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AIAA-2004-6856-620 - AIAA 2004-6856 USAF Developmental Test...

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Approved for public release: distribution is unlimited. The Evolving Role of Developmental Test and Evaluation at the Air Force Flight Test Center Jeff Veselenak * and Lori Beutelman AFFTC Acquisition Center of Excellence 65 N. Wolfe Avenue Edwards AFB, CA 93524-6175 U.S.A. This paper explores the reasons why the test engineering support the Air Force Flight Test Center traditionally provided has changed significantly in response to acquisition reform initiatives and increasing weapons systems complexity and interoperability requirements. It discusses current concerns related to the diminishing role of independent, government-controlled developmental test and evaluation. Finally, it recommends possible solutions to achieve and sustain effective independent developmental test and evaluation capabilities into the future. I. History The military service has recognized the need to develop its own standards and perform an independent evaluation of commercially-produced aircraft since their initial use in World War I. Flight test came into being, Developmental Test and Evaluation (DT&E) was established, and the government developed a series of flight test methodology manuals. The Air Corps Act of 1926, along with drastic funding reductions, left most of the DT&E with the contractors, relegating the military to brief acceptance test programs. This resulted in significant differences from one flight test operation to another due to insufficient standardization of contractor flight test conduct. The detection of too many operational deficiencies occurred much too late in the process, an especially unacceptable situation during a war. In response to this situation, by the end of World War II an independent Flight Test Division was stood up to control DT&E so that neither industry nor the project offices, those responsible for developing the aircraft, could influence the results. Training programs to improve the technical competencies of test personnel and a formal test pilot school which standardized flight test methodologies were established. Also recognized was the need for a Test and Evaluation (T&E) process that increased government participation and provided earlier insight into the status of the product under development. By 1951, most Air Force flight test operations were located at Edwards Air Force Base, California, which was then christened the Air Force Flight Test Center (AFFTC). The concept of Phase Testing had integrated the government back into the process with an independent role. * Acquisition Advisor, AFFTC/AE, 65 N. Wolfe Ave, Edwards AFB, CA 93524-6175, Senior Member Acquisition Advisor, AFFTC/AE, 65 N. Wolfe Ave, Edwards AFB, CA 93524-6175 1 USAF Developmental Test and Evaluation Summit 16 - 18 November 2004, Woodland Hills, California AIAA 2004-6856 Copyright © 2004 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved.
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