The USAF Weapons School, as it is known today, developed from a corps of World War II fighter pilots highly skilled in aerial combat. Their expertise was developed as a result of necessity and survival. In the late forties, a cadre of these self-taught experts was brought together into a desert “gunnery camp” (as they choose to call it) for the singular purpose of passing on their expertise to others for use in future combat. From that informal beginning, the USAF Fighter Gunnery School was established.
Because of heavy commitments to the Korean War effort, the USAF Fighter Gunnery School was converted to combat crew training. This mission would last through the end of 1953. Effective 1 January 1954, the school graduated its last Combat Crew Training Class and assumed, as its primary mission, the training of gunnery instructors for the USAF. On that date, the squadron received a new title–the USAF Fighter Weapons School.
During the fifties, the F-51, F-80, F-84, F-86, and F-100A would be the primary aircraft used for instruction at the school. The school transferred to the Tactical Air Command whose regime encouraged and rewarded independent thought by instructors in Academic, Operations and Training, Research, and Development. Soon after, the F-100C and F-100D entered the school inventory, providing complete mission capability.
Mid-1965 marked the beginning of another great expansion of the Fighter Weapons School. The F-4 and F-105 Fighter Weapons Instructor Courses were established. Due to the expanding scope of the school, it was converted into the 4525th Fighter Weapons Wing in 1966 and was comprised of three squadrons—F-100, F-4, and F-105. In 1969, the 4525th became the 57th Fighter Weapons Wing (FWW).
As new fighter aircraft entered the inventory, more Fighter Weapons Instructor Courses were added to the school curriculum. The F-111 entered the FWS inventory in 1971 followed in 1974 by the A-7. The first totally air-to-air school —-the F-15—- was certified in 1977. The succeeding year found the A-10 phased into the curriculum. And in 1982 the F-16 came on board.
Today the school is comprised of Weapons Instructor Courses for the A-10, B-1, B-52, F-15C, F-15E, F-16C, HH-60, Command and Control Operations, Intelligence, Special Operations Forces, and Space disciplines. The school graduates over 160 individuals per year. Graduates are experts on weapons, weapons systems, weapons system integration, and employment tactics, procedures, and techniques.