Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida –
Members of the 479th Flying Training Group graduated their 3,000th combat systems officer June 17, 2022, at the National Naval Aviation Museum Naval Air Station-Pensacola, Florida.
Number 3,000 comes after 11 years, two months, and two days of training at NAS-Pensacola. Back in April 2011, all students received identical training.
CSO training today now involves a diverse set of specialties including electronic warfare, sensor operations, navigation and weapons employment. The Air Force began the next evolution of CSO training when it activated the 479th FTG Oct. 2, 2009. At the time, then Col. Jacqueline Van Ovost, 12th Flying Training Wing commander, (now Gen. Van Ovost, commander of U.S. Transportation Command) unfurled the unit flag and handed command to Col. Travis Willis during a ceremony at the National Museum of Naval Aviation.
“The capabilities have drastically changed since 2011, CSOs now complete rigorous academics, multiple simulators, and fly across two platforms to graduate and receive their wings,” said Col. William O’Brien, 479th Flying Training Group commander. “The term CSO has been continuously remolded and is now clearly defined. CSOs are United States Air Force integrators of electromagnetic spectrum, sensor, and weapon operations. They are humans-on-the-loop synchronizing diverse technologies; ingrained with the inherent skills to sense, target, and attack from the air, the eyes and ears in the sky.”
Each year about 300 CSOs receive their silver wings in a graduation ceremony at the museum. The graduates receive fundamental and specialized training that lasts about 12 months.
“CSOs are leaders with an extraordinary ability to abstract environmental information and apply high-tech systems on an increasingly complex battlefield,” said Col. Scott Rowe, 12th FTW commander. “Graduating 3,000 CSOs is a milestone worth celebrating and we know that CSOs will remain an integral part of every battlespace in future conflicts.
The 2009 ceremony to activate the group, marked the return to active service of the 479th FTG, which had been inactive since July 2007 when its undergraduate pilot and introduction to fighter fundamentals training ended at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, also as a result of BRAC 2005. The group stood up its three subordinate squadrons: 479th Operations Support Squadron, 451st and 455th Flying Training Squadrons during the ceremony. Today the group has grown to four squadrons, to include the 479thStudent Squadron.