18th Flight Test Squadron [18th FLTS]
The 18th Flight Test Squadron tests and evaluates special operations and combat rescue aircraft and associated equipment. It reports directly to Headquarters, AFSOC. It conducts operational test and evaluation in support of every type and model of AFSOC aircraft.
The 18th FLTS conducts operational tests under realistic wartime scenarios to determine whether or not the suitability of equipment, concepts, tactics, and procedures meets designated operational requirements. Testing conducted by the 18th includes evaluation of operational effectiveness, maintenance suitability, as well as human performance factors.
Many of the tests are joint command and joint service programs. The 18th also conducts test and evaluation for DOD and other government agencies in both a supporting role and as a lead agency.
The 18th FLTS replaced Headquarters, Special Missions Operational Test and Evaluation Center (HQ SMOTEC).
The Tactics Development division, created on October 1, 1994, maximizes the utility of new equipment and enhances AFSOC's tactical capabilities through tactics development and evaluation. This new division is responsible for hosting the annual AFSOC Tactics Conference and developing and updating the AFSOC Tactics Manual.
Detachment 1, 18th Flight Test Squadron, stationed at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, MD, was the lead test unit for the US Air Force of the V-22 Osprey. Among the 17-member Air Force team are find three AFSOC flight engineers who are running the Osprey through a multitude of checklists on the ground and in the air to ensure it meets the operational needs of the AFSOC community. One requirement for the flight engineers' participation was that they be certified to fly by the Marine Corps and thus be qualified on the H-53E and CH-46.
The 18th Flight Test Squadron was originally constituted as the 18th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 20 November 1940. It activated on 15 January 1941 at Langley Field, VA, assigned to the 34th Bombardment Group. The squadron was tasked with conducting antisubmarine patrols, from December 1941-October 1942.
It was redesignated as the 18th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, on 20 August 1943. Prior to relocating to Mendlesham, England, on 23 April 1944, the squadron had been station at Pendleton Field, OR (27 January 1942); Davis-Monthan Field, AZ (13 May 1942); Geiger Field, WA (4 July 1942); Ephrata AAB, WA (1 December 1942); Blythe AAFld, CA (7 December 1942); Salinas AAB, CA (c. 29 May 1943 (operated from Kern Co Aprt, Bakersfield, CA, 22 June-13 July 1943)); Blythe AAFld, CA (13 July 1943-c. 2 April 1944). The 18th saw combat in ETO, from 23 May 1944-20 April 1945. It inactivated on 28 August 1945 at Sioux Falls AAFld, SD.
It was consolidated on 19 September 1985 with the 18th Special Operations Squadron, which was constituted on 18 January 1969. It activated on 25 January 1969 at Lockbourne AFB, OH. Assigned to the 1st Special Operations Wing, the squadron operated the AC-119 aircraft. It was reassigned to the 4410th Combat Crew Training Wing, on 15 July 1969; to the 14th Special Operations Wing, on 1 October 1969, relocating that same month to Phan Rang AB, South Vietnam; and to the 56th Special Operations Wing, on 25 Aug 1971. Before inactivating on 31 December 1972 at Nakhon Phanom RTAFB, Thailand, the squadron saw Combat in Southeast Asia, from 13 November 1969-2 November 1972.
Redesignated as the 18th Test Squadron on 1 July 1991, it reactivated on 15 July 1991 at Edwards AFB, CA, under the Special Missions Operational Test and Evaluation Center, tasked with testing the development of the AC-130U. Redesignated as the 18th Flight Test Squadron on 23 March 1994, it inactivated on 1 April 1994.
The 18th GLTS reactivated taht same day under Air Force Special Operations Command at Hulburt Field.