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552nd Air Control Networks Squadron creates first qualification training for Mission Defense Teams

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. (AFNS) --

Recently, the 552nd Air Control Networks Squadron graduated nine students from the Air Force’s first Mission Qualification Training course for mission defense teams, qualifying these students to be operators on the Cyberspace Vulnerability Assessment/Hunter Weapon System.

“These nine Airmen are the 552nd Air Control Wing’s vanguard in cyberspace,” said Col. John Bartoli, 552nd Air Control Group commander. “While we train and maintain our readiness stateside in case of war, these nine Airmen are already fighting from home base. Because of the nature of cyberspace and the threats in that domain, their war has already begun.”

The CVA/H Weapon System consists of laptops, sensors and servers that allow Airmen to find, fix, track, target, engage and assess cyber threats. The team uses the system to defend the 552nd ACW’s two major weapon systems, the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System fleet and the Control and Reporting Centers.

Prior to creating this course, members of the 552nd ACNS mission defense team relied on ad-hoc training and hands-on experience. The creation of this course formalized the training pipeline for mission defense team cyber operators defending the AWACS and CRC systems.

Since its inception as a pathfinder in 2017, the 552nd ACNS mission defense team has led the way across the Air Force as the first mission defense team to connect their CVA/H to an aircraft. The squadron declared initial operating capability for its mission defense team in 2018 and deployed to the Red Flag training exercise in the summer of 2019.

Air Combat Command has recognized the 552nd ACNS mission defense team as a “lead mission defense team,” setting benchmarks and laying the foundation for other mission defense teams to learn from across ACC and the Air Force as a whole.