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The Evolving Role of Developmental Test and Evaluation
Air Force Flight Test Center
and Lori Beutelman
AFFTC Acquisition Center of Excellence
65 N. Wolfe Avenue
Edwards AFB, CA 93524-6175
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.
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
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).
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
USAF Developmental Test and Evaluation Summit
16 - 18 November 2004, Woodland Hills, California
Copyright © 2004 by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. All rights reserved.