Pursuing mission excellence and employing squadron-level power at its finest

  • Published
  • By Gary Wollam
  • 704th Test Group Aerospace Survivability and Safety Office

The 704th Test Group’s Aerospace Survivability and Safety Office, or 704 TG/OL-AC, located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, supports DOD acquisition and sustainment requirements with specialized Research, Development, Test and Evaluation, or RDT&E, capabilities and subject matter expertise for aircraft survivability and landing gear systems. The 704 TG/OL-AC operates and maintains the Aerospace Vehicle Survivability Facility, or AVSF, and the Landing Gear Test Facility, or LGTF, and conducts Title 10 Live Fire Test and Evaluation, vulnerability reduction, independent qualification, investigation and safety-of flight testing to ensure survivable and safe aircraft systems for the warfighter.

This small unit, with a unique dual-mission set, employs squadron-level power with world-class test capabilities to meet the needs of numerous customers including the Army, Navy, Office of the Secretary of Defense/Director Operational Test and Evalution, Joint Aircraft Survivability Program, or JASP, and Joint Live Fire, or JLF, Offices, Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, or AFLCMC, Air Force Sustainment Center, Defense Logistics Agency, or DLA, Air Force Research Laboratory, or AFRL, Defense Technical Information Center, or DTIC, Air Force Institute of Technology, or AFIT, Air Force Test Center, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force International Affairs, or SAF/IA, NASA, other government agencies and multiple commercial customers.

The 704 TG/OL-AC executes over 500 test missions annually resulting in thousands of individual tests being conducted by a highly skilled and professional team of about 90 civilian and contractor personnel.

The 704 TG/OL-AC mission and capabilities align with all five Chief of Staff of the Air Force ascribed National Defense Strategy, or NDS, missions for the Air Force (defend the homeland; ensure a safe, secure, effective nuclear deterrent; defeat a peer threat; deter rogue nations; and maintain momentum against violent extremism), and directly tie to all four phases of the NDS Global Operating Model, or GOM, (contact, blunt, surge and homeland). In addition, the 704 TG/OL-AC performs a critical role in supporting key NDS priorities to build a more lethal force, strengthen our alliances and build new partnerships, and reform the way the we do business.

The 704 TG/OL-AC capabilities were created to help build a more lethal force and continue to employ squadron-level power toward this same goal.

The AVSF emerged out of the lessons learned from the Vietnam War to help reduce aircraft attrition losses due to threat weapon systems. It continues the same legacy today pursuing mission excellence in supporting multiple airborne systems to identify, characterize, develop and test technologies to reduce their vulnerabilities to enemy threats.

Similarly, with its world-unique test capabilities, the LGTF has pursued mission excellence since the mid-1940s when it was established to conduct groundbreaking tests on the Convair B-36 Peacemaker. Today, the LGTF remains the DOD’s only full-spectrum landing gear ground test capability and directly impacts all air and space vehicles employing landing gear systems.

As part of continuing to help build a more lethal force, the 704 TG/OL-AC capabilities support effective and safe launch and recovery operations or airborne platforms, and they improve mission capability and survivability rates to support aircraft sortie generation and sustained operations critical for all NDS GOM phases. In addition, several partnerships and collaborative efforts with allied nations have also been conducted and/or are currently in place to support interoperability of our combined forces during the GOM phases.

Landing gear testing further supports many commercial platforms, which form an essential backbone of the civil reserve air fleet which would be called upon and activated to support the GOM surge and homeland phases in a conflict involving great power competition.

As part of strengthening alliances and building partnerships, the 704 TG/OL-AC has many active and strong partnerships with the Army, Navy, OSD/DOT&E, JASP and JLF Offices, AFLCMC, DLA, AFRL, DTIC, AFIT, SAF/IA, NASA and other agencies. The 704 TG/OL-AC has also executed multiple partnership agreements with allied nations to support the test and interoperability needs of our allies.

The LGTF continues to support the landing gear test requirements for various multi-national platforms such as the F-35 Lightning II, F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and C-130 Hercules aircraft. In addition, the LGTF supported the United Kingdom in helping assess and determine the landing surface of its new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier.

Working with SAF/IA, the AVSF has several RDT&E partnership agreements in place with Germany, Italy, France, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea exploring improvements in structural vulnerability reduction technologies, aircraft battle damage repair techniques and hydrodynamic ram testing.

Moreover, the 704 TG/OL-AC maintains active leadership roles in Society of Automotive Engineers International, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronauts, International Test and Evaluation Association and National Defense Industrial Association to develop standards, promote information exchange and cultivate new partnerships.

In helping reform and change the way we do business to improve and sustain the AEDC complex and ensure its capabilities are ‘Second to None’, the 704 TG/OL-AC continues to innovate and develop new test capabilities required to meet current and future warfighter needs.

Current and future test capabilities, such as the LGTF’s new revolutionary missionized tire wear testing, will increase innovation, shorten acquisition cycles and reduce flight risks. Reducing landing gear related mishaps and maintenance requirements, also increases mission capability and reduces operations and maintenance costs. Improved survivability assessments, new vulnerability reduction techniques and advanced live fire test capabilities will further help ensure platform survivability and increase mission capability. The 704 TG/OL-AC’s early involvement in the design and prototype development phases (risk reduction) will continue to improve systems designs prior to production and fielding, yielding more robust and survivable systems for the warfighter.