Rethink Test & Evaluation Consolidation

The Air Force should reexamine its plans to consolidate its test and evaluation infrastructure because some of the proposed changes would shutter facilities with unique capabilities, causing the service to sacrifice “high-quality” T&E functions and place strains on the remaining assets, RAND concludes in a new cost-benefit analysis. Air Force Material Command in 2006 proposed the changes, which included the merger of the 46th Test Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., with the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, Calif., and the closure of additional facilities as a means of purportedly saving hundreds of millions of dollars. But RAND says, for example, while the merger of the two wings at Edwards, in fact, could yield substantial savings in personnel costs, it “involves a fair amount of risk.” Indeed, the overall consolidation would make “schedule delays for program testing, increased customer costs, and decreased T&E capability” all possible, the report’s summary reads. Some lawmakers have been wary of the move, especially those in the Florida Panhandle where the 46th resides. USAF is also considering a new umbrella organization that would bring together the functions of the 46th TW, 412th TW, and the Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tennessee.