The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center (AFOTEC), located at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., is a direct reporting unit under Headquarters, United States Air Force. It is the Air Force independent test agency responsible for testing, under operationally realistic conditions, new systems being developed for Air Force and multi-service use.
Leader of the Test Enterprise – Accelerating Change.
Inform the Warfighter and Acquisition through operational test.
Personnel and Organization
AFOTEC employs more than 670 military and civilian personnel at its headquarters and four detachments located at Edwards AFB, Calif., Eglin AFB, Fla., Hill AFB, Utah, Nellis AFB, Nev., and multiple operating locations around the country.
Test teams conduct tests at selected sites; collect, analyze and evaluate the data; and prepare formal reports. The teams are managed by AFOTEC and include personnel from the operating and supporting commands who will eventually employ these systems.
AFOTEC’s independent and objective evaluations of how well systems will meet operational requirements provide a vital link between the developer and user. They are key elements of the system acquisition approval process.
Operational tests are designed to address critical issues regarding a system’s performance in combat-like environments when operated by field personnel. They seek to answer questions about how safe, effective, reliable, maintainable, compatible and logistically supportable new Air Force systems will be.
The results of AFOTEC’s tests, normally conducted on prototype and pre-production models, play an important role in Air Force and Department of Defense acquisition decisions. Test results also identify deficiencies requiring corrective action.
Principles of Test
The Six Principles of Test, or 6Ps, were adopted by the Service Operational Test Agencies and the Director, Operational Test and Evaluation to focus on delivering combat capability at the speed of relevance. The principles apply to all acquisition types, technology demonstrations, and experimentation. The way test and evaluation supports quantity, speed to field, and increased performance is by testing earlier, faster, and smarter, discovering problems early, and reducing overall test-related costs. 6P efforts buy-down costs, shorten development and production time, maximize the potential to move major decision points left, and support earlier fielding of combat capability.
- Early OT Involvement: Involve in programs as early as possible with acquisition partners; design integrated test events in an environment that can collect data once to answer respective test objectives.
- Tailor to the Situation: Empower test teams with flexibility to adjust their tests as needed in order to field capabilities as rapidly as possible; teams know they have the flexibility to tailor their test planning, execution, and reporting as needed.
- Continuous and Cumulative Feedback: Ensure integrated test provides timely feedback regarding the problems discovered throughout the life of a program, especially in the earlier stages; testing is a continuum and partnership with program managers and users – no “final exam” surprise.
- Streamline Processes and Products: Remove bureaucratic constraints from current processes to deliver combat capability to accrue warfighting advantages to the US and our allies.
- Integrated and Combined Collection/Test: Pursue synchronized collection and data throughout acquisition stakeholder communities; use all test events at any point in the program to achieve contractor, developmental, and operational test objectives in a collaborative fashion to the maximum extent possible. One team, one plan, one test.
Adaptive: Allow Airmen the freedom and latitude to change in order to take advantage of learning during the test process or as processes change.
The Air Force activated the Air Force Test and Evaluation Center as a separate operating agency reporting directly to the chief of staff of the Air Force on January 1, 1974 at Kirtland AFB, N.M. The center achieved initial operational capability in April 1974 and full operational capability by October 1974.
On April 4, 1983, the center was redesignated the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center to clearly delineate its role as the Air Force's operational test agency. The Air Force redesignated AFOTEC a direct reporting unit to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force February 5, 1991. Later in 1991, the Air Force broadened AFOTEC's responsibilities by re-assigning all initial, qualification, and selected follow-on operational tests and evaluations from the major commands to the center.
AFOTEC's test and evaluation mission further expanded in 1997 when the center absorbed the "non-traditional" testing mission of the disbanded Defense Evaluation Support Activity. AFOTEC's mission success is reflected in its receipt of 13 Air Force Organizational Excellence Awards.
(Current as of January 2022)