By Rebecca Drew
THE FASCINATING testing process that goes into honing a RAF plane so that it is ready for conflict has been revealed in a new book written by two test evaluators.
Incredible images in the book show RAF Waddington, the home of the Air Warfare Centre, the crew of the F3 Operational Evaluation Unit on trial duties at the Naval Air Warfare Centre China Lake and men preparing for the first Brimstone test flight.
Other spectacular pictures show a Tornado F3, Typhoon and Su30 Mki in formation during Exercise Indra Danush in 2007 and a Tornado GR4 of the Strike Attack Operational Evaluation Unit powering above the clouds.
The amazing pictures have been revealed in the book, Operational Test: Honing the Edge by David Gledhill and David Lewis. It is published by Fonthill Media.
“Much of the detail of trials flying is complex and we have tried to explain some of the relevant concepts in simple terms. Even so, descriptions can be unfathomable, even to experts,” said the authors in the book’s authors’ notes.
“This book is not an in depth history of test flying, neither is it a text book on operational development.
“This is more an exploration of the day-to-day routines which lead to an operational capability, some of which is exciting and some remarkably mundane.
“Testing can be shrouded in secrecy and the tales of secret squadrons of Migs based in the Nevada desert would have earned the authors jail terms until the US Government declassified the ‘Constant Peg’ activities in 2006.
“It will be many years before some tales can be told, if ever, but there are many examples of testing which, whilst not so intriguing, show the way that a complex weapon system is
brought into service.
“Nevertheless, in some areas we have had to be circumspect about saying too much.
Author David Gledhill commanded the unit that developed and evaluated tactics, countermeasures for aircraft deployed on operations. He also flew the Phantom and Tornado F3 as an instructor and navigator.
Former RAF navigator and weapons instructor, David Lewis flew Phantoms and Tornados.
“Many talented individuals who work tirelessly contribute to the process before the first operational pilot ever flies the RAF’s newest jet,” they added.
“Their story deserves to be told as much as that of the heroic test pilot.
“The final accolade should go to the unsung heroes: the designers, the engineers, the technicians, the analysts, and the test staff themselves who dedicate their lives to excellence.”
Published by Fonthill Media, Operational Test: Honing the Edge by David Gledhill and David Lewis is now available to buy for RRP £25.