59th Test and Evaluation Squadron
|59th Test and Evaluation Squadron|
A 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron F-22 pilot, conducts a pre-flight inspection
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Role||Test and Evaluation|
|Part of||53d Test Management Group|
|Garrison/HQ||Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada|
|Emblem of the 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron|
The 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron is responsible for the management of A-10, F-15C/E, F-16, F-22, F-35, HH-60, HC-130J and Guardian Angel weapon system testing including force development evaluations, tactics development and evaluations, and software evaluations. Squadron personnel direct operational test planning and execution, as well as data gathering, analyzing, and reporting for the above systems operated by the CAF. Additionally, the squadron manages OT&E of weapons and support systems in order to improve current and future U.S. Air Force combat capabilities.
World War II
The squadron was constituted as the 59th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940 and activated on 15 January 1941 at Mitchel Field, New York as part of the 33d Pursuit Group. The squadron trained on the Bell P-39 Airacobra but soon switched to the more modern Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. After the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December resulted in the American entry into World War II, the squadron was moved to various bases to provide air defense for the East Coast, relocating to Groton Airport in Connecticut on 7 December, Martin State Airport in Maryland on 15 December, and finally to Philadelphia Airport on 10 May 1942. Five days after moving to Philadelphia, the squadron was redesignated the 59th Fighter Squadron when all Air Force pursuit units became fighter units, and between May and June it was temporarily stationed at Paine Field in Washington to provide air defense on the West Coast.
On 12 October, the squadron and the 33rd Fighter Group left Philadelphia for loading aboard the escort carrier USS Chenango for Operation Torch, the Anglo-American invasion of North Africa, which began on 8 November. Two days later, the squadron flew into the French Port Lyautey Airfield, relocating to Casablanca on 17 November. It operated with Twelfth Air Force in the Mediterranean theater until February 1944, providing close air support for ground forces, and bombing and strafing personnel concentrations, port installations, fuel dumps, bridges, highways, and rail lines. Took part in the reduction of Pantelleria and flew patrol missions while Allied troops landed after surrender of the enemy's garrison. It also participated in the invasion and conquest of Sicily by supporting landings at Salerno, southern Italy, and the beachhead at Anzio.
After moving to India in February 1944, the unit trained with P-38s and P-47s. It then moved to China where it continued training and flew patrol and intercept missions. Upon returning to India in September 1944, it flew dive bombing and strafing missions in Burma until the Allied campaigns in that area had been completed.
Strategic Fighter Escort Squadron
Returned to United States in August 1947, being assigned to Strategic Air Command. Assigned administratively to Andrews Field, Maryland, then being formed operationally at Roswell Army Airfield, New Mexico on 16 August 1947 as part of Eighth Air Force. Equipped with P-51D Mustangs. In June 1948, transitioned to the first-generation F-84C Thunderjet.
Air Defense Command
Reassigned to the Air Defense Command First Air Force on 1 December 1948. With the new ADC assignment, was reassigned to Otis AFB, Massachusetts on 16 November 1948 as part of the ADC 26th Air Division. In February 1949, transitioned to F-86A Sabre day interceptor with the F-84s being sent to Republic Aircraft for refurbishment and reassignment to Air National Guard units.
Was moved to Goose Bay AFB, Labrador under Northeast Air Command on 28 October 1952, assigned to NEAC's 64th Air Division, headquartered at Pepperrell AFB. The 59th FIS first operated the F-94b all-weather night fighter interceptors with a detail assigned to Thule Air Base, subsequently the F-89 Scorpion jet interceptors from the airfield, assisting in the air defense of the region. While SAC received jurisdiction of the United States facilities at Goose AFB in 1957 with the inactivation of NEAC, Air Defense Command (ADC) took over the USAF atmospheric defense forces (including the NEAC 64th Air Division). The 59th FIS was upgraded to the F-102A Delta Dagger supersonic interceptor in 1960. It continued defensive patrols over the region.
Moved to Bergstrom AFB, Texas in 1967 and was upgraded to the McDonnell F-101B Voodoo and the F-101F operational and conversion trainer. The two-seat trainer version was equipped with dual controls, but carried the same armament as the F-101B and were fully combat-capable. Moved to Kingsley Field, Oregon in 1968 then inactivated on 31 December 1969 as part of the drawdown of ADC interceptor bases, the aircraft being passed along to the Air National Guard.
Tactical Air Command
Reactivated at Eglin AFB, Florida in 1970 and equipped with F-4 Phantom IIs. Supported the Tactical Air Warfare Center in weapon systems evaluation program tests from January–December 1973, and periodically thereafter until July 1978. Aircrews ferried F-4Es to Israel in October 1973. The 59th augmented intercept defense forces of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) beginning 1 January 1976 – 15 January 1979 and 4 January 1982 – 5 April 1982. In 1979, "The Golden Pride" traded in their last F-4s for the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. Later, they provided personnel and equipment to fly combat air patrols and air intercept missions for contingency operations in Grenada from October–November 1983, and Panama December 1989 – January 1990.
The 59th TFS did not deploy during Operations Desert Shield or Desert Storm. However, some of their personnel deployed with the 58th TFS from 26 August 1990 – 12 April 1991, to help support manning, and to provide some experience. One of the 59th's members who deployed to the Gulf was the late Captain Rhory "Hoser" Draeger, who, on 26 January 1991, shot down a MiG-23, while flying an F-15C. Personnel and aircraft continued rotations to Saudi Arabia to protect coalition assets and to ensure that Iraq complied with treaty terms. Continued deployments to Saudi Arabia, Canada, the Caribbean, South America, Jamaica, Iceland, Italy, and Puerto Rico and participated in various operations until inactivated in 1999.
Operational Test & Evaluation
Reactivated at Nellis AFB in 2004 assuming current mission.
- Constituted 59th Pursuit Squadron (Interceptor) on 20 November 1940
- Activated on 15 January 1941
- Re-designated: 59th Fighter Squadron on 15 May 1942
- Re-designated: 59th Fighter Squadron, Two Engine, on 8 February 1945
- Inactivated on 8 December 1945
- Re-designated: 59th Fighter Squadron, Single Engine, on 17 July 1946
- Activated on 20 August 1946
- Re-designated: 59th Fighter Squadron, Jet, on 14 June 1948
- Re-designated: 59th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron on 20 January 1950
- Discontinued, and inactivated, on 2 January 1967
- Activated on 30 September 1968
- Inactivated on 17 December 1969
- Re-designated: 59th Tactical Fighter Squadron on 16 March 1970
- Activated on 1 September 1970
- Re-designated 59th Fighter Squadron on 1 November 1991
- Inactivated on 15 April 1999
- Re-designated 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron on 28 October 2004
- Activated on 3 December 2004.
- Cornett, Lloyd H.; Johnson, Mildred W. (1980). A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization, 1946–1980 (PDF). Peterson AFB, CO: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (PDF) (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6. LCCN 70605402. OCLC 72556.
- Maurer, Maurer (1983) . Air Force Combat Units Of World War II (PDF). Maxwell AFB, Alabama: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-89201-092-4.
- Molesworth, Carl (2011). P-40 Warhawk vs Bf 109: MTO 1942–44. Oxford: Osprey. ISBN 978-1-84908-469-7.
- USAF Aerospace Defense Command publication, The Interceptor, January 1979 (Volume 21, Number 1).