Test squadron delivers relevant results

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An F-16 from the 40th Flight Test Squadron located at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., returns to base after completing testing Aug. 23, 2019. Flutter testing evaluates the vibration characteristics of the airplane at certain speeds to asses the impact of plane lifetime and safe mission accomplishment. (Courtesy photo)

The 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., focuses on executing fighter aircraft development tests.

This squadron highlights the Air Force Test Center’s relentless focus on the warfighter by providing improved technology to aircraft systems with every single test mission the 40th FLTS Airmen accomplish.

“Our primary responsibility is to execute fighter developmental tests,” said Lt. Col. James Pate, the 40th FLTS commander. “We are responsible for a fleet of F-15Cs, F-15Es, F-16s and an A-10 detachment. Our other responsibility is we maintain areas of expertise in test engineering and management when it comes to some very specific types of flight test.”

Members with the 40th FLTS take an operational idea and turn it into reality by working as an integrative team to provide adaptive solutions.

“On the developmental side, if we’re doing envelope expansion, flight sciences, or anything related to air vehicle systems, our engineering cadre is at the center of expertise and excellence for that inside the 96th Test Wing,” said Pate.

A U.S. Air Force test pilot and weapons system officer from the 40th Flight Test Squadron fire an Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile during a test mission from an F-15E Strike Eagle, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., July 29, 2019. The 40th FLTS mission is to execute fighter developmental test and support to deliver war-winning capabilities to the battlefield. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. John McRell)

Flying higher and faster in unique operational environments is just one of the 40th FLTS’s specialties. They break barriers through precise execution of flight plans.

“The objective of AFTC is to deliver relevant results,” said Pate. “Our job in AFTC is to bridge the gap between the requirements that have been given to us from the warfighter and the engineers who are actually designing the system in the developmental phase.”

“Our personnel are very current operators and they’re educated and experienced testers,” said Pate. “We make sure we can preserve that speed of relevancy to provide decision-makers with data to make calls.”

Although the operational warfighter may not immediately feel the effects of the 40th FLTS’s efforts, the long-term results are crucial to refining aircraft and weapon systems for maximum success.