The 72nd Test and Evaluation Squadron - testing for success

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Keenan Berry
  • 509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The B-2 Spirit is the world's most-feared weapon system, but it would not be so without the 72nd Test and Evaluation Squadron ensuring its ability to fight.
The 72nd TES has the essential job of evaluating and implementing new equipment, software and weapon systems specifically for the B-2 fleet.

"We test avionic computers and software to verify they function properly," said Tech. Sgt. Nathan Davis, 72nd TES maintenance systems administrator. "All equipment must be tested before it is used operationally. The equipment is sent down from its respective manufacturers to our shop. We receive test plans via email from Air Force Global Strike Command regarding equipment to be tested and evaluated. Within the test plans is information regarding the equipment's use, purpose and why it will be installed in the jet."

After the TES shop members receive the test plans, they review those plans and send an email with suggested changes informing AFGSC on what they do and do not agree with. After AFGSC revises the plans, they send modification paperwork along with the equipment.

Once the TES has discussed the aspects regarding the jet's needs and flying requirements for the pilots' assigned mission, the production section of the shop gives the information to the maintainers on the flightline. They also coordinate with the maintainers to run tests on the aircraft.

The TES shop members organize a timeline for the production section to tell how long it will take for the equipment to be installed on the jet and tested to ensure it operates properly.

"To evaluate and ensure the new equipment works, we need to test it on the aircraft," said Staff Sgt. William Sullivan, 72nd TES avionic evaluator. "This can be difficult because it cuts into flying hours, which delays the mission."

If the equipment fails to meet criteria, the 72nd TES shop will perform "work- arounds" (if the equipment does not work, they will find a way to test it) and inform pilots how to fly the jets.

Next, the 72nd TES shop implements a series of tests consisting of maintenance ground and flight testing.

Maintenance ground testing involves the 72nd TES loading the equipment and software onto the aircraft for testing. They use the modification paperwork to ensure the equipment matches what is on paper. They also perform maintenance checks such as pre-flight and operation checks, as well as a built-in test that is installed in the equipment and software.

Flight testing involves the aircraft flying within a simulated range so the 72nd TES shop can engage in a multitude of different tests to observe how the equipment and software will work. During this testing they will send a signal to the jet to ensure the software and equipment respond properly while in flying conditions.

The 72nd TES is divided into three shops: The A shop, which handles radar communication navigation; the B shop, which handles guidance and communications flight control; and the C shop, which handles electronic warfare defensive avionics.

"The A shop deals with radios, radar and systems on the aircraft," said Staff Sgt. Jaret Waggoner, 72nd TES network systems administrator. "The B shop handles flight control computers and actuators, and the C shop is behind technical systems organizing tests.
All the shops control, repair and fix the computers on the jet."

Aside from the technical aspects of the 72nd TES shop, they find pride and honor in knowing their job contributes significantly to the mission.

"Essentially, our duty is to ensure that all equipment operates properly to aid pilots in successfully completing their tasks," said Sullivan. "I am proud to be a part of a passionate team who is willing to see the job gets done!"