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Eglin’s testers deploy to Alaska’s NORTHERN EDGE

JOINT PACIFIC ALASKA RANGE COMPLEX, Alaska – Two U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagles prepare for air-to-air refueling from a KC-10 Extender from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., May 11, 2017, in participation of Exercise Northern Edge 2017. The F-15E (right) is from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and the second F-15E (left) is from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. Northern Edge is Alaska’s largest and premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques and procedures, as well as enhance interoperability among the services. Thousands of participants from all the services—Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard personnel from active duty, Reserve and National Guard units—are involved. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

JOINT PACIFIC ALASKA RANGE COMPLEX, Alaska – Two U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagles prepare for air-to-air refueling from a KC-10 Extender from Travis Air Force Base, Calif., May 11, 2017, in participation of Exercise Northern Edge 2017. The F-15E (right) is from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and the second F-15E (left) is from Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England. Northern Edge is Alaska’s largest and premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques and procedures, as well as enhance interoperability among the services. Thousands of participants from all the services—Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard personnel from active duty, Reserve and National Guard units—are involved. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle, out of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., taxis after landing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during exercise Northern Edge 2017, May 11, 2017. With participants and assets from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint-training exercise designed to practice operations and enhance interoperability among the services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena)

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle, out of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., taxis after landing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during exercise Northern Edge 2017, May 11, 2017. With participants and assets from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint-training exercise designed to practice operations and enhance interoperability among the services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena)

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle with 46th Test Wing based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, disconnects from the fuel boom of a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender during an aerial refueling operation over the Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex in support of Northern Edge 2017, May 11, 2017. The exercise is Alaska’s largest and premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques and procedures as well as enhance interoperability among the services. The exercise provides real-world proficiency in detection and tracking of units at sea, in the air and on land and response to multiple crises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andy Martinez)

A U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle with 46th Test Wing based at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, disconnects from the fuel boom of a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender during an aerial refueling operation over the Joint Pacific-Alaska Range Complex in support of Northern Edge 2017, May 11, 2017. The exercise is Alaska’s largest and premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques and procedures as well as enhance interoperability among the services. The exercise provides real-world proficiency in detection and tracking of units at sea, in the air and on land and response to multiple crises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andy Martinez)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pilots from of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., taxi after landing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during exercise Northern Edge 2017, May 11, 2017. With participants and assets from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint-training exercise designed to practice operations and enhance interoperability among the services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena)

U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pilots from of Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., taxi after landing at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during exercise Northern Edge 2017, May 11, 2017. With participants and assets from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint-training exercise designed to practice operations and enhance interoperability among the services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena)

A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle from the 53rd Wing takes off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during exercise Northern Edge, May 11, 2017. With participants and assets from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint-training exercise designed to practice operations and enhance interoperability among the services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena)

A U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle from the 53rd Wing takes off from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during exercise Northern Edge, May 11, 2017. With participants and assets from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint-training exercise designed to practice operations and enhance interoperability among the services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena)

Visiting U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons, including ones from the 96th Test Wing and 53rd Wing, are staged on the flight line during exercise Northern Edge at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 11, 2017. With participants and assets from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint-training exercise designed to practice operations and enhance interoperability among the services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena)

Visiting U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagles and F-16 Fighting Falcons, including ones from the 96th Test Wing and 53rd Wing, are staged on the flight line during exercise Northern Edge at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 11, 2017. With participants and assets from the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard, Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint-training exercise designed to practice operations and enhance interoperability among the services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Pena)

An F-15 Eagle from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. takes off at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during exercise Northern Edge 17, May 3, 2017. Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques and procedures as well as enhance interoperability among the services. Thousands of participants from all the services – Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from active duty, Reserve and National Guard units – are involved. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Javier Alvarez)

An F-15 Eagle from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. takes off at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, during exercise Northern Edge 17, May 3, 2017. Northern Edge is Alaska’s premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques and procedures as well as enhance interoperability among the services. Thousands of participants from all the services – Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen from active duty, Reserve and National Guard units – are involved. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Javier Alvarez)

An Airman from the 96th Test Wing based out of Eglin Air Force Base waits for a U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle pilot to taxi onto the runway at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, for exercise Northern Edge 2017, May 5, 2017. This exercise is Alaska’s largest and premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques and procedures, as well as enhance interoperability among the services. The exercise provides real-world proficiency in detection and tracking of units at sea, in the air and on land and in response to multiple crises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andy Martinez)

An Airman from the 96th Test Wing based out of Eglin Air Force Base waits for a U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagle pilot to taxi onto the runway at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, for exercise Northern Edge 2017, May 5, 2017. This exercise is Alaska’s largest and premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques and procedures, as well as enhance interoperability among the services. The exercise provides real-world proficiency in detection and tracking of units at sea, in the air and on land and in response to multiple crises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Andy Martinez)

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., returns from the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex May 5, 2017, in support of Exercise Northern Edge 2017. Northern Edge is Alaska’s largest and premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques and procedures, as well as enhance interoperability among the services. Thousands of participants from all the services—Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard personnel from active duty, Reserve and National Guard units—are involved. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle from Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., returns from the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex May 5, 2017, in support of Exercise Northern Edge 2017. Northern Edge is Alaska’s largest and premier joint training exercise designed to practice operations, techniques and procedures, as well as enhance interoperability among the services. Thousands of participants from all the services—Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard personnel from active duty, Reserve and National Guard units—are involved. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. John Gordinier)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Aircraft from the 53rd Wing and 96th Test Wing deployed for a two-week exercise in Alaska to test F-15 and F-16 systems in a realistic threat environment.

The Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force teamed with a number of units across the 53rd WG and the 96th TW to execute F-15C, F-15E, and F-16 flight tests from April 25 to May 13.

“The OFP CTF team prides ourselves in getting our test programs to a safe and effective state and then smartly ‘throwing them in the deep end’ to see how these test programs do in an operationally relevant environment,” said Lt. Col. Michael Lynch, the OFP CTF commander. “Short of war, Northern Edge provides us with a near perfect playground to not just test our programs in a vacuum, but across an integrated, joint battlespace.”

More than 250 testers from 10 different operational test and developmental test squadrons participated in the exercise NORTHERN EDGE to test systems in the most combat-realistic environment available.

The unique airspace at the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex allows testing and training against the full-spectrum of contested, degraded, and operationally limited environments.

“The Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex is unlike any airspace in the world and fosters unfettered access to realistic, combat representative, large-scale joint operations testing and training,” said Lynch. “There is a reason that joint units across the globe travel to Alaska to sharpen their combat operations training.”

According to Lynch, the resources of time, money, or test capacity make it difficult to bring a test program or test point to a “perfect” state. However, the two-week exercise provided the best possible opportunity for units to wring out their systems in flight test.

“Northern Edge allows us to focus the test resources we do have on getting it right for the warfighter so we provide combatant commanders with the capabilities they want to achieve the effects they need,” said Lynch.

For this Northern Edge iteration, the OFP CTF tested a new computer for the F-15 called the Advanced Display Core Processor II, and its associated operational flight programs. For the Vipers, the team tested the newest F-16 OFP called M7.1.

The unit also teamed with various Eglin and Nellis squadrons to test a wide variety of weapons, tactics, electronic warfare, and datalink gateway devices that Lynch hopes to deliver to the warfighter soon.

The OFP CTF manages the end-to-end developmental and operational test requirements for F-15 and F-16 software and associated hardware changes.

“We consider ourselves a key partner in the 96th Test Wing and 53rd Wing relationship,” said Lynch. “We help ensure our developmental and operational testing efforts are laser-focused on bringing effective and suitable combat capability to the warfighter faster.”

The OFP CTF concept is still 14 years young, and provides a model for OT and DT integration and synchronization.

“I think the integrated test management model we execute is an exemplar template to explore across USAF platforms and mission sets,” said Lynch. “It’s vitally important that the acquisitions savvy of Air Force Materiel Command and the operational requirements articulated by Air Combat Command are in lock-step.  In the OFP CTF, we make sure these two are synced on a daily basis for the F-15 and F-16.”