HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
The 704th Test Group complex may not look like much to passersby but within that complex is a team that is directly impacting the future of military aviation.
The 586th Flight Test Squadron conducts and enables agile weapons, avionics, and survivability testing for the joint warfighter.
Although they are based on Holloman, the 586th FLTS plans, analyzes, coordinates and conducts flight tests of advanced weapon systems and avionic systems impacting the entire Department of Defense and other agencies.
“We’re known as a P and E flight test squadron, which means prototyping and experimental flight test squadron,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Sean Siddiqui, 586th FLTS commander. “We work with a bunch of different customers and their prototypes, some of the customers we work with include Lockheed, Raytheon, or even the Air Force Research Lab.”
The squadron tests numerous prototypes including guidance systems, laser systems, air-to-air and air-to-ground systems, and long range and standoff weapons. They also have access to both full-scale and sub-scale unmanned aerial targets, which are unmanned drones that test out targeting systems.
To perform these various tests, the flight test squadron has their own aircraft including; T-38C Talons, C-12J Hurons, and C-12F Hurons, which are modified for specific testing purposes. For example, the C-12J has equipment racks installed for storing customer equipment during the testing phase.
The testing they provide also helps the 49th Wing training mission as some of the equipment that gets tested can go on to help improve Holloman’s aircraft.
“Holloman is interesting because the 49th Wing has a training mission with the MQ-9 Reapers and F-16 Vipers,” said Siddiqui. “Where we step in on the test side is delivering capabilities so that in the future MQ-9s and the F-16s can be more effective.”
Although the 586th has to work around the training mission that goes on at Holloman, they are still able to provide low budget testing for their customers using their aircraft.
“We have one of the most low cost DoD testing programs with our C-12s," said U.S. Air Force Tech Sgt. Taylor Thyne, 586th FLTS munitions production noncommissioned officer in charge. “Customers will utilize us for the low cost just to see if their equipment can be flown first.”
The flight test squadron’s low cost per flight test hour enables technology development programs to move beyond the laboratory environment while working within a small test budget.
From providing testing to equipment in its earliest stages, to being able to support multiple different agencies, the 586th FLTS is here to ensure the future of the U.S. Air Force and military aviation.