The U.S. Air Force 412th Test Wing at Edwards Air Force Base resumed flight operations, on April 1, following a brief adjustment to modify procedures after the DoD-wide Health Protection Condition (HPCON) Charlie announcement.
During HPCON C at Edwards AFB, which was declared on March 26 to combat the spread of COVID-19, access to the base has been mostly limited to mission essential personnel.
This week the 411th Flight Test Squadron, 461st Flight Test Squadron, and the 418th Flight Test Squadron, all part of the 412th Operations Group, 412th Test Wing, are scheduled to fly various sorties in support of test missions.
During resumed operations, Team Edwards sorties included flights on the B-52, C-17, and testing of the F-22 with an F-16 target for a developmental test; while mission partners at the Joint Operational Test Team flew the F-35 for operational tests.
The 412th Test Wing Commander, Col. Matthew Higer, and 412th Test Wing Technical Advisor, Daniel Osburn, both received a first-hand “walk-through” of the expanded sanitization procedures being implemented at the Ridley Mission Control Center on Edwards, March 31.
“Team Edwards has made amazing and agile progress the last few days at getting the installation postured toward our ‘new-normal’ test-and-evaluation steady-state in the long fight against COVID-19,” said Higer “Our National Defense Strategy requirement to compete, deter, and win against peer competitors – in all warfighting domains – does not go into standby or otherwise pause while we are effectively in combat operations against COVID-19.”
Ridley Mission Control Center serves as a data nexus hub between flight crews in the air and flight test engineers on the ground. Real-time flight data from aircraft can be sent directly to engineers at Ridley, where they monitor multiple facets of a test flight.
The new sanitization procedures are designed to mitigate the health risk to Team Edwards personnel as the Wing ramps up strategically important test and evaluation flight operations.
“My priority, as the Test Center commander, is protecting and preserving the force and its people against the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Maj. Gen. Christopher Azzano, commander, Air Force Test Center headquartered at Edwards. “I am very focused on maintaining unit readiness across all of our test enterprise sites, including Edwards AFB, Eglin AFB, and Arnold Engineering Development Complex.”
“I’m very proud of the accomplishments of Team Edwards to continue the test mission to support the warfighter during this most challenging time for our Nation,” said Azzano.
Despite reduced manning levels, Edwards AFB continues to perform its wartime mission each and every day – before, during, and after the COVID-19 pandemic – delivering future readiness to the warfighter.
Story by Grady Fontana /412th Test Wing Public Affairs