Colonel Eric A.Smith is the Vice Commander, 53rd Wing, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The wing comprises more than 2,800 military and civilian people across 73 units at 22 diverse locations throughout the United States. The 53rd Wing is responsible for fighter, bomber, space and remotely-piloted air vehicle operational testing and evaluation, and tactics development and evaluation in the areas of electronic combat, armament, avionics and aircrew training devices. The wing manages Air Force Advanced Program Networks, the air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons systems evaluation programs Combat Archer and Combat Hammer, as well as the electronic warfare evaluation program, Combat Shield.
The colonel graduated Georgia Institute of Technology in 1991 with a Masters in Aerospace Engineering. After working as a Senior Engineer for Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, Conn., Col. Smith next earned his Air Force commission in 1995 through Officer Training School. He is a graduate of both the Air Force Weapons Instructor Course and the Air Force Test Pilot School. Col. Smith has served and led within the developmental test community at 40th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla. Additionally, his previous tours at Eglin AFB included the F-35A unit, the 33rd Fighter Wing, serving in the various roles of 58th Fighter Squadron Director of Operations, 33rd Operations Support Squadron Commander, and 33rd Operations Group Deputy Commander. Prior to this assignment, the colonel was the Division Chief, Special Programs, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.
Colonel Smith is a Command Pilot with more than 3,000 hours in the F-35A, F-16B/C/D and A-10A/C variants. Col. Smith has deployed to combat on five separate occasions, tested and fielded the A-10C, and was the Air Force’s first F-35A Instructor Pilot and Flight Examiner.
1990 Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, The Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga.
1991 Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering, The Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Ga.
1995 Officer Training School, Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.
1998 US Army Airborne School, Fort Benning, Ga.
2000 USAF A-10 Weapons Instructor Course, Nellis AFB, Nev.
2002 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
2005 USAF Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, Calif.
2009 Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Ks.
2015 Master of Military Strategy, Advanced Strategic Leadership Studies Program, Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
1. June 1995 - September 1996, Student, Undergraduate Pilot Training, Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas
2. October 1996 - June 1997, Student, A-10 pilot training, Davis-Monthan AFB, Az.
3. July 1997 - June 2000, A-10 Instructor Pilot, 355th Fighter Squadron, Eielson AFB, Alaska
4. July 2000 - December 2000, Student, A-10 Weapons School, Nellis Air Force Base, Nv.
5. January 2001 – May 2003, Flight Commander and Weapons Officer, 75th Fighter Squadron, Pope AFB, N.C.
6. June 2003 - December 2004, Instructor of Weapons and Tactics, 66th Weapons Squadron, Nellis AFB, Nv.
7. January 2005 - December 2005, Student, United States Air Force Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, Ca.
8. January 2006 – December 2006, A-10 Flight Test Commander, 40th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla.
9. January 2007 - May 2008, Assistant Director of Operations, 40th Flight Test Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla.
10. June 2008 - June 2009, Student, U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Ks.
11. July 2009 – May 2011, Assistant Director of Operations, 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
12. July 2009 - December 2012, Director of Operations, 58th Fighter Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
13. January 2013 – May 2013, Deputy Commander, 33rd Operations Group, Eglin AFB, Fla.
14. May 2013 – May 2015, Squadron Commander, 33rd Operations Support Squadron, Eglin AFB, Fla.
15. June 2015 – June 2016, Fellow, Advanced Strategic Leadership Studies Program, Fort Leavenworth, Ks.
16. July 2016 – June 2017, Division Chief, Special Programs, Headquarters Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio
17. June 2017 – Present, Vice Commander, 53rd Wing, Eglin AFB, Fla.
Rating: Command Pilot
Flight hours: More than 3,200 including more than 190 combat hours
Aircraft Flown: A-10A/C, F-16B/C/D, F-35A
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Medal with six oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal
Combat Readiness Medal with one oak leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant June 23, 1995
First Lieutenant June 23, 1997
Captain June 23, 1999
Major Nov. 1, 2005
Lieutenant Colonel Oct. 1, 2010
Colonel Jan. 1, 2017
(Current as of June 2017)