Getting to know the GSU

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EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. - The 96th Test Wing has a Texas-based cyberspace test squadron that’s the principal Air Force organization for developmental test of cyberspace weapons systems.

Meet the 47th Cyberspace Test Squadron.  They are located at Joint Base San Antonio Lackland and are considered a geographically separated unit of the wing and their group, the 96th Cyberspace Test Group, headquartered here.

Their commander, Lt. Col. Phillip Hartnett leads a mix of military, civilian and contract employees.  The squadron’s mission is to test the nation’s offensive and defensive cyber operations capabilities.

The 47 CTS accomplishes its mission by being closely linked and imbedded in various software factories and software development entities. They support the software acquisition community through the cyber weapons testing of payloads (an offensive capability to cause an effect to an enemy computer or network), accesses (the digital or virtual avenue of attack into an enemy network), and platforms (the software or computer that cyber operators launch a defensive or offensive cyber-attack from).  They also provide imbedded Test Support for software development efforts and virtual environments to test software in a realistic scenario as possible.

They accomplish their mission with a mix of Air Force Test Center instruction and policy, commercial standards, and industry best practices.  Industry best practices include the agile software development methodology and DevSecOps strategies.  The agile software development strategy helps teams deliver value and products to operators faster through flexibility, by providing smaller chunks of capabilities more quickly.  DevSecOps stands for development, security, and operations. Instead of adding security measures onto a piece of software at the end of its creation, security is included throughout the process providing a more secure product for government networks. 

To accomplish this, the squadron’s test engineers imbed with developers to test software earlier in the creative process and provide meaningful feedback to get the best products out to the cyber operators.

The squadron’s origins began with the 46th Test Squadron Detachment 2 established in 2004. Due to the size and the unique mission of the detachment, it was established as its own squadron in 2017 as the 47th CTS.