HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — Remotely tucked away in the high desert of southern New Mexico, the 96th Test Group at Holloman AFB provides some of the most sophisticated military testing in the world. Often, their innovations and technological pursuits can conjure images seen in science fiction films or novels. The group’s latest project, dubbed affectionately as ‘R2-D2’, is no exception.
2nd Lt. Troy Biersack, program manager with the 746th Test Squadron, explained that the project began from a need to design a platform that could serve to perform high-dynamic testing of new GPS technology inside the 56 year-old T-38 Talon.
The culmination of efforts across the 96th TG led to the creation of a rear cockpit mounted electronics package reminiscent of the beloved Star War’s robot.
“The similarities between our RCP and R2-D2 would be that it’s in the rear seat and it’s got this funny little cap on the top which functions as an antenna,” Biersack described. “We started jokingly referring to it as R2-D2 as the project developed, and it just stuck.”
Building the RCP required careful coordination between the 746th Test Squadron, 846th Test Squadron and the 586th Flight Test Squadron.
The 746th Test Squadron performed program management, test management, integration of equipment and ground test data analysis. The 846th Test Squadron added by managing the mechanical design and fabrication. Finally, the 586th Flight Test Squadron led the flight certification process and coordinated the installation and removal of the RCP.
“It is a point of collective pride that the squadrons each possess such unique capabilities, yet they work so well together,” said Biersack. “Our leadership is promoting innovation and cohesion. This dynamic exists across the squadrons, enabling us to quickly identify and leverage the correct talent.”