46th rotary wing testing moves to Duke, adds missions
40th Flight Test Squadron UH-1N Huey flight are now part of the 413th Flight Test Squadron at Duke Field
US Air Force, March 01, 2012 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- With blades spinning and dust flying, the 46th Test Wing's UH-1N Hueys took off from Eglin's main ramp on Feb. 27, to join the 413th Flight Test Squadron's operating location eight miles north at Eglin's Duke Field.
While still under the 46th Test Wing, the helicopters will operate from Duke Field rather than from Eglin to allow the test wing to support a 250 percent increase in helicopter developmental test programs beginning in June. The move will centralize all Air Force helicopter developmental test and evaluation in one squadron, according to Capt. Garrett Knowlan, a flight commander and major architect of the helicopter bed-down.
"The helicopters will integrate with the 413th's HC/MC-130J test operation in an efficiency effort that maximizes use of existing facilities, while making room for increased mission activity on Eglin's main ramp" said Knowlan. "We'll be responsible for DT and E for the recapitalization of HC/MC-130s and for DT and E of all new U.S. Air Force helicopters."
The organization will operate out of a facility originally refurbished for the Combat Search and Rescue-X helicopter program. The 46th Wing Commander, Col. Colin Miller, directed this consolidation at the end of 2011 and sees great potential in this centralization of assets and expertise.
"This unit and its mission are critical to the future of special mission C-130s and helicopter operations across the Air Force," said Miller. "This team will conduct warfighter-focused test and evaluation to ensure programs are setup for success from source selection to aircraft fielding and follow-on development."
The newly-focused rotary mission will involve the modernization of TH-1H and UH-1N helicopters, the HH-60G Ops Loss Replacement program, and the acquisition of the new Combat Rescue Helicopter.
"The move allows the Test Wing to support two and a half times as many programs with virtually the same size work force by leveraging the ability of test aircrew and engineers to work on multiple programs at the same time," said Miller.
As the program progresses, C-130 aircraft will be tested at multiple locations, but most rotary wing aircraft will be stationed at Duke Field during the developmental test and evaluation process. After tests are complete, helicopters will move on to operational units.
The new test team at Duke has their work cut out for them in coming months as they begin work on four new programs simultaneously.
"In the current budget environment we have to find smarter ways to test with our limited resources," said Knowlan, "we are excited to start testing a new portfolio of programs from our new home at Duke Field."
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413 FLTS 413th Flight Test Squadron US Air Force
40 FTS 40th Flight Test Squadron US Air Force