28 JUNE \\ AEROSPACETESTINGINTERNATIONAL.COM
UK MILITARY FLIGHT TEST STRUCTURE
While the Air Warfare Centre at RAF Waddington,
Lincolnshire is the primary hub for the UK’s military
flight test process, operational evaluation and flight
test for different aircraft platforms is handled by
specialist units at RAF bases across the country.
The Rotary Wing Test & Evaluation Squadron is based
at MoD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire
206 (Heavy Aircraft Test & Evaluation) Squadron is
based at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire
17 (F-35B Lightning Operational Test & Evaluation)
Squadron is based at Edwards Air Force Base, California
41 (Test & Evaluation) Squadron is equipped with the
Typhoon at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire
56 (ISTAR Test & Evaluation) Squadron is based at
“Understanding how to tie an
isolation unit down in a C-17 is
something that can be
loads and loading transport aircraft,” says Davies.
“If there’s a new piece of equipment that hasn’t been
hung under a helicopter before, JADTEU will provide
clearance for it.”
Much of the AWC’s work involves long-term trials
completed according to a planned schedule over weeks,
months or even years. But its units also react to new
Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs), emerging
problems that are passed back from the front line.
Davies says, “There are programs where a substantial
period of time passes between the inception of the
capability and its first operational mission, the F-35 and
A400, for example. We work closely with industry,
reaching back into the industrial base during the very
early flight test development sorties, through to delivery
on the front line.
“If there are subsequent upgrades or capability
enhancements we perform rapid capability insertion,
either independently through the AWC, or with our
QinetiQ partners. Depending on the nature of the
requirement, this can be achieved in as little as 24 hours.
2 // A test parachutist exits
a C-130J at high altitude
during free-fall trials of the
Oxygen Mask Attachment
System (Photo: Sgt Beach/
3 // A helicopter underslung
load flight trial, proving the
technique for lifting a Rigid
Hull Inflatable Boat and
trailer (Photo: Cpl Parnham/
and flight test now assigned to single squadrons, and
complex related tasks centralized to maximize efficiency.
A similar structure has yet to be enforced on the
helicopter fleets. “In terms of aircrew and aircraft they’re
independent from the AWC, but they’ll come here for our
expertise on trials covering electronic warfare.
“The Royal Air Force has most of its heavy aircraft at
the Brize Norton base, so it makes sense to put the Test &
Evaluation Squadron there. It’s the same with the fast
jets, with 41 Squadron at Coningsby, for example, but
helicopter basing is more dispersed,” says Davies.
Some AWC units neither operate nor own aircraft and
instead trial and evaluate aspects of their operation.
Based at Brize Norton alongside 206 Squadron, the Joint
Airborne Delivery Trials & Evaluation Unit (JADTEU,
pronounced ‘Jad-Two’) offers specialist capabilities. “It
looks after anything that can be hung under, carried by
or dropped out of any of our helicopters or heavy aircraft,
from the airborne and ground perspectives. It covers
high- and low-altitude parachuting, supporting all
defense organizations, through to helicopter underslung