New AFMC commander gains deeper insight on Test

Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Air Force Materiel Command commander, greets Maj. Gen. Evan Dertien, Air Force Test Center commander, upon his arrival at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., July 12, 2022. Dertien started the tour by briefing Richardson on AFTC mission, current focuses, and future Test goals.

Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, commander, Air Force Materiel Command, visited the Air Force Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for a site immersion July 12-13, 2022.

Air Force photograph by Lisa Dixon
Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Air Force Materiel Command commander, talks to a group of enlisted 412th Test Wing Airmen during his visit to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., July 14, 2022. Richardson took command of AFMC on June 13, 2022.

During his multi-day visit, Richardson stopped at various locations including the Air Force Test Center headquarters, 412th Test Wing headquarters, flight line, Joint Simulation Environment facility, Child Development Center, STARBASE Edwards, several Flight Test Squadrons, Test Pilot School and other vital areas around the base.

Air Force photograph by James West
Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Air Force Materiel Command commander, examines a class photo during his visit to the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., July 13, 2022. Richardson toured the facility as he was briefed on the TPS curriculum.

Maj. Gen. Evan Dertien, AFTC commander, greeted Richardson upon his arrival and gave opening remarks at the headquarters building. Dertien highlighted the Center’s mission, history, background, capabilities, current activities and future goals.

Air Force photograph by James West
Lt. Col. Adam Brooks, Emerging Technology Combined Test Force commander, briefs Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Air Force Materiel Command commander, on the ET-CTF mission as they walk past some of the CTF’s fleet of sUAS (small Unmanned Aerial System) test beds at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., July 13, 2022.

“It’s all about the warfighter here,” said Dertien. “All of the wings play different roles that are essential to the enterprise. The Center has operations that span over 35 locations across the country. One of the purposes of this test is to get information out to the decision makers about the capabilities being tested, with a goal of accelerating our war-winning capabilities.”

Air Force photograph by James West
Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Air Force Materiel Command commander, tours the soon-to-open Desert Junior/Senior High School and learns about the new and construction and facilities installed for the students during his visit to Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., July 13, 2022.

Dertien explained how the center is playing a key role in the modernization of fielded platforms while also helping to test the systems of the future. Areas of center impact include hypersonics, autonomy, cyber, weapons, mission planning systems and more.

Air Force photograph by James West
Col. Grant Mizell, 412th Operations Group commander, highlights a test sortie flown by the Emerging Technology Combined Test Force to Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Air Force Materiel Command commander, on Rogers Dry Lake Bed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., July 13, 2022. Richardson learned about the various CTFs within the 412th Test Wing and their missions during his first visit to Edwards AFB.

One of the presenters during the immersion was Maj. Isaiah Harp, Orange Flag director and F-35 pilot from the 461st Flight Test Squadron. He briefed about the importance of the Test Flag Enterprise.

Air Force photograph by James West
Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Air Force Materiel Command commander, tests a virtual reality educational tool while Amira Flores, DOD STARBASE-Edwards director, provides instruction, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., July 13, 2022. DOD STARBASE is an educational program sponsored by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs. Students can participate in challenging “hands-on, mind-on” activities in aviation, science, technology, engineering, math, and space exploration.

“The Test Flag Enterprise is an all-domain series of large-force test focused on kill-web integration and data-management infrastructure. This generates large data sets that support the actual capabilities of the test systems,” said Harp. “TFE is an incredible approach in testing the efficacy of the systems, is data driven, and gives analysis and feedback on the different systems.”

After the brief at headquarters, Richardson toured Edwards AFB.

While Richardson has held a breadth of materiel-related assignments within AFMC, he gained additional insight to the importance of Edward’s test mission and how AFTC plays a role within all of the centers in AFMC.

Air Force photograph by Todd Schannuth
Lt. Col. Kristopher Rorberg, 412th Operations Support Squadron commander, briefs Gen. Duke Z. Richardson, Air Force Materiel Command commander, on the current status of the secondary runway on Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., July 13, 2022. Rorberg briefed Richardson on the runway’s condition and how it affects flight test missions at Edwards AFB.

“During my visit, I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the full extent of the Test enterprise. It’s much more than just testing something that’s already been developed and built,” Richardson said. “Securing the full advantage of Test begins much earlier than that, to include informing the design and development, which Brig. Gen. Higer [412th Test Wing commander] and his team at the 412th TW have done a superb job showing me.”

Richardson spoke to the value of him seeing and hearing about the support systems for employees and their families.

“Visiting locations where families receive support services allowed me to see how well we’re taking care of our uniformed and civilian Airmen here at Edwards, especially because it’s an isolated base,” Richardson said.

Wrapping up his first immersion visit to Edwards, Richardson has various things he is taking back to AFMC.

“I’m struck by how involved the Test Center is in the development process. It’s clear you’re building strong partnerships with a lot of Air Force and DOD organizations,” Richardson said. “The passion of the workforce is noticeable and motivating. The folks here clearly do their job because they love it and believe in it.”

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