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USAF Cyber Operations

Cyber Operations"We have moved past the civilities in the cyberspace domain. U.S. forces and those of our adversaries now rely heavily on their computer networks for command and control, intelligence, for planning, for communications, and for conducting operations. But these architectures are vulnerable."
- Gen. Kevin Chilton, USAF, 2009

Although modern cyberspace operations began in the USAF in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the heritage of cyberspace operations goes back to the early twentieth century with the exploitation of the electro-magnetic spectrum through observation balloons and tactical reconnaissance, to electronic warfare and information operations up to the present day and the operation and defense of Air Force networks. As technology advanced and the operational need to protect and defend information became more critical, modern cyberspace operations began to emerge. Thus, with its long heritage of exploiting the electro-magnetic spectrum, Air Force cyberspace operations now focus on operating, extending, and defending the Air Force Information Network, defending key mission systems, and providing full spectrum cyberspace capabilities for joint warfighters in, through and from cyberspace.

Note: This online exhibit is continually being developed and more content will be added as we move forward. Please revisit this page often for updates.

Heritage of Cyberspace Ops

World War II Featured Artifacts
These artifacts demonstrate how the use of technology in the 1940s was used to disrupt the flow of information by means of jamming communications as well as protecting information using cryptology. Although the means of communication has developed, the mission to protect and control information remains essential to Air Force operations.

AN/CRT-2 Radio Communications Jammer
Cryptology in WWII (Enigma)


Korean War Featured Artifacts
The Korean War showcased the development of communication technology and how it was used between air and ground forces. Radio signals exploited the electromagnetic spectrum, and were one step closer to the development of Electronic Warfare used during the South East Asia War.

Close Air Support: Battering from Above
Tactical Air Control Parties
Forward Air Control Communications
Mosquito Radios


SEA War Featured Artifacts
Electronic Warfare is the predecessor to modern Cyberspace Operations in that it sought to control and affect the electromagnetic spectrum. By using both ground and air components, the Air Force proved successful in controlling communications and information.

EB-66 Electronic Warfare over Vietnam
General Dynamics EF-111A Raven
AN/MSR-1 ("Misery") Communications Interceptor Van


Cold War Featured Artifacts
Dating back to the Tactical Reconnaissance units in 1947, photo reconnaissance has developed to the 67th Cyberspace Wing. Exploiting the electromagnetic spectrum, the Air Force has had to learn how to develop and employ combat capability in both air and space domains of Cyber.

Cold War in Space
Lockheed U-2A
GBU-31/32 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM)

Modern Cyberspace Ops

Global Reach Featured Artifacts
As technology grew, so did our reconnaissance, in the form of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). With these new advancements, the Air Force evolved its Cyber Operations from and "information assurance" to a "mission assurance" posture over time.

Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems YMQ-9 Reaper
General Atomics Aeronautical Systems RQ-1 Predator

Interactive Material

Cyber Attack: Tangled Web
(Note: This is part of the larger Airman Challenge game.)

Lesson Plans

Middle and High School

  • Codes: Protecting Information (coming soon!)

Audiovisual Materials


The Early Wild Weasel Days: The Air Force's First Anti-SAM Efforts
Col. (Ret.) Mike Gilroy
Col. Gilroy talks about the challenges and opportunities facing the Wild Weasels and Strike crews at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base in the mid-1960s.
Gilroy Transcript

The Black Bats: CIA Spy Flights Over China From Taiwan, 1951-1969
Chris Pocock
Mr. Pocock discusses the 34th squadron "Black Bats" and the CIA reconnaissance flights made over China from 1951-1969. These flights and operations made significant use of low- level photo recon and ground SIGINT operated by the NSA and Air Force Security Agency.
Pocock Transcript

Covert Air Reconnaissance in Europe: USAFE Operations, 1946-1990
Lt. Col. (Ret.) John Bessette
Lt. Col. Bessette discusses the period shortly after the end of World War II, when the victorious Allies split Germany and Austria into territories, and when relations between the three western Allies and the Soviet Union disintegrated.
Bessette Transcript

Note: These materials are directed to an adult audience and may contain visual material or language which may be considered inappropriate for young viewers. The museum strongly suggests videotapes be previewed prior to student viewing in the classroom. Additionally, the expressed comments and opinions presented by guest speakers are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the views of the museum or the U.S. Air Force.

Annotated Bibliography

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