More study needed before moving test wing to Edwards

first_imgA proposal to move portions of a test wing from Florida to Edwards Air Force Base is still alive, but requires more study because of potential risks of losing test and evaluation capabilities, according to congressional and Air Force leaders. Air Force officials said an initial study of the idea conducted by the Rand Corp. showed potential savings in moving the 46th Test Wing from Eglin Air Force Base to Edwards. The Air Force would not release the study, but did issue a statement stating the proposal would require further analysis. “The analysis results confirmed that consolidation may provide some cost benefit to the (Air Force),” said John Manclark, director of Air Force Test and Evaluation. “But we can’t afford not to get this right, so we will take the time to further study the risks to the warfighter before considering implementation.” The proposal to move portions of the test wing is one of several options being looked at by Air Force Materiel Command to cut costs. After leaks to the news media, the Air Force acknowledged the proposal was under consideration, prompting Florida civic leaders to rally against the idea. The 46th Test Wing performs test and evaluation work on air-launched systems and uses A-10, F-15, and F-16 aircraft. The unit also operates a climatic laboratory in which aircraft can be tested in a variety of simulated weather conditions. The unit has roughly 3,500 personnel, with about 960 of that total being military service members. The proposal would involve moving about 700 of those military positions. “Given the insight provided by the analysis, the Air Force will continue to study the issue and work with Congress to find the right way ahead for Air Force test,” said Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff. “Budget pressures and 16 years of continuous Air Force combat operations leave us with little choice but to consider serious options to gain efficiencies.” Before any consolidation action can be taken, two additional reports required by the 2007 Defense Authorizations Act Conference Report must be delivered to Congress, the Air Force statement said. Florida lawmakers were able to put the proposal on hold last year by inserting language into the 2007 defense appropriations bill blocking any funds from being used to transfer test and evaluation assets from Eglin. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said the Rand study shows the Air Force was moving too hastily with the proposal. “And the study says there are long-term risks that might outweigh potential cost savings from moving the 46th Test Wing,” Nelson said. “When it comes to maintaining military readiness, we should not undertake a move the study says could lead to reduced testing or a greater reliance on costly private contractors.” U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, issued a statement Thursday that took no position. “I am pleased to see that Air Force Materiel Command is taking the necessary steps to fully examine and evaluate any potential savings in Test and Evaluation,” McKeon said. [email protected] (661) 267-5743 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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