|445th Flight Test Squadron|
|Active||1943–1946; 1953–1968; 1969–2001; 2004–2015|
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Decorations||Air Force Outstanding Unit Award|
|445th Flight Test Squadron emblem (approved 11 June 1976)|
|445th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron emblem (approved 24 November 1958)|
The 445th Flight Test Squadron was a United States Air Force squadron. It was last assigned to the 412th Operations Group at Edwards Air Force Base, California, where it performed flight testing on General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. The 445th was part of the Air Force Test Center. It formulated test programs, developed the criteria for and executed flight test missions, analyzed data from the test flights and reported on the results.
The squadron's first predecessor was activated at Orlando Army Air Base, Florida as the 445th Fighter Squadron in early 1943 as part of the Army Air Force School of Applied Tactics (AAFSAT). AAFSAT's function was to train cadres from newly formed units in combat operations under simulated field conditions as the cores around which new combat groups would be formed.
The 445th trained pilots and furnished cadres to night fighter units. Later, it engaged in mock combat missions over the AAFSAT range training pilots in combat maneuvers, flying a wide variety of fighters and bombers. It remained at the AAFSAT until March 1944 when the training mission of the groups was replaced by the 903d Army Air Forces Base Unit on 1 April 1944 with Section C taking over the fighter training, and Section D, the bombardment training.
It moved to Muroc Army Air Base, California, where it became part of the 412th Fighter Group of Fourth Air Force. It was the first United States jet fighter squadron to be activated, and spent most of its early existence in experimental testing of the Bell P-59 Airacomet and Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star aircraft. The squadron developed training programs and trained aircrew and ground personnel as cadres for newly formed jet aircraft-equipped units. Also flight tested the captured Mitsubishi A6M Zero (Zeke-52); the XR-3 (Autogyro) and Sikorsky R-4 (Helicopter)
It was inactivated on 3 July 1946, its mission being assumed by the 2759th Experimental Wing.[dubious ]
The squadron was reactivated under Air Defense Command (ADC) as the 445th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron in March 1953 at Geiger Field, Washington. In July, the first North American F-86D Sabre interceptors were assigned. The pilots and airmen were relatively inexperienced and the maintenance crew small. The high point in July 1954 was "Operation Checkpoint," a joint SAC-ADC exercise that extended for three days. With sunny days and early takeoffs, the pilots' proficiency increased rapidly and aircraft maintenance became the best in ADC.
In August 1955, ADC's Project Arrow replaced the 445th at Geiger with the 497th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron that moved on paper from Portland Airport, Oregon. The 445th transferred on paper to Wurtsmith Air Force Base, Michigan, performing air defense duties over the Great Lakes area and upper Midwest equipped with Northrop F-89D Scorpions. The 445th FIS was upgraded to the new F-89G Scorpion in March 1956 (the first F-89G squadron in ADC), and upgraded to the F-89J in September 1957.
It was re-equipped with new McDonnell F-101B Voodoo supersonic interceptor aircraft, and the F-101F operational and conversion trainer in 1960. The two-seat trainer version was equipped with dual controls, but carried the same armament as the F-101B and were fully combat-capable. On 22 October 1962, before President John F. Kennedy told Americans that missiles were in place in Cuba, the squadron dispersed one third of its force, equipped with nuclear tipped missiles to Phelps Collins Air National Guard Base at the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis. These planes returned to Wurtsmith after the crisis.
The squadron operated the Voodoos until September 1968, when the aircraft were passed along to the Air National Guard and the squadron was inactivated as part of the general drawdown of the ADC active-duty interceptor force.
The 6512th Test Squadron was activated at Edwards Air Force Base, California in 1969 by Air Force Systems Command. it managed all aircraft types not assigned to the various centers/Flight Test Squadrons. From 1989, it primarily operated test support, TPS[jargon] support, and test program aircraft were not associated with CTFs[jargon].
Aircraft types flown by the 6512th/445th included: A/YA-7D, VA-7F, A-7K, NA/OA-37B, NF-4C/D/E, YF-4E, NRF-4C, F-15A/B/C/D/E, F-111A, F-111D, FB-111A (later, F-111G), UH-1N, O-2A, T-37B, T-38A, AT-38B, T-38C, and UV-18. It redesignated as the 445th Flight Test Squadron in October 1992 as part of transfer from Systems Command to Air Force Material Command.
It retired the F-111s in 1990, and the A-7s and F-4s in 1992. The last A-37s were retired after a mishap in 1994. It transferred the UH-1Ns to other bases c. 1994–95. It absorbed F-15s from the inactivated 415th Flight Test Squadron on 1 October 1994. From that date, it primarily flew F-15A/B/C/D/E, TA-38A/C, and AT-38B. It was inactivated in late 2001 but activated again in early 2004 in a series of reorganizations at Edwards.
Since 2014, efforts had been underway to consolidate the 445th Flight Test Squadron into three other Combined Test Forces, and on 1 May 2015, base leadership and 445th FLTS personnel were on hand to finally bid farewell to the historic squadron known as "Test Operations" during an inactivation ceremony at Club Muroc. As of May 2015, the 445th FTS was merged into the 416th Flight Test Squadron also based at Edwards. When active, the 445th was the oldest Flight Test Squadron at the airbase. The squadron last flew the F-16C/D Fighting Falcons and T-38C Talons.
445th Fighter Squadron
6512th Test Squadron