AFTC Commander learns more about the AEDC mission

  • Published
  • By Deidre Moon
This month, Maj. Gen. Evan Dertien made his first visit to Arnold Air Force Base since taking on his latest role as the commander of the Air Force Test Center.

During his two-day stop, Dertien had the opportunity to see many of the test facilities on base and speak with experts in each of the mission areas. He said that the visit greatly expanded his knowledge and appreciation for the work that takes place at Arnold.

“As I do my immersions and understand the scope of the mission of AFTC, it is pretty clear how important Arnold is, not only to us by developing our capabilities, but to our National Defense Strategy overall,” he said. “As I looked at all of the programs that we’re developing for the Air Force of the future, it’s incredible to know that they’re currently in test here right now or have previously gone through testing here.”

Dertien added that with his new understanding, one of his goals is to be an advocate for Arnold Engineering Development Complex.

“This visit has increased my commitment to ensuring that we’re getting the resources and to help solve any of the challenges that Arnold is having, because it is so important for the foreseeable future to what the Air Force and our nation needs and does,” he said. “Unless you’ve had the chance to come here and meet the people and also see the infrastructure… from the outside, you really don’t understand how important the Complex is to us.”

The Air Force Test Center has different capabilities amongst the wings. However, AEDC facilities, along with the capabilities of the two AFTC wings, the 412TW and the 96TW, benefits the Air Force, Department of Defense and the nation.

Dertien said that all have their own strengths and unique capabilities that complement one another.

“Whether it’s wind tunnel work or weapons or aircraft development, there’s a lot of areas where we can collaborate. For example, when we take a look at our data infrastructure, we make sure we can implement digital engineering so that a program can move from the wind tunnels on to Edwards [Air Force Base] or Eglin [Air Force Base] and we can have a standard digital engineering model that we can use,” he said.

Another example he gave of the combined efforts across the AFTC was in regards to hypersonic testing.

“The organization here that’s leading hypersonic [test and evaluation] is helping organize the test across all the different sites. So as a customer comes, we’re already pulling in all of the other organizations that are going to have to work together to develop a capability. It’s been very impressive to see, as we try to figure out how to test a program through its entire test structure, how the sites are collaborating with each other to make sure they pull in the needed cyber testing from Eglin to do the cyber components, the needed flight testing from Edwards and how the different organizations are working together.”

Additionally, Dertien said how people take for granted what the word “testing” means and how broad it actually is.

“We use the word ‘testing’ and it doesn’t do ourselves justice,” he said. “People think you are given a working product, it works perfect and we are testing it to double-check that it works and measure it and verify it. But in reality, we spend more of our time in development. We’re developing something and helping to mature it and fixing stuff that doesn’t work. What you guys are doing here really isn’t test, it’s development of future capabilities, and that’s totally different in my mind than just testing a working product. You guys are developing the future.”

He said that his biggest take away from his Arnold visit would be the impressive workforce.

“The thing that stands out the most is the people. It’s just absolutely amazing to meet experts in the field who have great depths of knowledge, who are passionate for the mission and really love what they’re doing for our nation. It is just inspiring. At every single stop, we met someone new and there were some who were young and fresh out of college, and there were some who have been here for 35 years. The people here are the magic of Arnold Air Force Base.”