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417th Flight Test Squadron stands up
The Airborne Laser program, formerly of the 452nd Flight Test Squadron, now falls under the 417th Flight Test Squadron, which was activated in a ceremony March 16, 2006. The 417th FLTS, comprised of about 750 people, including the contractor workforce and the government workforce, is responsible for flight testing the YAL-1A Airborne Laser aircraft, shown above. The aircraft is currently in Wichita, Kan., receiving modifications to the sub-structure of the aircraft to accommodate the integration of the weapons system. (Photo by Master Sgt. James Graham)
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417th Flight Test Squadron stands up

Posted 3/17/2006   Updated 12/6/2006 Email story   Print story

    


by Tech. Sgt. Eric M. Grill
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


3/17/2006 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A stand-up ceremony to recognize the 417th Flight Test Squadron was held Thursday at the Birk Flight Test Facility on South Base.

The 417th FLTS, under the command of Lt. Col. Barry St. Germain, is responsible for the Airborne Laser Program, formerly a part of the 452nd Flight Test Squadron's ABL Test Force.

"Standup of the squadron formalizes the priority of the program for the 412th Test Wing," Colonel St. Germain said.

The squadron will encompass about 750 people, including the contractor workforce and the government workforce together.

The ABL is an airborne-directed energy weapon system. The YAL-1A is a prototype that employs a highly-modified, 747-400 airframe equipped with sensors, lasers and sophisticated optics to find, track and destroy ballistic missiles in their boost, or ascent, phase, said Robert Suszek, program manager for the Airborne Laser.

Talking about the formation of the squadron, Mr. Suszek said, "It recognizes the autonomy of the mission.

"We're coming up on a milestone with weapons systems integration on the airplane and missile-shoot down," he said. "So as we come up on that, (the Air Force Flight Test Center) is recognizing that we're going to need our own engineering cadre, our own test planning cadre, (and) our own operations cadre. With that comes the squadron."

Currently the YAL-1A is in Wichita, Kan., receiving modifications to the sub-structure of the aircraft to accommodate the integration of the weapons system, which is scheduled for completion by the end of the calendar year, Mr. Suszek said.

The ABL is a component of Missile Defense Agency's boost-phase segment designed to destroy enemy missiles soon after they are launched to provide defense of the United States, its international allies, and its deployed troops.

The 417th Flight Test Squadron was originally activated here as the 6517th Test Squadron on March 10, 1989. It was dedicated to the C-17 Globemaster III test program. On Oct. 2, 1992, the squadron was re-designated the 417th Test Squadron, and on March 1, 1994, it became the 417th Flight Test Squadron. In October 1995, the squadron was inactivated and the C-17 program was consolidated with the 418th Flight Test Squadron.



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