Roessig quickly adjusting to role as AEDC Test Operations Division chief
By Bradley Hicks, AEDC/PA
/ Published August 20, 2018
ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Col. Keith Roessig admits he is still settling in and finding his bearings, but the new chief of the AEDC Test Operations Division is impressed by what he has seen of Arnold Air Force Base thus far.
“It’s an exciting place to be, with the history and the mission that goes on here, and an exciting time in things that the nation is prioritizing, Arnold is going to play a key role in terms of space tests and hypersonics, nuclear deterrents, and modernization programs,” he said. “Arnold will have a key role in shaping all of that.”
Roessig officially assumed his role as chief of the Test Operations Division at Arnold AFB during a July 12 Change of Leadership ceremony. In this capacity, Roessig is responsible for the orchestration of test operations across AEDC, including the more than 40 aerospace test facilities located at Arnold, the Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 located in White Oak, Maryland, the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex at Moffett Field, California, the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, and the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Combined Test Force, or ICBM CTF, recently stood up at Hill Air Force Base, Utah.
He is also the program manager for the Test Operations and Sustainment contract for AEDC.
Roessig grew up primarily on the West Coast, attending grade school and college in California and junior high and high school in Oregon. Roessig’s father was a pilot in the U.S. Navy, so he grew up with an affinity for aircraft. This, coupled with a lifelong interest in math and science, led Roessig to pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of California, Davis.
“I’ve just always been interested in math and science, so engineering was kind of a nice fit,” he said. “I never really questioned it, and I’ve always been interested in aircraft.”
Roessig participated in the ROTC program at the university and entered the Air Force after receiving his bachelor’s degree in 1993. He completed an educational delay program to earn his master’s in aeronautical engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1997 and doctorate in the same area the following year.
Afterwards, Roessig was given his first Air Force assignment in the Air Force Research Laboratory Munitions Directorate at Eglin AFB. He subsequently served as an exchange officer in Germany before being competitively selected for the Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California. After becoming a test flight engineer, Roessig was assigned to the 46th Test Squadron at Eglin AFB. He was later competitively selected to become a political affairs strategist and attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.
Following his graduation, Roessig became director of test operations for the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards AFB where he led a team of more than 100 members in conducting development flight test for the Joint Strike Fighter. In June 2012, Roessig took over as commander of the 846th Test Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.
Upon completing Senior Development Training as an Air Force Fellow in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology System Design & Management program, Roessig returned to the Joint Strike Fighter program in August 2015 as the International Airworthiness Lead at the F-35 Joint Program Office in Arlington, Virginia. While there, he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Resolute Support.
Roessig’s position prior to coming to Arnold was deputy director for engineering for the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center.
Roessig’s education and experience has taken him all over the country and the world, but a visit the month before the Change of Leadership ceremony marked his first visit to Arnold. While he said he is not one to make changes immediately upon arrival, Roessig has developed some goals in his short time at Arnold.
“There’s obviously some infrastructure upgrades that need to happen, and I think there’s a lot of modernization that can happen as the Air Force is being pushed to go faster, prototype, get things out more quickly to the warfighter,” he said. “There’s a number of ways that can go and how it affects Arnold, but I think our role will become much more important to get as much data as we can to make the right programmatic decisions.”
Roessig added that AEDC must also look to increase flexibility and adapt test methods to acquire information that helps programs make the best possible decisions as the Air Force continues to place an emphasis on greater speeds.
“Whether that’s using more modeling and simulation to reduce the actual test time, whether it be in a wind tunnel or space facilities, it will be important for us to do is to be able to adapt to the pressures that the program offices are under while still maintaining our technical adequacy and competence in the data that we generate so that it’s something that we have trust in,” he said.
Roessig said AEDC must also take advantage of potential growth in several areas, including hypersonics, space and the ICBM CTF.
“There are opportunities to really make a huge impact on where the Air Force needs to go to complete its mission, so those are going to be the focus, expanding those new areas while modernizing the aging infrastructure we do have,” he said. “Those will be the critical things to balance moving forward.”