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[410th FLTS F-117A.(LMSW)]

"Baja Scorpions" of Groom Lake

[Baja Scoripon Patch.] The current day 410th Flight Test Squadron traces its history to the formation of the SENIOR TREND Joint (later Combined) Test Force. (Detachment 2, R unit) The unit was established in 1980 as joint test force of Lockheed and Air Force personnel at Groom Lake, Nevada (Det. 3, AFTFC) under the command of Lt. Col. Skip Anderson. (From the earliest days of Senior Trend, the USAF also maintained a detachment of test pilots at Lockheed's Burbank Skunk Works, where operational pilots went through an initial ground training course.) This acceptance test squadron with no name operated at Groom in the early days. The Baja Scorpion was quickly adopted as the symbol of the Lockheed-USAF development effort. The scorpion symbol is the symbol of all F-117A testing. Both the Baja Scorpions and the Dragon Test Team mark their aircraft with the Scorpion.

Black World

The unit received the first FSD aircraft in January 1981. The first flight was made on 18 June 1981, with Lockheed test pilot Hal Farley at the controls. In addition to developing the aircraft's weapons delivery and aerial refueling capabilities, the unit was responsible for flying and certifying each of the 59 production aircraft before they were turned over to Tactical Air Command (TAC). There were usually four to six test flights (about half contractor and half USAF) for acceptance. They included systems checks, handling qualities evaluations, and low observable verifications. All of these flights (along with delivery to the test site, initial engine runs, taxi tests, etc.) are listed in the flight test logs by date. Aircraft number, pilot name, and mission types are listed. These flights always occurred at the "USAF operating location near Groom Dry Lake, Nevada".

The JTF (Joint Test Force) "Baja Scorpions" continued to fly the five FSD aircraft until 1985, when the first prototype #780 was turned over to TAC for use as an aircraft battle damage repair trainer. In February 1988, the unit received their last aircraft, 831, the only production F-117A modified for flight test.

White World

According to members of the current Palmdale flight test unit, the unit then operated without any designation at all other than "Baja Scorpions". In 1990 the last F-117A (#843) was delivered. (Note: Although there was a formal ceremony at Palmdale for this "last of the line", it still made its contractor and USAF acceptance test flights at Groom the month before.) The flight test squadron no longer had to perform acceptance flights at Groom Lake of new F-117A aircraft. However, the flight test duties still included flights for refurbished aircraft. In 1991, the second FSD aircraft #781 was relieved of flight test duties, and sent to the U. S. Air Force Museum in Ohio.

In February/March 1992 the nameless test unit moved from Groom Lake to Palmdale Plant 42 (As opposed to Holloman AFB with the rest of the F-117A community) It must be noted that although most of the flight test activity (the infrastructure) moved from Groom Lake to Palmdale, some testing, especially RCS verification and other classified activity is still conducted at Groom Lake. (Det 3)

In February 1992, the unit moved from Groom Lake to Air Force Plant 42, Palmdale, California. Here it came under the operational control of the 2874th Test Squadron. The 2874th TS was soon redesignated 337th TS, to which the F-117 CTF (Combined Test Force) was still attached as Det 5, a depot management unit. Following the recommendation of a Process Action Team sponsored by the AFMC Test and Evaluation Mission Element Board, Det 5 was directed to become an Operating Location under the operational control of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB. In February 1993, however, the test wing's Director of Operations proposed that the unit be established as the 410th Test Squadron. Headquarters AFMC agreed to this, and the squadron was established on 1 March 1993. The commander was Lt. Col. Steven Green, who is the first pilot to log 1,000 hours in the F-117A.)

The 410th TS qualified for the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award for exceptionally meritorious service of national security significance from 8 May 1992 through 31 December 1993. During this period, the unit transitioned from a classified location (Groom Lake) to a "white world" location (Palmdale). Moreover, in a period of only three months, the unit came under the operational control of Air Force Systems Command, Air Force Logistics Command, and finally Air Force Materiel Command. Additionally, the squadron transitioned through two centers, the Sacramento Air Logistics Center and Air Force Flight Test Center. Throughout the turmoil of transition, the unit maintained its flight test capability. The squadron successfully completed developmental flight testing and certification of two major operational flight programs for updated avionics, and development of a new weapon system sensor. In addition, the squadron completed testing of a secret weapon system, development of a low observable antenna, three structural studies and improvement programs, as well as nine product improvement test programs. All programs were completed on schedule.

Name: "The Baja Scorpions"
F-117A Combined (later Joint) Test Force
??? Unit, 4450th TG
Later Det ???, 2874th TS (Test Squadron)
Later Det 5, 337th TS
Later 410th TS, 412th TW(Testing Wing)
Later 410th FTS (Flight Test Squadron), 412th TW

March 25, 1991
The Baja Scorpions are authorized to move from Area 51 (Det 3, AFTFC) to Palmdale, Plant 42.

March 27, 1992
The Baja Scorpions move from Area 51 (Groom Dry Lake base) to Palmdale, Plant 42.

???? 1992
The Baja Scorpions become assigned to the 2874th Test Squadron.

???? 1992
The 2874th TS was redesignated 337th TS, to which the F-117 CTF was still attached as Det 5.

March 1, 1993
The Baja Scorpions become the 410th TS, 412th TW.
Lt. Col. Steven Green assumes command.

March 10, 1994
The 410th TS redesignated 410th TFLS (Flight Test Squadron).

May 30, 1995
Lt. Col. Charles R. Davis assumes command of the 410th Flt. Test Sq.

July 11, 1997
Lt. Col. Greg "Crash" Jaspers assumes command of the 410th Flt. Test Sq.

July 31, 1999
Lt. Col. Vince "Ice" Catarina assumes command of the 410th Flt. Test Sq.

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