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10th Aerospace Defense Group Airdefensecommand-logo
Program 437 2.PNG
Active Squadron: 1962–1967; 1970–1979; 1992–1997
Group: 1967–1970
Country Flag of the United States.svg United States
Branch Flag of the United States Air Force.png United States Air Force
Role Air Defense
Part of Aerospace Defense Command 1962–1979
Pacific Air Forces 1992–1997
Motto(s) CAVEAT AGGRESSOR – "Aggressor Beware"
Equipment PGM-17 Thor
Decorations Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
10th Aerospace Defense Group Patch 10aeg-patch

The 10th Aerospace Defense Group is an inactive United States Air Force (USAF) organization. Its last assignment was with Fourteenth Aerospace Force at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, where it was inactivated on 31 December 1970. The 10th Aerospace Defense Group and Squadron were the sole operators of the United States' second nuclear-tipped anti-satellite weapon, Weapons System 437 (WS-437). For this reason the squadron continues the group history through temporary bestowal.

The United States Air Force's 10th Air Defense Squadron is also an inactive USAF organization, that preceded and followed the 10th group at Vandenberg as the 10th Aerospace Defense Squadron. Once WS-437 became non-operational in the 1970s, the squadron assumed the mission of launching Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites into orbit until its mission was transferred. It was later activated an air defense unit and was last located at Wheeler AFS, Hawaii from 1992 to 1997.


Space MissionEdit

Anti Satellite DefenseEdit

The 10th Aerospace Defense Squadron was activated in late 1963[1] to operate Weapons System 437, using nuclear equipped Thor missiles. The squadron was located at Vandenberg AFB, California, but launch factilites were at Johnston Island Air Force Base. Two missiles were stationed at each location.

In 1961, Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) had formed the 6595th Test Squadron to perform operational testing on the system. As the program approached operational status, AFSC transferred the 6595th to Air Defense Command (ADC)[2] in November 1962. ADC discontinued the test squadron and used its personnel and equipment to activate the 10th Aerospace Defense Squadron[3] The group replaced the squadron in 1967.[4] The Johnston Island location was upgraded to a subordinate squadron at the same time.[5]

Defense Meteorological Satellite ProgramEdit

At the end of 1970, the 10th Squadron replaced the group and the 24th Aerospace Defense Squadron. WS 437 was put into standby status with the squadron maintaining system components. The squadron then transferred its mission to support of the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP).[6][7] This mission had been performed by Strategic Air Command.[8]

The DMSP generates terrestrial and space weather data for United States operational forces worldwide. Data from this program is also furnished to the civilian community through the Department of Commerce. DMSP satellites circle the Earth at an altitude of about 500 miles in a near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit.[9] The Block 5 DMSP satellites launched during the time the squadron was active used Thor launchers (similar to those used by WS 437) to boost them into orbit.[10] In 1979, the squadron was inactivated when responsibility for the DMSP program was transferred to Space Division of AFSC.[8] Unfortunately, while the squadron was responsible for DMSP launches, "the [AFSC] program office authorized launch of the last Block 5C satellite on 19 February 1976 with incorrect weight-to-propellant-loading calculations. Launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, the Thor/Burner II booster rose majestically through the atmosphere, reached the edge of space, exhausted its propellant, and the DMSP satellite whistled back to Earth—a total loss."[11]

Air Defense in HawaiiEdit

In 1992, the 10th squadron was again activated as the 10th Air Defense Squadron, replacing the 6010th Aerospace Defense Group at Wheeler AFB when the USAF eliminated or redesignated all existing MAJCON (major command controlled) four digit units. The 6010th had been formed by upgrading the 6010th Aerospace Defense Flight in 1989 when the 327th Air Division was inctivated.[12][13]

The squadron coordinated air defense activities in Hawaii with the Hawaii Air National Guard and maintained operational control of ANG alert aircraft. The squadron supervised aircraft control and warning units within the Pacific Islands Defense Region, directing aircraft operations and defense activities from its Air Defense Control Center.[14] The squadron continued these activities until it was inactivated in 1997.

Squadron EmblemEdit

10th Aerospace Defense Squadron

10th Aerospace Defense Squadron Emblem

On a light blue triangle within a wide Air Force yellow border edged and shaded Air Force Blue, originating from top of triangle curving through center facing viewer's left an Air Force Blue scorpion, claws extended grasping 2 white missiles edged and detailed black issuing diagonally one from right base, one from left pointing to center toward scorpion. Overall ten white stars edged black placed in an inverted stylized pattern of the Scorpius constellation. At base Air Force yellow border forms a scroll inscribed "Caveat Aggressor" in red capital letters. Approved 21 Nov 1963.[15] The light blue background is the limitless sky. The ten stars placed in a Scorpius constellation formation over a scorpion alludes to a Greek mythological legend and is symbolic of deadly powers. The missiles held by the scorpion and the motto "Beware Aggressor" refer to the mission of the squadron. The colors blue and golden yellow are the Air Force colors.


10th Aerospace Defense Group

  • Constituted as the 10th Aerospace Defense Group in 1966 and activated[4] (not organized)
Organized on 1 January 1967[4]
Inactivated on 31 December 1970[4]

10th Air Defense Squadron

  • Constituted as the 10th Aerospace Defense Squadron on 24 October 1963 (not organized)
Organized on 15 November 1963
Inactivated on 1 January 1967
Activated on 31 December 1970
Inactivated 1 November 1979[1]
  • Redesignated 10th Air Defense Squadron
Activated on 1 April 1992
  • Inactivated on 30 September 1997[15]


10th Aerospace Defense Group

10th Air Defense Squadron

  • Air Defense Command 24 October 1963 (not organized until 15 November 1963)
  • 9th Aerospace Defense Division, 1 August 1964 – 1 January 1967
  • Fourteenth Aerospace Force, 31 December 1970
  • Aerospace Defense Command 1 October 1976 – 1 November 1979[1]
  • 15th Operations Group: 13 April 1992 – 30 September 1997[15]


10th Aerospace Defense Group

  • 24th Aerospace Support Squadron (later 24th Support Squadron, 24th Aerospace Defense Squadron), 1 January 1967 – 31 December 1970[5]
Stationed at Johnston Island Air Force Base


10th Aerospace Group

  • Vandenberg AFB, California: 1 January 1967 – 31 December 1970[4]

10th Air Defense Squadron

  • Vandenberg AFB, California: 15 November 1963 – 1 January 1967
  • Vandenberg AFB, California: 31 December 1970 – 1 November 1979[1]
  • Wheeler Air Force Station (later Wheeler Army Airfield), Hawaii: 13 April 1992 – 30 September 1997[15]


  • Col Charles E. Minihan, November 1963 – 1965
  • Col William H. Joyner, 30 July 1965 – 1 January 1967


Award streamer Award Dates Notes
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award StreamerAir Force Outstanding Unit Award15 November 1963-15 April 196610th Aerospace Defense Squadron[16]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award StreamerAir Force Outstanding Unit Award1 July 1966 – 1 January 196710th Aerospace Defense Squadron[16]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award StreamerAir Force Outstanding Unit Award2 January 1967 – 1 July 196810th Aerospace Defense Group[16]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award StreamerAir Force Outstanding Unit Award13 April 1992 – 30 June 199310th Air Defense Squadron[17]
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award StreamerAir Force Outstanding Unit Award1 October 1996 – 30 September 199710th Air Defense Squadron[17]




  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Cornett, Lloyd H; Johnson, Mildred W (1980). A Handbook of Aerospace Defense Organization, 1946 – 1980. Peterson AFB, CO: Office of History, Aerospace Defense Center. p. 149. 
  2. In January 1968 Air Defense Command became Aerospace Defense Command.
  3. Abstract, History 1st Strat Aerospace Div Jul–Dec 1963 (retrieved June 29, 2013). Archived 2013-07-02.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Cornett & Johnson, p. 69
  5. 5.0 5.1 Cornett & Johnson, p. 150
  6. See Abstract, History of 14th Aerospace Force, Jul–Sep 1976 (retrieved June 9, 2013)
  7. The organization's complete history is classified Secret by USAFHRA Abstract, 9th Aerospace Defense Division History July–December 1967 (S)
  8. 8.0 8.1 Hall, R. Cargill (2001). A History of the Military Polar Orbiting Meteorological Satellite Program. National Reconnaissance Office. p. 33. Archived from the original on 2013-07-02. Retrieved June 29, 2013. 
  9. Los Angeles AFS Factsheet, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program 10/1/2009 (retrieved June 29, 2013). Archived 2013-07-02.
  10. Hall, p. 24
  11. Hall, pp. 21–22
  12. Abstract, History 6010th Aerospace Defense Gp 16 Dec-31 Dec 1989 (retrieved June 29, 2013). Archived 2013-07-02.
  13. Abstract, History 15th Air Base Wing CY 1989 (retrieved June 29, 2013)
  14. Abstract, History 15th Air Base Wing CY 1992 (retrieved June 9, 2013)
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 "Bailey, Carl E., Lineage and Honors History of 10th Air Defense Squadron, 21 April 2009". Archived from the original on May 16, 2009. Retrieved May 13, 2009. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 AF Pamphlet 900-2, Unit Decorations, Awards and Campaign Participation Credits Department of the Air Force, Washington, DC, 15 Jun 71, p. 92
  17. 17.0 17.1 Air Force Awards Programs (searchable database retrieved June 9, 2013)


PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website

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