The Weapons School traces its roots to the Aircraft Gunnery School established in 1949 at what would eventually become Nellis AFB, NV. This organization brought together a cadre of World War II combat veterans dedicated to teaching the next generation of pilots. The Gunnery School converted to combat crew training to meet the needs of the Korean War. In January 1954, the school assumed the mission of training fighter instructors and took on the title, "USAF Fighter Weapons School." Students at Nellis trained in a variety of fighter aircraft from the '50s through the '70s.
The 1980s ushered in a time of significant change for the Weapons School. In 1984, the Weapons School expanded its courses beyond the traditional fighter aircrew, adding a course to train weapons controllers. The school gained a Fighter Intelligence Officers Course in 1988, which became the graduate patch-awarding Intelligence Division in 1990.
With the stand-up of Air Combat Command (ACC) in 1992, the school embarked on a dramatic shift from its 43-year focus exclusively on fighter aviation, dropping "fighter" from its title and becoming the "United States Air Force Weapons School." The change was much more than symbolic with the activation of the B-52 and B-1 Divisions that year.
In 1993, USAF leadership assigned C-130s from Air Mobility Command (AMC) to ACC, and ACC directed the C-130 community to create their own Weapons Instructor Course. It took some time to build the syllabus; the initial cadre validated the new C-130 course in 1995. That same year, rescue helicopters joined the school with HH-60 Division. That year also saw the addition of RC-135 and EC-130 courses to the CCO Division.
To increase the graduate-level understanding of space and air integration for operators, the school added the Space Division in 1996 - the same year the C-130 WIC had its first students. With a growing need for weapons officers skilled at integrating all aspects of land, air, space and cyber superiority, the Weapons School has continued to expand. By 1997, C-130s moved back to AMC, but the C-130 WIC retained the accreditation they earned under ACC.
The year 2000, saw the addition of the E-8 to the CCO Division as well as Special Operations Forces (SOF) instituting courses for the MH-53 and AC-130. Stealth technology joined the school in 2002 with the addition of the F-117 and B-2 Divisions. SOF added an MC-130 course that year as well.
In 2003, all of the Weapons School divisions were re-designated as squadrons and the Intelligence Sensor WIC was added to provide graduate-level training in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance integration. It was during this time that AMC activated the Mobilty Weapons School and used the C-130 WIC as a model for the C-17 and Tanker WICs, but that was not to last. In 2006, the USAF Weapons School merged with the Mobility Weapons School, adding the C-130, KC-135, and C-17 WICs to a single, United States Air Force Weapons School.
In 2008, the Weapons School added the F-22 and MQ-1/9 WICs. In 2009, the school added the ICBM WIC and the Cyber Warfare WIC in 2012. Also in 2012, the Joint Terminal Attack Controller Advanced Instructor Course began, which officially became a Weapons Instructor Course in 2015. In 2015, an ARC-only detachment of the 29th Weapons Squadron began teaching the first class of C-130H students at Rosecrans ANGB in St. Joseph, MO. Rosecrans is still a unique unit in the Weapons School, but the Weapons School continues to evolve. Changes in 2017 included both HC-130J and F-35A WICs.
The 70-year tradition of excellence associated with the USAF Weapons School continues even today. Our graduates continue to help transform and inspire our nation's combat power.
Every six months, the Weapons School graduates approximately 100 Weapons Officers; the C-130H WIC has a capacity to graduate up to 12 ARC C-130H Weapons Officers each year.
The Weapons School teaches graduate-level instructor courses that provide the world's most advanced training in weapons and tactics employment. During the C-130H course, students receive 335 hours of graduate-level academics, perform three formal briefings, write a graduate-level research paper and conduct 394 hours of mission planning and debrief for 23 demanding combat training missions.
The goal of the course is to train students to be experts in tactical airlift while also learning the art of integrated battle-space dominance. This abilty creates such a complete overmatch in combat power - in any domain of conflict - that adversaries have no choice but to submit or capitulate. Using an integrated approach mean that C-130H Weapons School graduates are extensively familiar not only with the C-130H but also with how the C-130J, C-17, and other USAF and DOD assets can be employed in concert to achieve synergistic effects.
The culmination of the course is the Weapons School Integration (WSINT) phase in which all assets combine in advanced, challenging scenarios simulating current and future threats. Students demonstrate their ability to lead and instruct while effectively integrating multiple weapons systems across the land, air, space and cyber domains.
Upon graduation, the new Weapons Officers return to the field to serve as their squadron's Chief of Tactics, leading combat missions and providing senior leaders tactical, operational and strategic decision suppport.