AFOTEC stands up Operating Location at Vandenberg SFB

  • Published
  • Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center

The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, headquartered at Kirtland AFB, N.M., stood up Operating Location Vandenberg Space Force Base to provide operational test and support for the Sentinel Intercontinental Ballistic Missile family of systems, which also includes the ICBM fuze modernization program and Mk21A reentry vehicle.

On August 21st, a ceremony to commemorate the activation was presided over by AFOTEC Detachment 3 Commander Lt. Col. Adam Rector, with Maj. Kevin Johnston as the incoming OL Chief.

The activation of OL-VC will directly support AFOTEC Detachment 3 at Hill AFB, Utah, whose mission is to test and evaluate strategic nuclear systems in operationally realistic environments to ensure delivery of effective and suitable combat capabilities.

OL-VC has also integrated with the 719th Test Squadron, which is a unit of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex, headquartered at Arnold AFB, Tenn. This collaborative effort forms the Sentinel Combined Test Force, delivering warfighting capabilities quickly and efficiently within the acquisition process. This is accomplished through combined testing and certification activities, allowing the CTF to provide continuous feedback to the program office to inform and influence decisions as early as possible.

Sentinel is the planned replacement for the aging Minuteman III ICBM platform, and AFOTEC OL-VC, along with elements of the 719th Test Squadron, will act as the CTF’s liaison with mission partners at Vandenberg SFB, including the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, Air Force Global Strike Command, Space Systems Command, and others.

“Test is important to any program, but it’s even more so when dealing with a system with a deterrent mission like ICBMs,” said Lt. Col. Adam Rector, AFOTEC Detachment 3 Commander. “Other systems have numerous operational missions after test to fully demonstrate their capabilities, but for Sentinel its capabilities will be shown during test.”

“We’re really excited for all of the testing happening at Vandenberg over the next few years,” said Maj. Kevin Johnston, AFOTEC Detachment 3 OL-VC Chief. “It’s going to take a team effort to successfully execute everything. I want to thank all of our mission partners  and I look forward to working with this team to ensure that the Sentinel weapon system is effective and suitable for our maintainers, defenders, and operators in the field.”

While the Sentinel’s supporting systems are in early stages of the acquisition process, proper development is crucial for effectiveness and efficiency in this new platform. The activation will bring with it critical personnel for Sentinel testing.

AFOTEC is a direct reporting unit under Headquarters, United States Air Force. It is the Air Force’s independent test agency responsible for testing, under operationally realistic conditions, new systems being developed for Air Force and multi-service use.