The squadron conducts Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) flights of tactical fighter systems and develops and tests tactics, techniques and concepts. The 85th TES conducts these missions for air-to-ground munitions, air-to-air missiles, electronic warfare systems, chemical defense systems and associated subcomponents and avionics. Besides this task, the squadron also flies Tactics Development and Evaluation (TD&E) missions for air-to-air and air-to-ground units throughout the combat air forces. New weapons and tactics are therefore tested by this unit first before they are being released to the operational units.
F-16 operations within the squadron started with its activation in 1991. F-16s had been flying for a longer period of time with the 4485th FS, which was disbanded in favour of the 85th TES. In the early stages, the squadron was equipped with block 30 and block 40 airframes. But gradually, the block 30 airframes were replaced by block 50 examples, which form the majority of the current inventory. Together with the F-16, the unit also flies A-10 and F-15 aircraft. Occasionally other types are flown as well for specific testing purposes.
USAF F-16D block 40 #90-0799
from the 85th TES is spotted on approach at Meacham Field in Fort Worth on May 30th, 2008. [Photo by Keith Robinson