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Critical testing ensures space systems work properly

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Jeff Liang
  • 14th Test Squadron
 New systems in Air Force Space Command are expensive, complex and sometimes difficult to fix.

Ensuring they work correctly and meet the needs of the user are the Regular Air Force's 17th Test Squadron and its fully integrated counterpart, Air Force Reserve Command's 14th Test Squadron. Together, these squadrons work to provide independent assessments of new systems and provide AFSPC senior leaders with fielding recommendations.

Since acquiring highly complex systems can take several years, active-duty people often leave for another assignment before completion of a project.

Reservists usually stay in place much longer. As a result, they provide critical continuity throughout the test and bring extensive experience and expertise to the process.

This year has been particularly busy for people in the testing community. They completed upgrades to the Nuclear Detonation Detection System; worked with Combat SkySat, a rapidly deployable system designed to provide extended-range UHF/EHF communications to units in-theater; and tested a new command-and-control system for Global Positioning System ground stations. They also supported strategic and theater missile warning system upgrades in Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station.

Test results on these systems have validated new capabilities. For example, the Nuclear Detonation Detection System now uses data from the Defense Support Program, providing better resolution of nuclear detonations.

For Combat SkySat, deficiencies uncovered during testing drove extensive engineering upgrades to the payload and platform. These upgrades have made the system more valuable to the warfighter through increased range and improved system life expectancy during operations.

Airmen from both squadrons have deployed to several locations in support of these tests.

"Their efforts ensure warfighters receive systems that meet their requirements," said Lt. Col. Scott Jokerst, 14th Test Squadron commander. "In fact, one test had to be halted when testers identified several serious deficiencies that needed to be fixed."

Not testing some systems could significantly affect the warfighters' ability to accomplish their mission, said Colonel Jokerst.

"Rigorous operational testing ensures system capabilities match the warfighters' expectations," he said. "Critical systems must work the first time, and the teamwork from the men and women of the 17th and 14th Test Squadrons provide commanders with the confidence to use those systems on a daily basis." (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)