418th Flight Test Squadron

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418th Flight Test Squadron
418th Flight Test Squadron - MC-130E.jpg
418th Flight Test Squadron MC-130 Combat Talon II

418th Flight Test Squadron McDonnell Douglas YC-17A Lot I Globemaster III 87-0025.jpg
418th Flight Test Squadron McDonnell Douglas YC-17A Lot I Globemaster III 87-0025 c/n T-1, essentially hand-built in 1990 as the first USAF C-17. Aircraft planned for retirement to USAF Museum in 2012. Arrived there Apr 25, 2012.
418th Flight Test Squadron - Boeing KC-135r-BN Stratotanker 61-0320.jpg

418th Flight Test Squadron - Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker 61-0320 landing after making first ever successful air-to-air refueling with an F-35 Mar 12, 2008.
Active 1 June 1942 - Present
Country  United States
Branch  United States Air Force
Type Squadron
Role Flight Testing
Part of Air Force Materiel Command.png  Air Force Materiel Command
Garrison/HQ Edwards Air Force Base, California
Tail Code "ED"
Decorations Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svg DUC
Ruban de la croix de guerre 1939-1945.PNG FCdG w/ Palm
418th Flight Test Squadron emblem 418th Flight Test Squadron.jpg
Aircraft flown
Multirole helicopter CV-22 Osprey
Transport C-130 Hercules and special operations variants
Tanker KC-135 Stratotanker and special variants

The 418th Flight Test Squadron (418 FTS) is a United States Air Force squadron. It is assigned to the 412th Operations Group, Air Force Materiel Command, stationed at Edwards Air Force Base, California.


The 418th FLTS performs flight testing on the C-5, C17, KC-10, KC-46, KC-135, and partner nation airlift and air refueling aircraft.


World War II[edit]

Established as a B-17 Flying Fortress reconnaissance squadron in January 1942; redesignated as a heavy bomb squadron in April and activated in June. Trained initially under Third Air Force in the southeast; transferring to Second Air Force in the Pacific Northwest. Operated as an Operational Training Unit (OTU) in the Midwest until being deployed to the European Theater of Operations (ETO), being assigned to VIII Bomber Command in England in June 1949.

Engaged in strategic bombardment operations over Occupied Europe and Germany, sustaining very heavy losses of personnel and aircraft while conducting many unescorted missions over enemy territory attacking airfields, industries, naval facilities and transportation hubs. During the summer of 1944, aircrews bombed enemy positions at Saint-Lô, followed by similar campaigns at Brest in August and September. In October 1944, the squadron attacked enemy and ground defenses in the allied drive on the Siegfried Line, then bombed marshaling yards, German occupied villages, and communication targets in the Ardennes during the Battle of the Bulge from December 1944 to January 1945. Attacked enemy targets in Germany during the spring of 1945, ending combat operations with the German Capitulation in May 1945.

Remained in Europe as part of the United States Air Forces in Europe occupation forces, dropping food to the people in the west of the Netherlands, and in June transported French Allied former prisoners of war from Austria to France. Demobilizing in England, in December 1945 the squadron inactivated as a paper unit.

Cold War[edit]

Activated in the Reserves in 1947 at Miami Airport, Florida. Unclear whether or not the unit was manned or equipped; inactivated in 1949 due to budget restrictions. The squadron was activated in 1959 as a result of Strategic Air Command phasing out the B-47 Stratojet, and additional squadrons were activated as part of the consolation of Stratojet wings, and the replacement of the B-47 by B-52 Stratofortresses. In March 1961, President John F. Kennedy directed that the phaseout of the B-47 be accelerated. and the squadron was inactivated on 1 January 1962 as part of the drawdown of the USAF B-47 force, with the aircraft were sent to AMARC storage at Davis-Monthan.

Flight Test Squadron[edit]

Reactivated as a flight testing squadron at Edwards AFB. It has conducted flight testing of the MC-130H Combat Talon II and AC-130U Spooky aircraft since 1989.[1]

Supported test programs for miscellaneous large aircraft (other than the Edwards-owned Boeing C-135 Stratolifter and C-137 Stratoliner fleets). Also managed small test programs including the T-3 Firefly, T-6 Texan II, and C-130J Hercules. Gained the C-17A Globemaster III program from the inactivating 417th Flight Test Squadron in 1995. Added EC-18 and NKC-135 types from the 452d Flight Test Squadron in a realignment of Edwards flight test squadrons on 1 October 2000. Ceased operating the EC-18s on 24 Aug 2001 when they were retired.[2]


SAC 418th Bombardment Squadron emblem
World War II 418th Bomb Squadron emblem
  • Constituted 28th Reconnaissance Squadron (Heavy) on 28 Jan 1942
Redesignated 418th Bombardment Squadron (Heavy) on 22 Apr 1942
Activated on 1 Jun 1942
Redesignated 418th Bombardment Squadron, Heavy, on 20 Aug 1943
Inactivated on 19 Dec 1945
  • Redesignated 418th Bombardment Squadron, Very Heavy, on 13 May 1947
Activated in the Reserve on 29 May 1947
Inactivated on 27 Jun 1949
  • Redesignated 418th Bombardment Squadron, Medium, on 1 Dec 1958
Activated on 1 Mar 1959
Discontinued, and inactivated, on 1 Jan 1962
  • Consolidated (1 Oct 1992) with the 6518th Test Squadron, which was designated, and activated, on 10 Mar 1989.
Redesignated: 418th Test Squadron on 2 Oct 1992
Redesignated: 418th Flight Test Squadron on 1 Mar 1994.








See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the Air Force Historical Research Agency website http://www.afhra.af.mil/.

  1. ^ AFHRA 418 FLTS Page
  2. ^ a b Rogers, Brian. United States Air Force Unit Designations since 1978. Hinkley, England: Midland Publications, 2005. ISBN 1-85780-197-0.
  3. ^ a b c d USAF 418th Flight Test Squadron History