Local

March 23, 2012

31st TES ramps up for F-35 initial operational testing at Edwards

Written by: Staff
More articles by »
Air Force photograph by Jet Fabara
For members with the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron, a tenant unit assigned to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., under the Air Combat Command, the squadron is ramping up to become ACC's first operational test unit to begin initial operational testing on the F-35 Lightning II in July 2012.

Flight test at Edwards normally consists of squadrons taking an aircraft from the developmental test phase and preparing it for its operational test phase at another base.

For members with the 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron, a tenant unit assigned here under the Air Combat Command, the squadron is ramping up to become ACC’s first operational test unit to begin initial operational testing on the F-35 at Edwards.

“The 31st TES has been assigned to Edwards for a long time as a tenant unit doing ACC operational test. Prior to the stand up for the incoming F-35s, the squadron has traditionally had the mission of executing early influence in developmental test by taking ACC operators and placing them in bomber and unmanned aircraft systems squadrons in recent years,” said Lt. Col. Brian O’Neill, 31st TES director of operations. “With that operational test precedent set by our unit at Edwards we were selected to be part of the F-35 build-up, so we basically started building up manpower since 2010 for this upcoming test.”

As with any aircraft, the F-35 initially goes through its developmental testing at Edwards, which in this case involves the 461st Flight Test Squadron conducting tests to support the development and demonstration of the F-35 and its operational capabilities as early as possible in the acquisition life cycle.

O’Neill said the squadron’s goal is to complete the initial operational test and evaluation of the F-35, which will lead to the fielding of the first true combat-capable software and hardware versions of the F-35.

“With developmental test, testers ensure the airplane works the way it’s supposed to from a function’s perspective. Initial operational test straddles that line with what most people would traditionally think operational test is as a whole,” added O’Neill. “We anticipate that combat air forces will use the airplane in these missions. Our job is to evaluate and verify if [the aircraft] is suitable and effective in these missions and how well it performs in these missions. Based on the nature of the program, we’re all going to be figuring out what does and doesn’t work collectively.”

With the squadron preparing to add F-35 testing to its current operations involving B-1, B-2, B-52, RQ-4 and MQ-9 aircraft, O’Neill said the squadron is rapidly growing from its original compliment of 110 people to approximately 280 personnel. As members of the Joint Operational Test Team, Airmen from the 31st TES will work alongside pilots, maintainers and engineers from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, United Kingdom, and multiple partner-nations.

“Compared to the other bases where ACC does operational fighter test like at Nellis [AFB, Nev.] or Eglin [AFB, Fla.], this stand up will be different because the F-35 is a joint and multi-national coalition aircraft,” said O’Neill. “At certain points, we will train alongside with our coalition partners as well as our joint partners. We will leverage a lot of the commonalities and efficiencies of the program and the aircraft’s operational capabilities will be the same for everyone as well.”

Prior to executing formal operational test, O’Neill said the 31st would be emulating what that test looks like with the help of its DT counterpart so that they can build their expertise and be ready to test when the time comes.

“We conceptually intend to share as much as it makes sense and helps both units to leverage as much commonality between DT and OT, so both squadrons can trim the excess of any overlap,” stated O’Neill. “The day-to-day interactions with the DT pilots, allows us to give input on topics that will be of valuable to the overall development of the F-35 once we begin testing.”

In conjunction with the 31st being ACC’s first F-35 operational test squadron; the unit will also employ the use of the newest Autonomic Logistics Information System, according to O’Neill.

“The employment of ALIS is truly an asset to the F-35 program,” O’Neill said. “ALIS incorporates a multitude of mission planning features for the aircraft, to include the tracking of current and upcoming maintenance functions, aircraft status, aircraft location and many more functions, so the visibility between operators and maintainers will be very widespread.”

Once the F-35s arrive at Edwards, the 31st will be closely followed by the 422nd Test and Evaluation Squadron at Nellis AFB, Nev., who will also be receiving F-35s for operational testing.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

News Briefs April 18, 2014

Commissary The Edwards Commissary will be open 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., April 20. CCAF graduation The Community College of the Air Force Graduation Ceremony is 2:30-4:30 p.m., May 7 at Club Muroc. The graduation ceremony will honor the October 2013 and the April 2014 CCAF classes and will also recognize enlisted Airmen who have completed their...
 
 

Spring season = Spring clean up at Edwards

Winter is finally over and Spring has arrived! Despite the cold mornings or the blustery winds we have battled, the weather is definitely turning warmer. Just like the things we do every year at home, clearing winter debris blown into our yards or removing dead plants and weeds, at Edwards AFB we have an annual...
 
 

April 14 – Pulse on AF force management

WASHINGTON – New eligibility criteria, application deadlines and status updates are all featured in this force management update, an ongoing effort to bring Airmen the latest, most accurate information concerning the complex and dynamic force management programs. Additional TERA, VSP windows The Air Force will open two new fiscal year 2014 temporary early retirement authority...
 

 

NASA signs agreement with German, Canadian partners to test alternative fuels

NASA has signed separate agreements with the German Aerospace Center and the National Research Council of Canada to conduct a series of joint flight tests to study the atmospheric effects of emissions from jet engines burning alternative fuels. The Alternative Fuel Effects on Contrails and Cruise Emissions (ACCESS II) flights are set to begin May...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Bobbi Zapka

X-47B wins Collier Trophy

Northrop Grumman photograph by Alan Radecki The two X-47B test aircraft pause between flight test events at Edwards AFB, Calif. The two vehicles were built by Northrop Grumman in Palmdale, Calif., and performed all of their ini...
 
 

Hazardous waste roundup slated for April 26

Edwards AFB Environmental Management is hosting a Household Hazardous and Universal Waste Roundup on Saturday, April 26. The roundup is at the Base Housing Office, 402 West Forbes Ave., Bldg. 6696, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Base housing and dormitory residents can drive up and drop off household hazardous and universal waste for free....
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>