18th Flight Test Squadron
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|18th Flight Test Squadron|
|Active||15 Jan 1941-18 Aug 1945
|Branch||United States Air Force|
|Part of||U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command
United States Special Operations Command
|Engagements||World War II
The 18th Flight Test Squadron (FLTS) is an independent field test agency of the Air Force Special Operations Command located at Hurlburt Field, Florida with one detachment at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The 18th FLTS evaluates aircraft, equipment and tactics in realistic battlespace environments to provide decision makers accurate, timely and complete assessments of mission capability. From concept development to system fielding, the unit's mission improves the survivability and combat capability of special operations forces worldwide.
The 18th FLTS is composed of approximately 96 people. The squadron consists of seven flights: fixed wing, vertical lift, operations analysis, combat applications, special missions, instrumentation and mission support.
The one detachment at Edwards Air Force Base, which is responsible for operational test and evaluation and tactics development and evaluation of the MV/CV-22 Osprey and supports Headquarters Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center in conducting joint tests with the Navy and Marine Corps.
SMOTEC filled a unique role by exploring new frontiers in special operations capabilities and developed better equipment and tactics to support Air Force special operations forces located throughout the world. It provided AFSOC with the centralized expertise needed for development and operational testing of new systems and tactics, proposed changes in doctrine, and recommended new requirements. The unit's co-location with the 1st SOW made it ideally suited to perform the mission of improving the worldwide Air Force aim of special operations forces.
On 1 October 1993 the 1st SOW was redesignated as the 16th SOW. SMOTEC remained a direct reporting unit to Headquarters AFSOC until 31 March 1994. On 1 April 1994, Air Force organizational changes dictated the unit's inactivation and realignment under the 18th Flight Test Squadron, also a direct reporting unit to HQ AFSOC.
The 18th FLTS lineage traces back to the 18th Bombardment Squadron activated 15 Jan 1941. Flying the PT-17 Stearman, B-18 Bolo and B-17 Flying Fortress, the squadron supported Allied actions in Europe during World War II. Following victory in Europe, the unit was inactivated 18 Aug 1945.
The 18th returned to action as the 18th Special Operations Squadron 25 Jan 1969. Activated at Lockbourne Air Force Base, Ohio, and deployed to Phan Rang Air Base, South Vietnam, the 18th SOS flew the AC-119K gunship. The squadron's primary mission was the interdiction of enemy supply lines, close air support, and air base defense. Following the transfer of the aircraft to the South Vietnamese Air Force, the 18th SOS was inactivated 31 Dec 1972.
On 1 Oct 1983, the Special Missions Operations Test and Evaluation Center (SMOTEC) was activated at Hurlburt Field by order of the Secretary of the Air Force as a direct reporting unit of Headquarters Military Airlift Command at Scott Air Force Base. SMOTEC was formed through the consolidation of the test and evaluation function previously assigned to the 1550th Aircrew Training and Test Wing, located at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, which was responsible for combat rescue and related test. It was also responsible for the informal test and evaluation staffs of the 2nd Air Division and the 1st Special Operations Wing, at Hurlburt Field. Though testing was reassigned to SMOTEC in October 1983, most of the testing continued at Kirtland for the reminder of that year. 
18th Bombardment Squadron
- Constituted as 18 Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 20 Nov 1940
- Activated on 15 Jan 1941
- Redesignated 18 Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 20 Aug 1943
- Inactivated on 28 Aug 1945
- Consolidated with the 18 Special Operations Squadron on 19 Sep 1985 as 18th Special Operations Squadron
18 Special Operations Squadron
- Constituted on 18 Jan 1969
- Activated on 25 Jan 1969
- Inactivated on 31 Dec 1972
- Consolidated with the 18 Special Bombardment Squadron, Heavy on 19 Sep 1985 (remained inactive)
- Redesignated 18 Test Squadron on 1 Jul 1991
- Activated on 15 Jul 1991
- Redesignated 18 Flight Test Squadron on 23 Mar 1994
- Inactivated on 1 Apr 1994
- Activated on 1 Apr 1994.
- 34th Bombardment Group, 15 Jan 1941 – 28 Aug 1945
- 1st Special Operations Wing, 25 Jan 1969
- 4410th Combat Crew Training Wing, 15 Jul 1969
- 14th Special Operations Wing, 1 Oct 1969
- 56th Special Operations Wing, 25 Aug 1971 – 31 Dec 1972
- Special Missions Operational Test and Evaluation Center, 15 Jul 1991 – 1 Apr 1994
- Air Force Special Operations Command, 1 Apr 1994
- Twenty-Third Air Force (Air Forces Special Operations Forces), 1 Jan 2008 – present
- PT-17 Stearman, 1941
- LB-30B Liberator, 1941
- B-18 Bolo, 1941
- B-17 Flying Fortress, 1941–1943, 1944–1945
- B-25 Mitchell, 1943–1944
- B-24 Liberator, 1943–1944
- AC-119K Stinger, 1969–1972.
- AC-130H/U Spectre/Spooky, 1991–1994; 1994 – present
- MC-130P Combat Shadows, 1994 – present
- MH-53 Pave Low, 1994 – present.
- MC-130E/H Combat Talon, 1994 – present.
- CV-22 Osprey, 1996 – present.
Notes and References
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1983) . Air Force Combat Units of World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 978-0-912799-02-5.
- Maurer, Maurer, ed. (1982) . Combat Squadrons of the Air Force, World War II (reprint ed.). Washington, DC: Office of Air Force History. ISBN 0-405-12194-6.