|328th Weapons Squadron|
|Branch||United States Space Force|
|Role||Space weapons school|
|Part of||Space Delta 1|
|Headquarters||Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, U.S.|
|Engagements||World War II
1991 Gulf War (Defense of Saudi Arabia; Liberation of Kuwait)
Distinguished Unit Citation (2)
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award (9)
|Commander||Lt Col Shaun Phipps|
The 328th Weapons Squadron (328 WPS) is the United States Space Force's weapons school. Assigned to Space Training and Readiness Command's Space Delta 1 and located at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, the squadron offers the Space Superiority Weapons Instructor Course and the Space Warfighter Advanced Instructor Course. Students undergo five to six months of rigorous advanced training, after which they become weapons officers, a reservoir of tactical and operational knowledge.
The squadron's origins trace back to the 328th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) activated on 28 January 1942. The 328th Bombardment Squadron received a Distinguished Unit Citation for its gallantry during the raid on the Ploiești, Romania oil refineries during August 1943. The 328th flew the Boeing B-29 Superfortress, Boeing B-47 Stratojet, Boeing B-50 Superfortress, and Boeing B-52 Stratofortress during the Cold War until its inactivation in 1994.
In 2003, the 328 WPS was turned into a weapon schools unit, offering weapons instructor courses on space superiority. With the establishment of the United States Space Force in 2019, it transferred into the new service and realigned under Space Delta 1.
The 328 WPS was one of the twenty-one squadrons at the United States Air Force Weapons School. The squadron is one of the largest squadrons within the USAF Weapons School and manages two separate syllabi: the Space Superiority Weapons Instructor Course (WIC) and the Space Warfighter Advanced Instructor Course (AIC). The squadron transferred to the United States Space Force in 2020.
To complete the 328 WPS courses, students must finish a curriculum, which includes 440 hours of academics, 10 hours of device training, 422 hours of mission planning, 48 hours of mission execution, and 24 hours of examination for a total of more than 940 hours. They also have to write a 15-20 page graduate-level paper addressing a current tactical issue and solution. After which, the course ends culminates in a block known as integration.
The process of selecting weapons school students, at least prior to the establishment of the Space Force, starts from the Air Force Space Command, which calls for nominations for interested eligible officers. The nominations are filtered through the various wing commanders of the major command and a selection board is convened to process the applications.
The 328th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) was established in early 1942 initially as a Consolidated B-24 Liberator reconnaissance squadron, flying antisubmarine patrols. The squadron later trained under Third Air Force in Florida. After completing training in late 1942, the squadron deployed to the European theater of operations as one of the initial heavy bomber squadrons assigned to VIII Bomber Command in England, September 1942.
The squadron engaged in long-range strategic bombardment operations over Occupied Europe. Deployed to IX Bomber Command in Egypt in December 1942, it operated from airfields in Libya and Tunisia. The squadron raided enemy military and industrial targets in Italy and in the southern Balkans, including the Nazi-controlled oilfields at Ploiești, Romania, receiving a Distinguished Unit Citation for its gallantry in that raid. The squadron also flew tactical bombing raids against Afrika Korps defensive positions in Tunisia, supporting the British Eighth Army forces in their advance to Tunis, in September and October 1943.
The squadron returned to England with the disestablishment of IX Bomber Command in North Africa. From England, it resumed long-range strategic bombardment raids on Occupied Europe and Nazi Germany, attacking enemy military and industrial targets as part of the United States' air offensive. The squadron was one of the most highly decorated units in the Eighth Air Force, continuing offensive attacks until the German capitulation in May 1945.
In June 1945, the squadron returned to the United States, being remanned and re-equipped with Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers. It was trained for deployment to the Central Pacific area to carry out very long-range strategic bombing raids over Japan. Japanese capitulation in August canceled plans for deployment, it instead became a Continental Air Forces (later Strategic Air Command) B-29 squadron.
During the Cold War, the squadron was equipped with new weapons systems as they became available, performing strategic bombardment training with the Boeing B-50 Superfortress, an advanced version of the B-29 in 1950. The B-50 gave the unit the capability to carry heavy loads of conventional weapons faster and farther as well as being designed for atomic bomb missions if necessary.
By 1951, the emergence of the Soviet MiG-15 interceptor in the skies over North Korea signaled the end of the propeller-driven B-50 as a first-line strategic bomber. The squadron received Boeing B-47 Stratojet jet bombers in 1954. In 1955, it began receiving an early model of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress and upgraded to various models over the next 40 years. Taken off nuclear alert after the end of the Cold War, the squadron was inactivated in 1994 with the inactivation of its parent unit and the closing of Castle Air Force Base.
The squadron deployed aircraft and personnel to the 1708th Provisional Bombardment Wing at Prince Abdullah Air Base, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from August 1990 and to the 4300th Provisional Bombardment Wing at Diego Garcia Air Base, British Indian Ocean Territories from January 1991 for Operation Desert Storm. Both deployments terminated in March 1991.
The Air Force Weapons School's Space Division was activated in July 1996. In 2003, the Weapons School restructured its units, turning their divisions into squadrons with lineages of a previously highly decorated notable inactivated unit. So, on 3 February 2003, the Space Division was replaced by the 328th Weapons Squadron on 3 February 2003. The unit has graduated over 350 weapons officers.
In 2012, the 328 WPS stood up the cyber Weapons Instructor Course (cyber WIC) stood up, giving students the opportunity to enhance their cyber skills while under the mentorship of space weapons officers. In 2018, the cyber WIC separated to become their own squadron, the 32nd Weapons Squadron.
The United States Space Force was established in 2019 partly to integrate different space organizations into a space-specific service branch, including space education units in the Air Force. The 328 WPS was one of 23 Air Force units identified to transfer into the Space Force in March 2020. On 24 July 2020, 328 WPS was transferred into the Space Force under Space Operations Command's Space Training and Readiness Delta (Provisional) (STAR Delta (P)), temporarily consolidating all space education units pending the establishment of the Space Training and Readiness Command (STARCOM). STARCOM was activated on 23 August 2021 following the inactivation of STAR Delta (P), and the 319 CTS was realigned under the newly activated Space Delta 1 (DEL 1).