and Eglin received its first "JB-2" for testing in the fall of 1944. With successful results, the missile was ordered into production and the Proving Ground formed a launching squadron to deploy the weapon against Japan. This unit was in place in the Philippines ready to launch American buzz bombs against Japan when the atomic bombings negated their mission.

With the sudden end of the war, the Army Air Force had several hundred JB-2s in its arsenal. On January 26, 1946, Army Air Forces created the First Experimental Guided Missiles Group to develop and test missiles at Eglin Field. In the immediate post-war years, this organization launched and evaluated the JB-2 and performed extensive work with drone aircraft.

The Climatic Laboratory Building, which could simulate climatic conditions from around the world, received its first customers in May 1947, as several aircraft entered the hangar for testing. In the following decades this facility would be used, modified, and expanded to test the reliability of numerous aircraft and missile systems.

On December 1, 1957, Eglin AFB became home to the newly established Air Proving Ground Center. At this time, the Air Research Development Command was proceeding with plans to move additional testing and evaluation of the BOMARC surface-to-air missile from Canaveral Air Force Station to Eglin's Hurlbert Field located across from Santa Rosa Island along the West Florida Gulf Coast. Preliminary planning for this move had started back in October 1955. Site construction at Hurlbert had been in progress since March 1957 and by 1958 the field hosted missile ground testing and personnel training facilities. Meanwhile, launchers were constructed so that BOMARCs could be fired into what became known as the Eglin Gulf Test Range. The first BOMARC launch from Santa Rosa Island occurred on January 15, 1959. From 1959 through 1960, the BOMARC A underwent continual testing at this site, flying against various drone aircraft. In the early 1960s testing continued with the BOMARC B model.

Designated the IM-99B, this missile underwent its inaugural service test on April 13, 1960. On March 3, 1961, an IM-99B demonstrated the ability to intercept a target at a range of over 400 miles at an altitude of over 80,000 feet. The test program for BOMARC A and B concluded in August 1963 after nearly 150 launches. BOMARC B launchings continued into the 1970s as each Air Defense Missile Squadron took turns conducting missile shoots.

As the home of the Air Force Proving Ground Center, other major missile and guided munitions programs underwent evaluation at Eglin. In 1960, Eglin-based B-52s launched prototype Hound Dog missiles and Quail decoy missiles. As America became actively engaged in Vietnam, technological advances on guided munitions were validated at Eglin.

Eglin's responsibilities were increased as on August 1, 1968, the Air Proving Ground Center was redesignated the Armament Development and Test Center. In addition to research, development, test, and evaluation functions, Eglin acquired procurement functions from the Aeronautical Systems Division located at Wright-Patterson APB, Ohio.

In October 1979, the Armament Development and Test Center was redesignated as the Armament Division of the Air Force Systems Command. In 1989 another name change designed to clarify organizational purpose occurred as the Armament Division became the Munitions Division.

The Air Armament Center, headquartered at Eglin AFB, Fla., is one of four product centers in Air Force Materiel Command. Serving as the focal point for all Air Force armaments, the center is responsible for the development, acquisition, testing, deployment and sustainment of all air-delivered weapons. The AAC applies advanced technology, engineering and programming efficiencies across the entire product life cycle to provide superior combat capability to the warfighter. The center plans, directs and conducts test and evaluation of US and allied air armament, navigation/guidance systems and command and control systems. It operates two Air Force installations, providing host support not only to Eglin, but also Kirtland AFB, N.M. The center supports the largest single base mobility commitment in the Air Force. AAC accomplishes its mission through four components - the Armament Product Directorate (Eglin), the 46th Test Wing (Eglin), the 96th Air Base Wing (Eglin) and the 377th Air Base Wing (Kirtland).

The Armament Product Directorate is the focal point for the acquisition and sustainment of the world's most superior armament products. With responsibility for program decisions throughout the system/product life cycle, the APD manages acquisition, sustainment, retirement and disposal of a diverse portfolio ranging from tactical missiles to Explosive Ordnance Disposal equipment. It engages in scientific research, system management, production, operational performance, business management, requirements definition, demilitarization services, customer and engineering support, technology planning, materiel identification, inventory distribution and field support activities.

System Program Offices within the directorate include Aerial Targets, Precision Strike Systems, Air Base Operability, Range Instrumentation, Lethal SEAD, and Munitions Handling Equipment. In addition, the directorate supports the Air-to-Air Joint Systems, Area Attack Systems, Joint Direct Attack Munition and Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile program offices. The APD accomplishes its sustainment mission through offices located at various air logistics centers including the Air Superiority Missiles and Guns and Racks SPOs at Warner-Robins ALC, Nuclear Weapons at Kelly AFB, and Air-To-Surface Munitions at Ogden ALC. The Nuclear Weapons Product Support Center located at Kirtland AFB and EOD detachment at Indian Head, Md., complete the directorate.

The 46th Test Wing is responsible for the test and evaluation (T&E) of nonnuclear munitions, electronic countermeasures, and navigation/ guidance systems for the Air Armament Center. The Wing performs the research, development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) of systems for US and international governments, the DoD and other federal and state government agencies, and private industry. The Wing also operates, maintains and manages the Eglin AFB land and water ranges, a complex exceeding 120,000 square miles.

The Wing's T&E facilities evaluate the newest generation of precise, long range, small, stealthy and autonomous systems. The McKinley Climatic Lab is an environmental chamber large enough to accommodate military (B-1 and B-2) and commercial (MD-90) aircraft. Environments ranging from -65 to +165oF with 100-mph winds, icing, clouds, rain, and snow can be created. The Guided Weapons Evaluation Facility (GWEF), the only facility of its kind in the world, can evaluate the complete spectrum (millimeter wave, laser, infrared, radio frequency and electro-optical/visible) of seekers and inertial/GPS systems. The Wing manages a 10-mile long high-speed test track through the 46th Test Group at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. This track is a national resource, accelerating test sleds to speeds approaching Mach 9.

The Wing is home to 3,926 military, civilian, and contractor personnel dedicated to ensuring USAF systems will continue to be second to none. The Wing's world class technical facilities coupled with the creative thinking of its staff produce affordable technical solutions to contemporary technical problems. To maintain its technical edge the Wing actively encourages advanced technical education for its scientists and engineers through a tuition assistance program.

The 53d Wing, located at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., serves as the focal point for the Combat Air Forces in electronic warfare, armament and avionics, chemical defense, reconnaissance, and aircrew training devices. The wing reports to the Air Warfare Center at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., a Direct Reporting Unit to Headquarters Air Combat Command. The wing is also responsible for operational testing and evaluation of new equipment and systems proposed for use by these forces. Current wing initiatives include advanced self-protection systems for combat aircraft, aircrew life support systems, aerial reconnaissance improvements, new armament and weapons delivery systems, and improved maintenance equipment and logistics support. The 53d Wing, which is comprised of three groups, numbers more than 1,800 military and civilians at 16 various locations throughout the United States.

The 53d Wing's 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron plans, executes and reports ACC's weapon system evaluation programs for bombers (B-52, B-1 and B-2) and nuclear capable fighters (F-15 and F-16). These evaluations include operational effectiveness and suitability, command and control, performance of aircraft hardware and software systems, employment tactics, and accuracy and reliability of associated precision weapons. These weapons include air-launched cruise missiles, standoff missiles, and gravity bombs. Results and conclusions support acquisition decisions and development of war plans. The unit also performs operational testing on new systems and tactics development for the B-52.

The 53d Wing's 72d Test and Evaluation Squadron at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., is the focal point for executing operational test and evaluation of the $44.6 billion B-2 weapon system. The squadron evaluates the ability of the B-2 weapons system to support all major requirements and reports weapon system capabilities to the warfighter for execution of Global Power and Global Engagement. The unit provides experienced operations, maintenance, engineering, and analysis personnel who plan and conduct ground and flight tests, and analyze, evaluate, and report on the effectiveness and suitability of the B-2 logistics support, tactics and survivability, foreign material exploitation, weapons and mission planning. Daily interaction with the host 509th Bomb Wing is accomplished to refine and enhance their combat capability. Assigned B-2 pilots are qualified to support the 509 BW during wartime missions. The squadron reports results and conclusions to support DoD deployment and employment decisions. Detachment 2 at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., conducts B-1 operational tests and evaluations, tactics development and evaluations, and foreign materiel exploitation to upgrade B-1 systems, computers and weapons, improve B-1 employment capabilities, and to develop tactical guidance for the fleet. Det. 2 also provides Headquarters US Air Force, major commands and industry with B-1 tactical and technical expertise for use in weapons development

The Eglin land range covers 724 square miles. The Gulf Test Range, with 98,000 square miles, covers most of the Gulf of Mexico. Land Ranges are cleared and essentailly level with some low rolling hills. The surrounding area features heavy vegetation, with numerous swamps, lakes, and streams. Nineteen miles of Air Force-owned beachfront property provides a unique land/sea interface with contrasting background/clutter environment especially useful for munition seeker testing. AFTDC is the only DoD range with both a water and land range for weapons testing. Both air-to-air and air-to-surface weapon tests exploit this varied topography which provides a land clutter background, a land/sea interface, and the water background of the Gulf of Mexico. Elevation is sea level to approximately 100 feet.

Central Control Facility (CCF) contains a full range of state-of-the-art computing capabilities including a Cray Y-MP supercomputer integrated into a high-speed network of DECVAX, Silicon Graphics front-end, and workstations. The CCF supports in-depth analysis and provides the capability for real-time control during simultaneous test missions.

Armament Systems Test Environment (ASTE) consists of 724 square miles of varied multi-environmental land area with 45 test areas, 34 test systems/facilities, and 26 multipurpose systems/facilities for testing and evaluation of munitions and weapons systems. The major test areas are Air-to-Ground Ranges, Gun Test Facilities, Electro-optical/Millimeter Wave (MMW) Evaluation, Fuze Test Facility, Static Warhead Test Arenas, Kinetic Energy munitions Test Facility, and Security Systems Test Facility.

Electromagnetic Test Environment (EMTE) is an extensive open-air test range providing over-land and over-water weapon effectiveness testing for munitions and electronic combat systems. Specialized testing includes chacterization and effecitiveness testing, foreign material exploitation, signature measurement, and air-to-air and air-to-ground munitions in an EC environment. The EMTE open-air test capability can be electronically linked with the simulation facilities, e.g., the PRIMES, REDCAP, and AFEWES for realistic multithreat testing.

Gulf Test Range encompasses 98,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico. This area is used for long-range, all altitude, air-to-air or surface-to-air/drone target engagements and long-range or anti-ship air-to-surface weapons evaluations. The Gulf Test Range is also used as a maneuvering area for electronic combat missions on the EMTE.

Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems (PRIMES) consists of a fighter-sized anechoic chamber and six shielded laboratories providing secure, realistic testing in a controlled RF environment to support one-on-one and many-on-one tests in static or dynamic flight simulation conditions.

Guided Weapons Evaluation Facility (GWEF) provides multispectral laboratory simulation support for developing and testing precision guided weapon technology. GWEF is the only facility of its kind among the United States or its Allies able to test the complete spectrum of weapon seekers under one roof. The GWEF and PRIMES facilities are linked with fiber optic to allow an aircraft to "fly and launch a weapon" from the PRIMES facility while the weapon engages a target in a GWEF simulated combat environment.

McKinley Climatic Laboratory is a one-of-a-kind national test resource having an almost unlimited capability to simulate climatic conditions found on the surface of the earth. Its up to 55,000-square-foot chambers can produce various combinations of temperature, humidity, rain, snow, icing conditions, salt spray, sand, dust, and solar radiation.

Air Force Electronic Warfare Evaluation Simulator (AFEWES) located at Fort Worth, Texas, provides a hardware-in-the-loop simulation capability designed to evaluate EC systems performance against terminal threat systems. AFEWES has 27 closed-loop, surface-to-air missile simulations, a reconfigurable airborne interceptor simulation, and infrared laboratory to evaluate infrared countermeasures equipment, and an open-loop Multiple Emitter Generator to evaluate radar receivers and/or power managed ECM systems.

Real-Time Digitally Controlled Analyzer Processor (REDCAP) located at Buffalo, New York, is a hybrid simulation designed to model a dense, hostile integrated air defense system. EC systems can be evaluated against hostile C3 and radar systems. The REDCAP, AFEWES, EMTE, and PRIMES can be electronically linked to provide thorough, realistic testing.

BRAC 2005

In its 2005 BRAC Recommendations, DoD recommended to close Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, PA. As a result, would relocate the Armed Forces Reserve Center Expeditionary Combat Support manpowerfollowing units from Willow Grove to Eglin AFB. This recommendation would enable Air Force Future Total Force transformation by consolidating the A-10 fleet at installations of higher military value, and would contribute to the Army's establishment of the Northeast Army Reserve Regional Readiness Command. Environmentally, the Air Force indicated a significant air permit revision might be required at Eglin as a result of this recommendation. There would be potential impacts for cultural, archeological, tribal resources; land use constraints or sensitive resource areas; noise; threatened and endangered species or critical habitat; waste management; water resources; and wetlands.

In another Recommendation, DoD recommended to establish Eglin AFB as an Initial Joint Training Site that would teach entry-level aviators and maintenance technicians how to safely operate and maintain the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) (F-35) aircraft. In order to accomplish this, DoD recommended the following realignments: realign Luke AFB, AZ, by relocating to Eglin AFB a sufficient number of instructor pilots and operations support personnel to stand up the Air Force's portion of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) Initial Joint Training Site, hereby established at Eglin AFB; realign Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, CA, by relocating to Eglin AFB a sufficient number of instructor pilots and operations support personnel to stand up the Marine Corps' portion of the Joint Strike Fighter Initial Joint Training Site, hereby established at Eglin Air Force Base; realign NAS Oceana, VA, by relocating to Eglin AFB a sufficient number of instructor pilots, operations, and maintenance support personnel to stand up the Navy's portion of the Joint Strike Fighter Initial Joint Training Site, hereby established at Eglin AFB; realign Sheppard AFB, TX, by relocating to Eglin AFB a sufficient number of front-line and instructor-qualified maintenance technicians and logistics support personnel to stand up the Air Force's portion of the Joint Strike Fighter Initial Joint Training Site, hereby established at Eglin AFB; realign NAS Pensacola, FL, by relocating to Eglin AFB a sufficient number of front-line and instructor-qualified maintenance technicians and logistics support personnel to stand up the Department of the Navy's portion of the Joint Strike Fighter Initial Joint Training Site hereby established at Eglin AFB, FL.

This recommendation would establish Eglin Air Force Base, FL as an Initial Joint Training Site that would teach entry-level aviators and maintenance technicians how to safely operate and maintain the new Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) (F-35) aircraft. The Department would be scheduled to take delivery of the F-35 beginning in 2008. This joint basing arrangement would allow the Interservice Training Review Organization (ITRO) process to establish a DoD baseline program in a consolidated/joint school with curricula that would permit services latitude to preserve service-unique culture and a faculty and staff that brings a "Train as we fight; jointly" national perspective to the learning process.

The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $199.1M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a cost of $209.6M. Annual recurring costs to the Department after implementation would be $3.3M with no payback expected. The net present value of the costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a cost of $226.3M. Environmentally, this recommendation might require a significant air permit revision for Eglin AFB. Additional operations at Eglin AFB could impact cultural, archeological, or historic sites, which would then impact operations. DoD would need to reevaluate Eglin Air Force Base noise contours as a result of the change in mission. This recommendation would require Endangered Species Act Consultation for all T&E species at Eglin. This recommendation might require modifying the hazardous waste program and on-installation water treatment works permits. Additional operations might impact wetlands at Eglin. This recommendation would require approximately $1.0M for waste management and environmental compliance activities.

DoD recommended to realign Eglin AFB by relocating Air & Space Sensors, Electronic Warfare & Electronics and Information Systems Test & Evaluation to Edwards AFB, CA. This recommendation would reduce the number of technical facilities engaged in Air & Space Sensors, Electronic Warfare, and Electronics and Information Systems RDAT&E from 6 to 2. Through this consolidation, the Department would increase efficiency of RDAT&E operations resulting, in a multi-functional center of excellence in the rapidly changing technology area of C4ISR. Assuming no economic recovery, this recommendation could result in a maximum potential reduction of 384 jobs (220 direct jobs and 164 indirect jobs) over the 2006-2011 period in the Fort Walton Beach-Crestview-Destin, FL, Metropolitan Statistical Area (0.32 percent).

Another recommendation would realign Hill AFB, UT, by relocating Weapons and Armaments In-Service Engineering Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test and Evaluation to Eglin AFB, FL. It would also realign Fort Belvoir, VA, by relocating Defense Threat Reduction Agency National Command Region conventional armament Research to Eglin Air Force Base, FL.

Eglin was one of three core integrated weapons and armaments RDAT&E centers (with China Lake, CA, and Redstone Arsenal, AL) with high MV and the largest concentration of integrated technical facilities across all three functional areas. Eglin AFB had a full spectrum array of Weapons & Armaments (W&A) Research, Development & Acquisition, and Test & Evaluation (RDAT&E) capabilities. Accordingly, relocation of Hill AFB and DTRA NCR W&A capabilities would further complement and strengthen Eglin as a full spectrum W&A RDAT&E Center. The overall impact of this recommendation would be to: increase W&A life cycle and mission related synergies/integration; increase efficiency; reduce operational costs; retain the required diversity of test environments; and facilitate multiple uses of equipment, facilities, ranges, and people. Hill AFB and DTRA NCR technical facilities recommended for relocation had lower quantitative MV than Eglin AFB in all functional areas.

This recommendation included Research, D&A, and T&E conventional armament capabilities in the Air Force and DTRA NCR. It would consolidate armament activities within the Air Force and promotes jointness with DTRA NCR. It would also enable technical synergy, and position the DoD to exploit center-of-mass scientific, technical, and acquisition expertise within the RDAT&E community that currently resides as DoD specialty locations. This recommendation would directly support the Department's strategy for transformation by moving and consolidating smaller W&A efforts into high military value integrated centers, and by leveraging synergy among RD&A, and T&E activities. Capacity and military value data established that Eglin AFB was already a full-service, integrated W&A RDAT&E center.

Relocation of W&A D&A In-Service Engineering (ISE) from Hill AFB to Eglin AFB would increase life cycle synergy and integration. ISE encompassed those engineering activities that provide for an "increase in capability" of a system/sub-system/component after Full Operational Capability has been declared. ISE activities would mesh directly with on-going RDAT&E at Eglin AFB. Relocation of DTRA NCR W&A technical capabilities would increase life cycle synergy and integration at Eglin AFB. Conventional armament capabilities possessed by DTRA NCR directly complement on-going RDAT&E at Eglin AFB. Cost savings from the relocation of DTRA NCR to Eglin AFB would accrue largely through the elimination of the need for leased space, and by virtue of the fact that Eglin AFB can absorb the DTRA NCR (and Hill AFB) functions without the need for MILCON.

The total estimated one-time cost to the Department of Defense to implement this recommendation would be $2.7M. The net of all costs and savings to the Department during the implementation period would be a savings of $4.9M. Annual recurring savings to the Department after implementation would be $1.4M with payback expected in 2 years. The net present value of the costs and savings to the Department over 20 years would be a savings of $17.9M. Environmentally, additional operations might impact archeological sites at Eglin AFB and restrict operations. Additional operations might compound the need for explosive safety waivers at Eglin AFB. Additional operations might further impact threatened and endangered species and/or critical habitats at Eglin AFB. Modification of Eglin AFB's treatment works might be necessary. This recommendation might impact wetlands at Eglin AFB. This recommendation would require spending approximately less than $0.05M for environmental compliance activities.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:47:10 ZULU