Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center

Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name= Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center

caption= Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center emblem
dates= 1 January 1974
country= United States
branch= United States Air Force
type= Direct Reporting Unit
command_structure= Chief of Staff, United States Air Force
garrison= Kirtland Air Force Base
equipment= see "Aircraft / Missiles / Space Vehicles" section below
decorations= see "Lineage and Honors" section below
current_commander= Major General Stephen T. Sargeant
current_commander_label= Current Commander
ceremonial_chief= Colonel John H. Pearson
ceremonial_chief_label= Current Vice-Commander

Located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center is a direct reporting unit of Headquarters, United States Air Force. Employing approximately 1,100 military, civilian and contractor personnel divided into six detachments among more than 20 operating locations, it is tasked with the testing and evaluation of new weapons systems in realistic battlespace environments, and assessing the capability of new systems to meet warfighter needs. AFOTEC provides decision makers with accurate, balanced, and complete assessments of mission capability. From concept development to system fielding, AFOTEC maintains an operational focus to ensure U.S. warfighters have "the right tools to win tomorrow’s battles". Established as a separate operating agency on 1 January 1974, its status changed to a direct reporting unit on 5 February 1991.


From [ the AFOTEC web site] :

"The Beginning
"Like today’s Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, the Air Proving Ground was independent of the developer and reported directly to the Chief of Staff. Created in 1941 by the Army Air Corps, the Air Proving Ground tested new aircraft in their operational roles as they came off the assembly lines. Unlike the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center the Air Proving Ground did not involve itself with the early development of the weapon systems it tested. In 1948 shortly after the Air Force gained its independence from the Army, the Air Proving Ground became the Air Proving Ground Command, one of the major commands of the fledgling United States Air Force. The Air Proving Ground Command conducted realistic testing on new weapons until 1957 when it was abolished by the Air Force due to budget cuts. What little remained of the old Air Proving Ground Command became a small test center that evolved into today’s Air Armament Center located at Eglin AFB, Florida. From 1958 to 1973, the United States Air Force relied on decentralized operational testing conducted by the major commands. The existing alignment of Air Force test and evaluation responsibilities appeared to pose a conflict of interest detrimental to objective decision making. Often the emphasis for using commands was the quick deployment of weapons systems rather than thoroughly testing them and rendering impartial evaluations. This emphasis became clear during the Vietnam conflict between 1965 and 1970 when, according to Department of Defense conducted studies, 21 of 22 major weapon systems in use at that time suffered severe operational deficiencies in the field.

"Air Force Test and Evaluation Center Established
"From 1970 to 1973 several committees, commissions, and other government entities examined the problem of independent operational test and evaluation. In July 1970 the Blue Ribbon Defense Panel concluded that operational test and evaluation was most effective when the testing organization reported directly to the Chief of the Services and represented both the developer and the user, but remained organizationally independent. Later in September 1970, the Bolender Committee study recommended developing an Air Force program that integrated essential operational test and evaluation requirements and served as the basis for Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation. Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Packard directed in July 1971, that results of operational testing would be evaluated and presented to the Defense Systems Acquisition Review Council at the production decision milestone. Later, in November 1971, Congress, in Public Law 92-156, required that beginning with Calendar Year 1973 an operational test and evaluation report be prepared for each weapon system that requested funds for procurement. The Commission on Government Procurement, in December 1972, recommended the establishment of an operational test and evaluation activity independent of the developer and user organizations, similar to the old Air Proving Ground Command. The General Accounting Office in March 1973 recommended the establishment of an operational test and evaluation activity in each military department independent of the developer and user. Based on this recommendation the Chief of Staff of the Air Force ordered the establishment of the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center in late 1973. The Air Force activated the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center in January 1974 at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, and the Center became fully operational later that same year in October 1974. The new test center’s charter avoided creation of another Air Proving Ground Command, the large major command that had been responsible for operational testing and evaluation from 1948 to1957. The Chief of Staff of the Air Force restricted the size and scope of the new center and allowed the major commands to retain the majority of operational test and evaluation programs. The Air Force Test and Evaluation Center started its operational career as a small management headquarters that focused on the evaluation of major weapon systems, such as the E-3A Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System, one of the first systems the Center operationally tested, as well as monitoring smaller acquisition programs. In July 1976 the Air Force revised its test and evaluation regulations. These revisions eliminated duplicate testing responsibilities; fixed responsibility for overall management of test and evaluation; assured dedicated initial operational test and evaluation as early as possible; and confirmed the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center’s control over operational test and evaluation team resources during specific initial operational test and evaluation programs. In 1983 the Air Force added “Operational” to the center’s name to more accurately describe its mission. In late 1991, the Air Force broadened the responsibilities of the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center to encompass operational test and evaluation programs previously conducted by the major commands. In 1997, the Center’s mission expanded further when the advanced concept and other non-traditional testing programs formerly conducted by the Defense Evaluation Support Activity were realigned under the Center.

"Air Force Test and Evaluation Center Today
"Today the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center oversees six detachments, four of which are geographically separated from the headquarters at Kirtland AFB, and other remote operating locations scattered across the United States. From its first involvement with the E-3A Sentry, the Center has conducted operational testing and evaluation on such current Air Force acquisition programs as the F/A-22 Raptor, CV-22 Osprey, and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. But, these are only a few of the hundreds of test programs that the Center has been or is currently involved with. For more than three decades, the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center has been the focal point for operational testing and evaluation and has contributed significantly to the successful acquisition and operational employment of numerous weapon and support systems for all branches of the armed forces, other governmental agencies, and our allies."


AFOTEC assesses the capability of new systems to meet warfighter needs by planning, executing and reporting independent operational evaluations. From concept development through system employment, AFOTEC provides effectiveness, suitability and operational impact expertise in the battlespace environment.

AFOTEC employs approximately 1,100 military, civilian, and contractor personnel at its headquarters, six detachments at Edwards AFB, Calif., Eglin AFB, Fla., Nellis AFB, Nev., Peterson AFB, Colo. and Kirtland AFB, N.M.; and more than 20 operating locations. The commander of AFOTEC reports directly to the chief of staff of the Air Force.

Test teams conduct tests at selected sites; collect, analyze and evaluate the data and prepare formal reports. The teams are managed by AFOTEC and include personnel from the operating and supporting commands who will eventually employ these systems.

Test Program

AFOTEC's independent and objective evaluations of how well systems will meet operational requirements provide a vital link between the developer and user. They are key elements of the system acquisition approval process.

Operational tests are designed to address critical issues regarding a system's performance in combat-like environments when operated by field personnel. They seek to answer questions about how safe, effective, reliable, maintainable, compatible and logistically supportable new Air Force systems will be.

The results of AFOTEC's tests, normally conducted on prototype and pre-production models, play an important role in Air Force and DOD acquisition decisions. Test results also identify deficiencies requiring corrective action.

Lineage and Honors

The Air Force activated the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center as a separate operating agency reporting directly to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force on 1 January 1974 at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. The Center achieved initial operational capability in April 1974 and full operational capability by October 1974.

On 4 April 1983, the Center was redesignated the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center to clearly delineate its role as the Air Force's operational test agency. The Air Force redesignated AFOTEC a direct reporting unit to the CSAF 5 February 1991. Later in 1991, the Air Force broadened AFOTEC's responsibilities by re-assigning all initial, qualification and selected follow-on operational tests and evaluations from the major commands to the Center.

AFOTEC's test and evaluation mission further expanded in 1997 when the Center absorbed the "non-traditional" testing mission of the disbanded Defense Evaluation Support Activity.


AFOTEC's mission success is reflected in its receipt of "seven" Air Force Organizational Excellence Awards



Approved on 25 September 1974, the AFOTEC emblem features four blue and gold deltoids. The deltoids are symbolic of the Air Force acting as an instrument of national policy and represent four fundamental military objectives of the United States: to deter aggression; to resolve conflicts on favorable terms; to achieve national objectives; and to promote a secure international environment. The blue-gold deltoid color scheme divides the four fundamental tasks into eight equal segments which signify major operational tasks assigned to the Air Force: 1) strategic air warfare; 2) counter air; 3) air interdiction; 4) close air support; 5) aerospace defense; 6) air reconnaissance; 7) electronic warfare; and 8) airlift. The ultramarine blue segments represent the sky (near earth) which is the primary environment for Air Force operations. The golden yellow segments represent the sun (directionally depicted rising from the east and setting in the west as indicated by the deltoids) and the excellence required of Center personnel. White contrails, which trail the deltoids, signify the test and evaluation process that follows concept formulation, validation, and full-scale development of systems and equipment. The red scales portray AFOTEC’s impartial and independent assessment of a system’s value when weighed against the fundamental military tasks and Air Force roles and missions. Heraldic Description: Light blue, issuing from base four contrails palewise argent terminating below four deltoids ascending, one in dexter flank, two in chief and one in sinister flank, the dexter two or and azure, and the sinister two of the like and or; surmounting the vapor trails a pair of scales gules, all within a diminished bordure gold.


Direct Reporting Unit to the Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force


Command section

# Office of the Command (Commander) (CC)
# Office of the Vice (Vice-Commander) (CV). Mission: Be the Center's corporate business operations manager. Oversee the Planning, Programming, and Policy (XP), the Directorate of History and Research (HO), Resource Management and Support (RM), Mission Support (SC), and Personnel (DP) Directorates' activities. Serve as the senior advisor to the Commander and supervise small business, security forces, and safety.

Command support

# (CCE)
# (CCM)
# Commander's Action Group (CCX). Mission: Provide a "single-face-to-the-customer" liaison to improve communications with, and responsiveness to, external organizations, and to enhance internal communications within AFOTEC. Increases AFOTEC focus on both internal and external (Director, Operational Test and Evaluation, Air Force Test and Evaluation, etc.) taskings. Reports directly to the Commander.


# Legal Counsel (LC). Mission: Serve as the legal counsel to the Commander and staff. Prepare, review and assist in the preparation of directives which affect the AFOTEC mission. Render legal opinions on proposed projects of the organization. Provide legal advice to the directors and staff on the execution of the OT&E mission. Interpret statutes that affect the operation of the organization. Interface with senior legal advisors in the Air Force and other federal agencies and private industry and presents AFOTEC’s legal position on matters of mutual concern.
# Safety (SE). Mission: Provide maximum protection consistent with mission including impartial and accurate safety assessments, with systematic elimination/control of all identified hazards.
# Inspector General (IG). Mission: Sustain a credible Air Force IG system at AFOTEC by ensuring the existence of responsive complaint investigations, and Fraud, Waste and Abuse programs characterized by objectivity, integrity and impartiality. Motto: "An ombudsman, fact-finder, honest broker, and advocate of justice"

Mission support

# Directorate of Personnel (DP). Mission: Establish and provide effective personnel and manpower programs to support AFOTEC people and OT&E mission success.
# History Office (History and Research Directorate) (HO). Mission: Collect, organize, and preserve AFOTEC's historical record; provide historical products and services; and maintain a reference library and archives. Motto: "Maintain the Record and Provide the Perspective for AFOTEC to Know it's Past, Understand it's Present, and Anticipate its Future."
# Resource Management (RM). Mission: Provide full spectrum support for Headquarters AFOTEC, Detachments, and Directorates as they perform the operational test mission. RM is a composite Directorate that provides contracting support, facilities management, logistics assistance, financial management and accounting services. All of these activities must be centrally managed to assure conformance with applicable laws, DoD and AF regulations, and AFOTEC policies and procedures.
# Communication and Information (SC). Mission: Provide relevant support and expertise in information, technology, assurance, operations, management, and presentation, enabling the successful accomplishment of the AFOTEC mission.
# Small Business Office (SB). Mission: Promote opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses to support the AFOTEC mission. Be the champion for these businesses to be prime and sub-contractors in providing the wide spectrum of technical and business services. Strive to meet Air Force small business goals through strategic planning and aggressive management actions.
# Public Affairs (CCPA). Mission: Advise the commander and staff on all public affairs matters affecting AFOTEC. Manages the internal information program, public information program (including media relations), community relations program, and security and policy review program for the command. Monitor all AFOTEC-conducted and monitored programs for possible public affairs implications. Serve as a focal point and coordinates all PA matters with Air Force and other DoD and civilian agencies. Determine releaseability of program-related materials based on security and policy considerations.
# Protocol (CCP). Mission: Provide functional, timely, and useful guidance on protocol to the AFOTEC commander, directorates, field units, and other members of the Headquarters staff. Provide first class hospitality services, enabling Headquarters, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, to be an outstanding host to its distinguished visitors. Assist all AFOTEC members in commemorating and celebrating diverse, significant events by helping them plan dignified, professional ceremonies and social activities, such as retirements, promotions, memorializations, hail and farewells, and changes of command.
# Project Management (CVM). Mission: Provide AFOTEC leaders and test teams with standardized project management tools and methodologies that facilitate the efficient and effective execution of AFOTEC’s mission. Ensure test directors and organizational leaders are consistently applying the appropriate methodologies, tools, and techniques essential to provide disciplined project management across AFOTEC. Provide advice/guidance to test teams and leaders, mentor correct project management practices and facilitate project plan development, execution, and control. Provide oversight for policies, procedures, and methodologies that will be used by AFOTEC test directors in managing their test projects. Develop and provide appropriate levels of project management training.
# Security Office (SF). Mission: Provide HQ AFOTEC staff, detachments and operating locations with timely, clear and accurate security guidance, effective oversight, and responsive assistance on security issues.


# Personnel and Training (Test and Evaluation [T&E] University) (A1). Mission: Provide the best initial and continuation training and education opportunities available to ensure mission success and enhance professional development.
# Intelligence, Analysis and Assessments (A2A9). Mission: Provide technical capabilities and information needed to scope, plan, execute, and report independent OT&E and other AFOTEC activities. Includes experts in the following fields: intelligence, analysis, human factors, weather, and modeling/simulation.
# Operations (A3). Mission: Direct AFOTEC operations and processes which define and accomplish Air Force OT&E programs (including non-traditional assessments (NTA) and OT&E related activities).
#: As owner of the Early Involvement, Scope Cost, and Product Delivery Processes, this directorate must define the processes (policy and procedures) and ensure (through tasking and periodic review) they are followed in execution. The Operations Directorate is the focal point for all AFOTEC operations. In this capacity, this directorate recommends to the Commander assignment of all programs (OT&E, NTA, OT&E related) within AFOTEC's organizational elements, identifies scope and funding boundaries, and approves revisions of program scope and dollars beyond the initially assigned bounds. This directorate also must establish procedures and guidelines for maintaining programmatic information in the AFOTEC Management Information Network.
# Plans and Programs (A5A8). Mission: Responsible to the AFOTEC Commander for improved effectiveness, efficiency, resourcing, and respect of AFOTEC in providing value-added operational test and evaluation contributions to the Air Force modernization process.
# Installation Support (A7): Mission: Responsible for mission support functions including: contracting, facility security, civil engineering, financial management and budgeting.


Detachment 1 (DET1)

Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico Inactivated 2007

Detachment 2 (DET2)

Eglin Air Force Base, Florida (ARM/E W/SOF) Mission: Evaluate operational system(s) mission capability, effectiveness, and suitability for Air Force and multiservice users by conducting impartial and realistic operational evaluations and assessments.

Detachment 3 (DET3)

Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico (C4ISR) Mission: Provide warfighters and decision makers timely, relevant, accurate information by evaluating the operational performance and capabilities of C4ISR weapons systems in the battlespace environment.

Detachment 4 (DET4)

Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado (Space/Msl/Msl Def) Mission: Operationally test space, missile, and missile defense capabilities in the battlespace environment for the warfighter.

Detachment 5 (DET5)

Edwards Air Force Base, California (ACFT EW Sys) Mission: Ensure our warfighters and logisticians have the right tools for the job… permitting them to effectively and safely accomplish their mission.

Detachment 6 (DET6)

Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada (F-22A) Mission: To be recognized as the premiere aircraft OT&E team in military aviation.


;Operating locations:
# Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado (SBIRS)
# Clear Air Force Station, Alaska (BMEWS)
# Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi (T-38 Avionics)
# Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona (Compass Call)
# Hanscom Air Force Base, Massachusetts, (C4I Systems)
# Hill Air Force Base, Utah (Minuteman)
# Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico (F-117)
# Huntsville, Alabama (SBIRS & NMD)
# Hurlburt Field, Florida (Special Ops Systems)
# Kelly Air Force Base, Texas (AFIWC)
# Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi (C-130J)
# Melbourne, Florida (JSTARS)
# Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland (CV-22)
# Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada (Aircraft, Munitions, etc.)
# Patrick Air Force Base, Florida (Space Launch & Range)
# Randolph Air Force Base, Texas (JPATS)
# Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado (Ballistic Missile Defense)
# Tucson International Airport, Arizona (Guard/Reserve Sys)
# Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida (R/SAOC)
# Vandenberg Air Force Base, California (ICBM, Space Launch & Range)
# Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio (F-22)


Major General John J. Burns - 25 Feb 1974 - 25 Aug 1974

Major General Richard G. Cross, Jr - 26 Aug 1974 - 31 Aug 1975

Colonel Stephen E. Moore - 1 Sep 1975 - 8 Nov 1975

Major General Robert A. Rushworth - 9 Nov 1975 - 30 Sep 1976

Major General Howard W. Leaf - 1 Oct 1976 - 31 May 1980

Major General Wayne E. Whitlatch - 1 Jun 1980 - 26 May 1982

Major General Richard W. Phillips, Jr - 27 May 1982 - 29 Aug 1985

Major General Michael D. Hall - 30 Aug 1985 - 30 Jun 1987

Major General Cecil W. Powell - 1 Jul 1987 - 18 Jan 1990

Major General Peter D. Robinson - 19 Jan 1990 - 17 Jul 1991

Major General Marcus A. Anderson - 18 Jul 1991 - 22 Nov 1993

Colonel John A. Judd - 23 Nov 1993 - 12 Dec 1993

Major General George B. Harrison - 13 Dec 1993 - 22 Jun 1997

Colonel Roger C. Locher (interim)- 11 Dec 1996 - 18 Dec 1996

Major General Jeffrey G. Cliver - 23 Jun 1997 - 2 Mar 2000

Major General William A. Peck Jr. - 2 Mar 2000 - 25 Feb 2003

Major General Felix Dupré - 26 Feb 2003 - 28 Apr 2005

Colonel Alison R. Hill - 29 Apr 2005 - 14 Jun 2005

Major General Robin E. Scott - 15 Jun 2005 - 31 May 2007

Colonel Alison R. Hill - 1 Jun 2007 - 11 Jul 2007

Major General Stephen T. Sargent - 12 Jul 2007 - PRESENT

Aircraft / Missiles / Space Vehicles



Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center History and Research Directorate

Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Chronology 1974 - 2005

Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Periodic Histories

Air Force Historical Research Agency

External links

* [ Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center website]
* [ Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center factsheet]
* [ Air Force Historical Research Agency: Direct Reporting Units]

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