Baxter assumes leadership of Hypersonic Systems CTF

Lance E. Baxter speaks during an Oct. 20 Change of Directorship Ceremony in the J-5 Large Rocket Motor Test Facility at Arnold Air Force Base. Baxter is the new director of the Hypersonic Systems CTF. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rick Goodfriend)

Lance E. Baxter speaks during an Oct. 20 Change of Directorship Ceremony in the J-5 Large Rocket Motor Test Facility at Arnold Air Force Base. Baxter is the new director of the Hypersonic Systems CTF. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rick Goodfriend)

Lance E. Baxter, right, becomes director of the Hypersonic Systems Combined Test Force during a Change of Directorship Ceremony Oct. 20 in the J-5 Large Rocket Motor Test Facility at Arnold Air Force Base. Col. Timothy West, chief of Test Operations Division, passes the Hypersonic Systems CTF guidon to Baxter. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rick Goodfriend)

Lance E. Baxter, right, becomes director of the Hypersonic Systems Combined Test Force during a Change of Directorship Ceremony Oct. 20 in the J-5 Large Rocket Motor Test Facility at Arnold Air Force Base. Col. Timothy West, chief of Test Operations Division, passes the Hypersonic Systems CTF guidon to Baxter. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rick Goodfriend)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. -- Lance E. Baxter is the new director of the Hypersonic Systems Combined Test Force.

Baxter assumed leadership of the CTF from prior director Edgar Tucker during a Change of Directorship Ceremony Oct. 20 inside the J-5 Solid Rocket Motor Test Facility.

“I’m humbled by the honor extended to me today,” Baxter said to those gathered for the ceremony.

As director of the Hypersonic Systems CTF and branch chief of the High Speed Systems Test Branch at AEDC, Baxter will be responsible for leading the development and operation of an advanced complex of hypersonic flight simulation test facilities.

Baxter will lead a combined government and contractor team responsible for executing a $120 million Department of Defense Test and Evaluation Science and Technology portfolio, developing critical test technologies to support high speed and hypersonic testing. He will also oversee the $350 million Central Test and Evaluation Infrastructure Program funding for Hypersonic T&E Infrastructure Program, which will provide improvement in AEDC’s scramjet engine testing capabilities over five years.

In addition to these duties, he will support ongoing hypersonic system ground testing in the Aerodynamic and Propulsion Test Unit, as well as hypersonic flight testing at Edwards Air Force Base.

Baxter recently returned to AEDC from the Air War College, located at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. There, he earned a Masters of Strategic Studies degree from the Air University.

Prior to Air War College, Baxter served as the technical lead and later as program manager for the AEDC Test Operations and Sustainment Source Selection Team and as deputy chief of the Space and Missiles Systems Test Branch.

Col. Timothy West, chief of Test Operations Division, said Baxter’s work during his prior stint at AEDC led him to consider Baxter for the CTF directorship.

“Knowing that he was coming back and knowing that Ed was leaving, I started looking at how we could put Lance back in play here,” West said. “I knew this was a critical position, and I knew he would be a great choice for it because I got to see his program management skills in action before he went to Air War College when he was working on our Test Operations and Sustainment contract.”

Baxter’s prior assignments include squadron director, 649th Test and Evaluation Support Squadron and chief, Test Technology Branch, where he was responsible for the developing and transitioning of critical technologies to support DOD Test and Evaluation, including instrumentation and diagnostics, modeling and simulation and the Small Business Innovative Research program at Arnold AFB. He also served as the principal technical advisor to the Space Threat Assessment Testbed acquisition program manager and top technical expert for the space ground test facility development program, developing advanced test techniques, instrumentation and facilities by exploiting current research and applying new technologies.
As a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves, Baxter has also held various military positions, including engineer and laboratory manager, command protocol officer, manager of space testing at Arnold AFB, Individual Mobilization Augmentee to the C-130 Avionics Modernization Program deputy program manager. He deployed to Baghdad in 2010 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

Baxter holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a Master of Science in electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico. He is the author and co-author of multiple published papers.

“I promise you I will do my best every day to help all of you be successful in your jobs,” Baxter said to those present.

The High Speed Systems Test Branch is currently responsible for two major test capabilities – the APTU and the Hypersonic Flight Test Team at Edwards AFB. APTU is a blow-down, true temperature and pressure test facility designed for testing the performance, operability and durability of supersonic and hypersonic missile scale flight system hardware including propulsion systems and materials. APTU can test in either freejet or direct connect configurations.

The Hypersonic Flight Test Team, located at Edwards AFB, tests cutting-edge aircraft at hypersonic speeds. They manage range coordination and scheduling with several testing facilities located within the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB and with NASA resources for customer test needs. Test capabilities at the Hypersonic CTF include range safety analysis and planning, technical consultation, trajectory analysis, trajectory optimization, simulation, test and safety planning, test execution and program management.