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Eglin AFB is home, for now, for first-of-its-kind electronic warfare wing

A NATO E-3A aircraft leaves formation after performing mid-air refueling training over Central Europe with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard's 171st Air Refueling Wing, May 17, 2018. (SHAWN MONK/U.S. AIR FORCE)

Eglin Air Force Base is the home, at least for now, of a first-of-its-kind Air Force wing working in the electromagnetic spectrum, which stretches from radio waves to visible light and affects everything from cell phones to personal computers to advanced military technology.

According to a Friday news release from the Air Force’s Air Combat Command, the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing (350th SWW) was stood up Friday in recognition of a need for the U.S. military “to dominate the electromagnetic spectrum.”

The wing is being temporarily located at Eglin Air Force Base while the Air Force conducts a mandated environmental review for a permanent location. The Air Combat Command news release did not indicate what specific locations are under consideration as a permanent home for the wing, or whether Eglin AFB is on that list of potential locations.

According to the news release, the 350th SWW “will enable, equip and optimize fielding capabilities to give the U.S. and its allies a sustainable, competitive advantage over adversaries in the electromagnetic spectrum. The new wing will provide maintenance, operational, and technical expertise for electronic warfare in support of the combat air forces.”

Col. William Young, the wing commander, said in the news release that “competition in the electromagnetic spectrum is more important than ever before.” America’s military forces, Young noted, use the electromagnetic spectrum in both offensive and defensive postures.

“If we lose the fight in the EMS (electromagnetic spectrum), we will lose the fights in all other domains,” Young asserted. “We’re here to help make sure that doesn’t happen.” Modernizing the Air Force’s approach to electromagnetic spectrum issues will ensure that “warfighters have freedom to attack, maneuver and protect themselves at the time, place and parameters of our choosing.”

Advances in technology have created a critical need for airmen to better understand their role within the EMS, according to the Air Combat Command news release.

“The activation of the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing is the latest step the Air Force has taken to maintain our competitive advantage in electromagnetic warfare,” said Maj. Gen. Case Cunningham, United States Air Force Warfare Center commander.

The standing up of the wing also ensures all Air Force electronic warfare and EMS capabilities are consolidated at one location, the news release notes. In a move that will have an effect at Eglin, the 53rd Electronic Warfare Group, now part of the Eglin AFB-headquartered 53rd Wing, which has electronic warfare as part of its mission, will move to the 350th Spectrum Warfare Wing.

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