21st Space Wing

21st Space Wing

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= 21st Space Wing

dates= November 15, 1952
country= United States
branch= United States Air Force
role= Space Control
command_structure= Air Force Space Command
current_commander= Col. John "Jay" W. Raymond
garrison= Peterson AFB
"Strength and Preparedness"
* World War II: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign (1944-1945)
notable_commanders= Donald G. Cook
C. Robert Kehler

The 21st Space Wing [ [http://www.peterson.af.mil/library/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=4745 21St SW Official Site] ] is a unit of the Air Force Space Command based at Peterson Air Force Base [ [http://www.peterson.af.mil/ Peterson AFB Official Site] ] , Colorado. The unit is tasked with the operation of early missile warning and space object detection equipment around the world in support of NORAD [ [http://www.norad.mil NORAD Home Page] ] and USSTRATCOM [ [http://www.stratcom.mil/ US STRATCOMM Official Site] ] through a network of command and control units and ground based sensors operated by geographically separated units around the world.

The Wing’s services include more than 9,000 government and contractor personnel detect, track and catalog more than 14,000 catalogued man-made objects in space, from those in near-Earth orbit to objects up to 22,300 miles above the earth's surface and explores counterspace warfighting technologies in the field.


Conduct world class space superiority operations and provide unsurpassed installation support and protection while deploying Warrior Airmen.


The 21 SW operate and maintain a complex system of U.S. and foreign-based radars that detect and track ballistic missile launches, launches of new space systems, and provide data on foreign ballistic missile events through its communication and control with CMAS, TABG, CAFS, and CCAFS.

Ballistic missile warning allows the US to monitor at least 20 nations currently have nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, and the technology to deliver them over long distances, including some with the ability to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles at the United States.

The 21st Operations Group manages all operation units in the 21st Space Wing.

The Wing's ground-based radars are: a sea-launched ballistic missile or SLBM, the PAVE PAWS warning system; a Ballistic Missile Early Warning System, or BMEWS; and a Perimeter Attack Radar Characterization System, or PARCS.

SLBM warning units are the 6th SWS, Cape Cod AFS, Mass., and the 7th SWS, Beale AFB, Calif. Their mission is mainly to watch America's coasts for incoming sea-launched or intercontinental ballistic missiles, and warn NORAD and NORTHCOM.

The wing's two BMEWS radar units are the 12th Space Warning Squadron, Thule AB, and the 13th Space Warning Squadron at Clear AFS. The 21st SW also has a detachment at RAF Fylingdales, U.K., to coordinate cooperative missile warning and space surveillance with RAF counterparts.

The wing's PARCS unit is the 10th Space Warning Squadron, Cavalier AFS, N.D.

pace control

Space surveillance is a critical element of the space control mission and will be vitally important to support future theater missile operations and assured availability of U.S. space forces. As part of the space surveillance mission, the wing operates surveillance units. More than 9,500 manmade objects in orbit around the earth, ranging in size from a baseball to the International Space Station, are regularly tracked. Knowing the orbits of those objects is essential to prevent collisions when a new satellite is launched.

The 20th Space Control Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla., provides dedicated active radar space surveillance. In addition, other collateral and contributing missile warning and research radars are used to support the surveillance mission.


Besides the three major commands, the Wing directs and supports Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station (CMAFS); Thule Air Base (TABG), Greenland; Clear AFS (CAFS), Alaska, and Cape Cod AFS (CCAFS), Mass. The 21st also provides community support to 302d Airlift Wing (CANG), the 50th Space Wing, Schriever AFB, Colo and to its neighbors in the Colorado Springs area.

* 21st Maintenance Group
The 21st Maintenance Group commander is responsible for the hardware and software maintenance at 27 missile warning, space surveillance and satellite communications sensor sites, as well as supply, transportation, traffic management and precision measurement equipment laboratory support for Peterson and Schriever Air Force bases, and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.
**21st Space Communications Squadron
**Detachment 1, 21st Maintenance Group
**21st Maintenance Operations Flight
**21st Space Management Flight

* 21st Operations Group
The mission of the 21st OG as Air Force Space Command's largest, most weapon-system diverse, and geographically separated operations group is to command and control 19 units. The group provides real-time missile warning, attack assessment, and space control to the President, Secretary of Defense, JCS, combatant commands, and foreign allies. They develop future combat counterspace capabilities in support of theater campaigns.SPACE WARNING SQUADRONS
**6th Space Warning Squadron - Cape Cod AFS, Mass.
**7th Space Warning Squadron - Beale AFB, Calif.
**10th Space Warning Squadron - Cavalier AFS, N.D.
**12th Space Warning Squadron - Thule AB, Greenland
**13th Space Warning Squadron - Clear AFS, Alaska
**Royal Air Force Fylingdales - United KingdomSPACE CONTROL SQUADRONS
**4th Space Control Squadron - Holloman AFB, N.M
**Det 1, 21st Operations Group - White Sands, N.M.
**Det 2, 21st Operations Group - Diego Garcia
**Det 3, 21st Operations Group - Hickam AFB, Hawaii
**Det 4, 21st Operations Group - Moron AB, Spain
**16th Space Control Squadron - Peterson AFB, Colo.
**20th Space Control Squadron - Eglin AFB, Fla.
**20th Space Control Squadron, Det. 1 - Dahlgren, Va.
**76th Space Control Squadron - Peterson AFB, Colo.
*21st Medical Group
The 21st Medical Group commander is responsible for protecting the health and environment of the warriors who defend the United States through the control and exploitation of space, educated, train and deploy medical personnel, and provide caring and efficient primary health care to retirees and family members.

*21st Mission Support Group
The 21st MSG is made up of the people who make sure the base runs smoothly and effectively. They pay the bills, make sure the base stays secure, oversee the telephone services, keep the facilities in good condition, keep the records and take care of the well–being of all the people stationed in the Peterson Complex.
**21st Force Support Squadron [http://www.peterson.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123106714]
**21st Security Forces Squadron
**21st Civil Engineering Squadron
**21st Contracting Squadron
**21st Logistics Readiness Squadron

* 721st Mission Support Group
The 721st Mission Support Group, located at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, operates, maintains, secures, sustains, mobilizes, tests, and controls the worldwide warning and surveillance system for North America, normally referred to as the Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment (ITW/AA) weapon system. It consists of airborne, land-based and space-based systems which sense and report on all activities in air and space.
* 821st Air Base Group
The mission of the 821st Air Base Group is to operate and maintain Thule Air Base, Greenland, in support of missile warning and space surveillance operations missions. Provide security, communications, civil engineering, personnel, services, logistics and medical support to remote active duty units in a combined US, Canadian, Danish and Greenlandic environment of more than 800 military, civilian and contractor personnel.



* Established as 21 Bombardment Group (Medium) on 13 Jan 1942. : Activated on 1 Feb 1942. : Disestablished on 10 Oct 1946.
* Established as 21 Fighter-Bomber Wing on 15 Nov 1952. : Activated on 1 Jan 1953.
* Inactivated on 8 Feb 1958.
* Redesignated 21 Tactical Fighter Wing on 19 May 1958. : Activated on 1 Jul 1958. : Discontinued, and inactivated, on 18 Jun 1960.
* Redesignated 21 Composite Wing, and activated, on 6 May 1966. : Organized on 8 Jul 1966. : Redesignated: 21 Tactical Fighter Wing on 1 Oct 1979; 21 Wing on 26 Sep 1991. : Inactivated on 19 Dec 1991.
* Redesignated 21 Space Wing on 1 May 1992. : Activated on 15 May 1992.


World War II
* Bowman Field, KY, 1 Feb 1942
* Jackson AAB, MS, 6 Feb 1942
* Columbia AAB, SC, 21 Apr 1942
* Key Field, MS, 24 May 1942
* MacDill Field, FL, 24 Jun 1942-10 Oct 1943.
* Wheeler Field, TH, 21 Apr 1944
* Mokuleia Field, TH, 13 Oct 1944-9 Feb 1945
* Central Field, Iwo Jima, 26 Mar 1945
* South Field, Iwo Jima, 16 Jul 1945
* Isley Field, Saipan, 4 Dec 1945
* Northwest Field, Guam, 17 Apr-10 Oct 1946. United States Air Force
* George AFB, CA, 1 Jan 1953-26 Nov 1954
* Chambley-Bussieres Air Base, France, 12 Dec 1954-8 Feb 1958
* Misawa AB, Japan, 1 Jul 1958-18 Jun 1960
* Elmendorf AFB, AK, 8 Jul 1966-19 Dec 1991
* Peterson AFB, CO, 15 May 1992- Present

World War II

Constituted as 21st Bombardment Group (Medium) on 13 Jan 1942. Activated on 1 Feb 1942. Began training with B-25's; later converted to B-26's. Served as an operational training unit in Third AF; also flew some antisubmarine patrols over the Gulf of Mexico. Disbanded on 10 Oct 1943.

Constituted as 21st Fighter Group on 31 Mar 1944. Activated in Hawaii on 21 Apr 1944.

Assigned to Seventh Air Force and served as part of the defense force for the Hawaiian Islands. Equipped first with P-39 Airacobras, later with P-38 Lightnings, and lastly (Jan 1945) with P-51 Mustang aircraft.

Reassigned to Iwo Jima, Feb-Mar 1945. Sustained some casualties when Japanese troops attacked the group's camp on the night of 26/27 Mar 1945, but flew first combat mission the following day, bombing and strafing airfields on Haha Jima. Flew its first mission to Japan on 7 Apr, being awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation (DUC) for escorting B-29's that struck the heavily-defended Nakajima aircraft factory near Tokyo. Operations from Iwo Jima included attacking airfields that the enemy was using to launch suicide planes against the Allied forces on Okinawa; striking enemy barracks, airfields, and shipping in the Bonins and Japan; and escorting B-29 Superfortresss that bombed Japanese cities.

During the summer of 1945, the 21st Fighter Group (along with the 15th from the VII Fighter Command) was reassigned to the Twentieth Air Force, 301st Fighter Wing. The group continued its fighter sweeps against Japanese airfields and other targets, in addition to flying long-range B-29 Superfortress escort missions to Japanese cities, until the end of the war.

With the end of hostilities, the group trained, participated in aerial reviews, and served as a part of the defense force for Iwo Jima, Saipan, and Guam after the war. Re-equipped with P-47 Thunderbolts during the summer of 1946.

Inactivated on Guam on 10 Oct 1946.

Cold War

Tactical Air Command Redesignated 21st Fighter-Bomber Group. Activated at George AFB California on 1 January 1953 with three (72d, 416th and 531st) Fighter-Bomber squadrons. Assigned to Tactical Air Command. Equipped for a few months with F-51's, later with F-86's. Maintained tactical proficiency and provided air defense augmentation in the United States, Jan 1953-Nov 1954.

At George, the wing established and maintained tactical proficiency and provided air defense augmentation. In December 1954, the wing was assigned to NATO and was reassigned to Chambley-Bussieres Air Base, France.

United States Air Forces In Europe

The 21 FBW consisted of three squadrons, the 72d, 416th and 531st Fighter-Bomber Squadrons, equipped with the F-86F Sabre. Upon their arrival, the facilities at Chambley were not ready for aircraft use, and the squadrons had to deploy elsewhere. The 72d deployed to Chateauroux AB, while the 416th and 531st operated out of Toul-Rosieres AB.

After many construction delays, the wing combined its fighter squadrons at Chambley on 15 April 1955. The squadrons carried out close air support training missions with the Army, then took first place at the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) "Gunnery Meet" at Wheelus Air Base, Libya.

The 21 FBW participated in the Atomic Warfare exercise Carte Blanche, and went on to take an overall second place in the Nellis AFB, Nevada Gunnery Meet in 1956. Moreover, they won the USAFE Award for Tactical Proficiency for the January-June period of 1957.

In 1957, the French Government decreed that all nuclear weapons and delivery aircraft had to be removed from French soil by July 1958. As a result, the F-86's of the 21st Fighter-Bomber Wing had to be removed from France.

During October 1957 it was announced that the 21 FBW would be inactivated on 8 February 1958, and that its assets would be dispersed among existing USAFE units. With the departure of the wing, Chambley-Bussieres AB was placed in reserve status. The 21st Fighter Wing was reactivated at Misawa AB, Japan a few months later on 1 July 1958, inheriting the lineage of the 21st FBW.

Participated in numerous actual and simulated tactical air operations and provided air defense augmentation in Japan and Korea, Jul 1958-Jun 1960.


In 1966, assumed air defense responsibility for Alaska and contiguous areas in support of North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) and Aerospace Defense Command (ADCOM) through the Alaskan NORAD Region and ADCOM Region. Provided support for multi-service special operations in Arctic regions and participated in numerous search and rescue efforts, 1966-1991. Maintained air defense and alert forces at forward operating bases in Galena and King Salmon, AK, 1977-1991. In 1978-1979 lent humanitarian support and assistance to Vietnamese refugees relocating to Canada.

The 1980s witnessed a period of growth and modernization of Elmendorf AFB. During 1982, the 21st TFW converted from F-4s to F-15s.

In 1991, the 21st Tactical Fighter Wing was reorganized as an objective wing and all the major tenant units on Elmendorf were placed under it. The 21st Wing was de-activated and the 3d Wing was reassigned from Clark Air Base to Elmendorf Air Force Base on 19 December 1991. This was in keeping Air Force's polices of retaining the oldest and most illustrious units during a period of major force reductions.

Post Cold War

The 21st Space Wing was reactivated on 15 May 1992 from the former 1st Space Wing and 3rd Space Support Wing, providing command management of Air Force Space Command's worldwide network of assigned missile warning, space surveillance, and communications units.

ee also

* Twentieth Air Force
* 301st Fighter Wing

ource and references

* [https://www.peterson.af.mil/21sw/index.htm 21st Space Wing website]

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