June 1, 2006 (by Christopher Ball) - Members of the 416th Flight Test Squadron worked with the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center to conduct testing of the block 30 F-16 Software Capability Upgrade.
An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center in Tucson, Ariz., flies a test acceleration sortie over Edwards while loaded with Joint Directed Attack Munitions and AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles. The aircraft was testing SCU-6 software upgrades for the Block 30 F-16s.
While many airmen were demonstrating their ability to survive and operate in a hostile environment at Camp Corum during the recent operational readiness exercise, a group of testers at Edwards AFB
were busy demonstrating another facet of the Air Force Flight Test Center's wartime mission.
Members of the 416th Flight Test Squadron worked closely with the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center in Tucson, Ariz., to conduct accelerated developmental testing of the block 30
F-16 Software Capability Upgrade 6.
Block 30 F-16 aircraft are used by Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active Air Force units.
The upgrade will improve many aspects of the aircraft's warfighting capabilities, to include its survivability, weapons capacity and weapons' effectiveness.
"Basically, the payload of Joint Directed Attack Munition that the aircraft can carry has been doubled," said Maj. John Kruzinauskas, chief of warfighter integration capability for the Air National Guard. "We've also upgraded to the AIM-9X dynamic launch zone, enabling more accurate and effective engagements, and more stand-off range."
According to Steve Salas, the acting test acceleration project manager, the operational readiness exercise tests acceleration allowed the team to sharpen its business processes, testing and planning skills as well as obtain an increased resource priority for the program.
"All the time and effort expended on this exercise allows us to hone our skills for realworld requirements," he said.
During a normal program, an execution rate of eight sorties per month is the norm, however, the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center deployment portion of Software Capability Upgrade 6 testing consisted of approximately 20 sorties in eight days.
"Many team members put in 12-hour work days to meet the aggressive flying schedule, overall everything went extremely well" said Salas.
"There was a lot of teamwork and cooperation between the Edwards and Tucson personnel to make this happen," said 1st Lt. John Whichelow, deputy program manager.
Flights are only a portion of the test planning. Capt. Michael Dostie, an operations engineer with the 416th Flight Test Squadron, was responsible for looking at the test objectives, determining the resources needed and putting together the flight schedule. "Resources included ranges, control rooms, frequency allocations, weapons requirements and aircrews," he said.
To support the test, a group of more than 24 maintainers and engineers from the Air National Guard Air Force Reserve Command Test Center, along with two aircraft, deployed to Edwards, Salas said.
Kruzinauskas emphasized that the Block 30 F-16, although primarily used by the Guard and Reserve, is not just a Guard jet.
"We support the 'Whole Air Force' concept. These aircraft are out there flying Homeland Defense, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom," he said.