Rupp takes command of 846th Test Squadron

  • Published
  • By Bradley Hicks
  • AEDC Public Affairs

On June 9, Lt. Col. Jared Rupp assumed command of the 846th Test Squadron, his latest stop on a path that began when he decided to follow in the footsteps of those who inspired him as a child.

Unlike many of his peers, Rupp didn’t dote on professional athletes, the super-powered caped crusaders from the comics or the colorful protagonists of Saturday morning cartoons.

Instead, Rupp’s admiration gravitated toward a different type of warrior.

“No one in my family had ever previously volunteered for military service, but everything about the military fascinated me growing up,” he said. “I looked up to the military members who lived and sacrificed for others and lived for something bigger than themselves. That mentality just seemed correct and worthwhile to me.”

As 846 TS commander, Rupp, who commissioned into the U.S. Air Force more than 15 years ago, will oversee the squadron that operates the Holloman High Speed Test Track at Holloman Air Force Base. Considered the world’s premier rocket sled test track, the HHSTT provides a link between laboratory analysis and full-scale flight tests by providing a ground test capability to simulate selected portions of the flight environment under accurately-programmed and highly-instrumented test conditions. 

The mission of the 846 TS is to plan and execute world-class rocket sled tests enabling weapon system development in support of the warfighter. The squadron is part of the 704th Test Group at Holloman, a unit of Arnold Engineering Development Complex, headquartered at Arnold Air Force Base, Tennessee. 

Prior to taking command of the 846 TS, Rupp was director of the Directed Energy Combined Test Force at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico. This test force is comprised of elements of the Air Force Research Laboratory, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center and the 704 TG at Kirtland. It focuses on developing test concepts, planning, methodology, procedures and techniques for emerging directed energy programs.

Although Rupp’s new assignment did not require a cross-country move and is part of the same test group as his prior post, he still expects a “significant transition.” He will go from leading a group of seven to a group of more than 120 personnel. The 704 TG operating location at Kirtland has only existed since 2018, and the responsibilities of the unit and its director are still being defined. In contrast, the 846 TS is an established unit with a long history and considerable legacy.

Still, Rupp said he’s prepared.

“I have some adaptation to do,” he said. “But every one of my assignments has been unique, so adaptation is what I’ve been doing my whole career.”

He also recognizes the importance of the work that occurs at the HHSTT.

“I have typically seen three main categories of testing from the 846th – egress/ejection seat, hypersonic/missiles and weapons/impact testing,” he said. “The first type of testing allows us to have confidence that a crucial piece of safety equipment will work. That ejection seat is literally the difference between life and death in a split second. The second two are constantly evolving to meet efforts by our potential enemies to negate the effectiveness of our current weapons. It is part of the never-ending struggle between offense and defense for superiority, and these two testing efforts help ensure the DOD’s effectiveness.”

As for goals in his new role, Rupp said his focus is not on advancing his own career. It is solely on the mission.

“I am not looking to necessarily ‘leave my mark’ on the unit,” he said. “I am not a ‘careerist,’ in that my mindset is not on my career. I didn’t join the Air Force for a career, rank or position. I’m here for the mission. I strive to do the best I can in any position. As the commander, that may mean I need to intervene and make decisions, or it may mean I need to stay out of an issue and let it be resolved on its own or let others in the chain of command resolve it in their own way.

“All my decisions should be data-driven and focused on our role within the 704th Test Group as part of AEDC and what’s best for the unit, both the mission and the people.”

Other assignments throughout Rupp’s career have included UH-1 Iroquois flight test engineer with the 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; F-16 Fighting Falcon flight test director with the 28th test evaluation squadron at Eglin, AFB; C-130 Hercules flight test engineer, tactical mobility flight commander and fixed wing flight commander with the 413th Flight Test Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida; and instructor, deputy director of education and assistant director of operations for the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Rupp earned his Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Colorado; a Master of Science in flight test engineering from Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; and a Master of Science in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He is also a graduate of Squadron Officer School and Air Command and Staff College, both located at Maxwell AFB.

Among his awards and decorations, Rupp has received the Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal and Joint Meritorious Unit Award.