With an F-35 Lightning II on the left and an F-22 Raptor on the right, base leadership and members of the Team Edwards workforce watched the 412th Test Wing receive a new commander during a change of command ceremony in Hangar 1600, March 19.
By relinquishing the 412th TW guidon to Brig. Gen. Robert C. Nolan II, Air Force Flight Test Center commander, Col. Dawn Dunlop officially passed her command responsibilities back to the center commander who then handed the flag and command to Col. Evan C. Dertien.
Nolan praised Dunlop, the first female fighter pilot to command at the wing level, and commended her on her accomplishments at the nation’s premiere A.F. Flight Test Center.
“Colonel Dunlop has been exceptional as test wing commander,” said Nolan. “In fact, she is the best I’ve seen in my 20 year involvement in Air Force Materiel Command. She has done everything we have asked her to do and more. She provided leadership by example across this base and across our Air Force. She supervised close to a thousand test programs over the course of three years.”
Dunlop was the “caretaker” for billions of dollars of national assets and 5,600 Airmen, government civilians and contractors.
“She gave us safe and effective test and evaluation on every major U.S. Air Force air-breathing platform,” said Nolan.
Under Dunlop’s command, the 412th Test Wing graduated 144 new test professionals from the U.S.A.F. Test Pilot School; established the operational envelope of the F-35A; produced innovative solutions for the F-22 oxygen problem; put a small-diameter bomb on the F-16; upgraded the C-17, C-5 and C-130; proved the BACN Global Hawk; tested new auto pilots on the KC-135; tested new gliders and powered flight platforms for the Air Force Academy and added the massive ordnance penetrator to the arsenal of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.
She also closed out the Missile Defense Agency’s Airborne Laser Program and launched two X-51A scramjet vehicles for the Air Force Research Laboratory.
The 412th TW hosted the X-47A, the Sky Warrior and Global Observer for the Navy, Army and Special Operations Command during her tenure.
“Those are worthy accomplishments, which will all be added to an historic legacy of the 412th Test Wing,” Nolan said.
“As I listened to General Nolan’s words, I’m reminded that those accomplishments are not mine – but yours,” said Dunlop. “Whatever this wing has been able to achieve, it has achieved because of you, the dedicated individuals and talented teams at all levels who are modernizing our legacy platforms, revolutionizing fifth-generation capabilities and developing new technologies to transform the battle space. We deliver the finest hardware, the most capable software and the most powerful weapons – and with these tools we provide airpower for the nation, added Dunlop.
“For as long as there has been a U.S. Air Force, there have been men and women at Edwards developing the capabilities needed to fly, fight and win our nation’s wars. From before World War II, to current operations across the globe, the men and women at Muroc, then Edwards, have made airpower an unrivaled instrument of speed, power, agility and precision.”
Dunlop closed by saying she was grateful for the opportunity to have served as the 412 Test Wing commander, standing side-by-side with an outstanding team of professionals – aircrew, maintainers, engineers, and program managers – who deliver so much airpower capability for the nation. After the change of command I asked what the toughest challenge was and how the Test Wing did on the priorities she set.
“The toughest challenge in executing the TW mission is balancing risk. There is a sense of urgency that comes with testing and developing new capabilities for the warfighter that must be balanced with judgment on the maturity level of the system and risk involved with testing. As a professional test community this is what we uniquely bring to the Air Force – the ability to identify and manage risk, to smartly execute test of unproven systems, and to recognize when technology is mature enough to provide a needed capability for the Air Force. The more technically advanced the system the more difficult the challenge to assess the risk, and the more urgent the program the more difficult to manage the risk of delayed fielding against the risk of losing an aircraft in development.”
“The Wing did an exceptional job of prioritizing what I asked them to and I couldn’t be more proud of the effort at all levels to safely and professionally execute test; to take care of our Airmen and their families; to be good stewards of our resources and to communicate our value to developing airpower solutions,” Dunlop said.
Dunlop was awarded the Legion of Merit Medal for her service and will head to the Pentagon to serve as Special Assistant to the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force for Joint Strike Fighter Integration, Office of the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force.
A USAF Test Pilot School graduate, Dertien returns to Edwards from a variety of assignments and said he looks forward to creating even more milestones here in the high desert.
“The 412th TW has an amazing history of delivering proven capabilities to the warfighter,” said Dertien. “This heritage traces back almost 70 years when the 412th Fighter Wing Group was established here in 1943 at the Muroc Army Airfield. That organization was established to test both the P-59A and the P-80 to field them to our combat forces. Since then, this organization, although having many different names, has continued to deliver that capability. Today, thanks to your skill, efforts and with the 95th ABW, it is truly a premier test unit and really an irreplaceable national asset.”
“To the men and women of the 412th TW, thank you for your hard work; thank you for your continued dedication. I look forward to working with each and every one of you as we continue to excel at our current mission and as we tackle the challenges of the future, we continue the legacy of the 412th TW,” Dertien concluded.
Dertien received his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in June 1993. After attending Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training and F-15C Mission Training, he served as an operational F-15 pilot completing three combat deployments in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH. He then served as an F-15 instructor pilot and was selected to attend USAF TPS. After graduating from TPS, he worked as an F-15, F-16 and F-22 test pilot in various test assignments. He was then assigned as an instructor pilot to the first operational F-22 unit at Langley AFB, Va., and supported F-22 Initial Operational Capability. Dertien then completed an Air Force Fellowship at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency in Arlington, Va. In 2007, he was assigned as the operations officer for the F-22 Combined Test Force at Edwards. He then served as the 40th Flight Test Squadron commander at Eglin AFB, Fl., which conducts developmental weapons, software and avionics testing for the F-15, F-16, A-10 and UH-1 aircraft. He most recently graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. Dertien is a Command Pilot with over 2,500 flying hours in a variety of aircraft.