Edwards afb

Edwards Air Force Base (AFB) (IATA: EDWICAO: KEDWFAA LID: EDW) is a United States Air Force base located approximately 22 miles (35 km) northeast of Lancaster, California.

It is the home of the Air Force Test Center and is the Air Force Materiel Command center of excellence for conducting and supporting research and developmental flight test and evaluation of aerospace systems from concept to combat. It operates the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and is home to NASA's Dryden Research Center and considerable test activities conducted by America's commercial aerospace industry.


Edwards Air Force Base is Named in honor of Captain Glen Walter Edwards (1918-1948). Captain Edwards flew 50 missions in A-20 Havoc light attack bombers during the North African campaign during World War II on extremely hazardous, low-level missions against German tanks, convoys, troop concentrations, bridges, airfields and a variety of other tactical targets. He became a test pilot in 1943 and spent much of his time at Muroc Army Air Field, on California's high desert, testing a wide variety of experimental prototype aircraft. He died in the crash of a Northrop YB-49 Flying Wing near Muroc (now Edwards) AFB on 5 June 1948.[1]

The base has played a significant role in the development of virtually every aircraft to enter the Air Force inventory since World War II. Through developmental flight testing Edwards provides real-time solutions that dramatically increases combat effectiveness through a responsive and tangible link to the warfighter. Almost every United States military aircraft since the 1950s has been at least partially tested at Edwards, and it has been the site of many aviation breakthroughs.

Notable occurrences at Edwards include Chuck Yeager's flight that broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1, test flights of the North American X-15, the first landings of the Space Shuttle, and the 1986 around-the-world flight of the Rutan Voyager. Airplanes from Edwards Air Force Base provided the flyovers at many outdoor sporting events in Los Angeles County, including the 1980 Major League Baseball All-Star Game and many World Series games at Dodger Stadium and the missing man formation after Cheryl Ladd, Neil Diamond and Garth Brooks each sang the National Anthem at Super Bowl XIV, Super Bowl XXI and Super Bowl XXVII, respectively, at the Rose Bowl in nearby Pasadena, California. The Base's five-man color guard has accompanied presentations of the National Anthem by a who's who of recording artists at these and other major sporting events in Los Angeles County, including the 1984 Summer Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, many NBA Finals games, the 2012 Stanley Cup Finals, two NHL All-Star Games, and three NBA All-Star Games, most notably accompanying Marvin Gaye's performance at the 1983 game in Inglewood, California.

The base is next to Rogers Dry Lake, an endorheic desert salt pan whose hard dry lake surface provides a natural extension to Edwards' runways. This large landing area, combined with excellent year-round weather, makes the base perfect for flight testing. The lake is a National Historic Landmark.[2]


Air Force Test Center

The 412th Test Wing plans, conducts, analyzes, and reports on all flight and ground testing of aircraft, weapons systems, software and components as well as modeling and simulation for the U.S. Air Force. The Wing also oversees the base’s day-to-day operations and provides support for military, federal civilian, and contract personnel assigned to Edwards AFB.
412th Operations Group.
There are eight flight test squadrons under the 412th Operations Group with as many as 20 aircraft assigned to each. The 412 OS flies an average of 90 aircraft with upwards of 30 different aircraft designs. It also performs more than 7,400 missions (including more than 1,900 test missions) on an annual basis. The aircraft are grouped by mission
Global Power (fighters and bombers)
411th Flight Test Squadron: (F-22)
416th Flight Test Squadron: (F-16)
419th Flight Test Squadron: (B-52H, B-1, B-2)
445th Flight Test Squadron: (Initial Flight Test Operations, T-38)
461st Flight Test Squadron: (F-35 Joint Strike Fighter)
Global Reach (transport)
412th Flight Test Squadron: (C-135C Speckled Trout)
418th Flight Test Squadron: (C-130 and special operations variants; CV-22; KC-135 and special variants; C-17A)
Global Vigilance (unmanned)
452d Flight Test Squadron: (RQ-4)
412th Test Management Division
412th Test Management Group
412th Electronic Warfare Group
412th Engineering Division
The Engineering Division and the Electronic Warfare Group provide the central components in conducting the Test and Evaluation mission of the 412 TW. They provide the tools, talent and equipment for the core disciplines of aircraft structures, propulsion, avionics and electronic warfare evaluation of the latest weapon system technologies. They also host the core facilities that enable flight test and ground test—the Range Division, Benefield Anechoic Facility, Integrated Flight Avionics Systems Test Facility and the Air Force Electronic Warfare Evaluation Simulator. The Project and Resource Management Divisions provide the foundation for the successful program management of test missions.
412th Civil Engineer Division
412th Maintenance Group
412th Medical Group
412th Mission Support Group
U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School (USAF TPS)
The USAF Test Pilot School, also part of the 412th Test Wing, is where the Air Force's top pilots, navigators and engineers learn how to conduct flight tests and generate the data needed to carry out test missions. Human lives and millions of dollars depend upon how carefully a test mission is planned and flown. The comprehensive curriculum of Test Pilot School is fundamental to the success of flight test and evaluation.

Associate Units

There are a vast array of organizations at Edwards that do not fall under the 412th Test Wing. These are called Associate Units. These units do everything from providing an on-base grocery store to testing state-of-the-art rockets.

The 31st Test and Evaluation Squadron provides Air Combat Command personnel to support combined test and evaluation on Air Force weapons systems. Established in 1917, it is one of the oldest units of the United States Air Force. The "Desert Pirates" are part of the 53d Test and Evaluation Group, Nellis AFB, Nevada and the 53d Wing, Eglin AFB, Florida. It also provides the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, and Air Force Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, with elite test team members who have an operational perspective to perform test and evaluation on Combat Air Force systems.
The 31 TES represents the warfighter during early flight testing to insure the combat Air Force receives the world's best operational systems. The 31st is staffed with a mixture of operations, maintenance and engineering experts who plan and conduct tests, evaluate effectiveness and suitability, and influence system design. The squadron's personnel are integrated into the B-1, B-2, B-52, Global Hawk, MQ-9 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programs. Their results and conclusions support Department of Defense acquisition, deployment and employment decisions.
An Air Force Materiel Command named unit assigned to Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, AFOTEC Detachment 1 is responsible for accomplishing Block 2 and 3 Initial Operational Test and Evaluation of the F-35 Lightning II for the US Air Force, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, United Kingdom Ministry of Defense, and the Royal Netherlands Air Force.
  • Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, Detachment 5.**
AFOTEC Detachment 5 is responsible for conducting the operational test and evaluation of of USAF aircraft and avionics systems. Certification by Detachment 5 is required in advance prior to new aircraft prior to AFMC full rate production and combat fielding decisions. Detachment 5 personnel are integrated into the the Flight Test Center's combined test squadrons and provide a critical operating perspective during developmental flight testing to help prepare systems for their final operational test and evaluation.
** Note: An AFOTEC Detachment 3 is an unconfirmed geographically separated unit, which may be assigned to a remote facility of Edwards AFB at Groom Lake, Nevada, that may perform similar testing as Detachment 5 on weapons systems not publicly identified. During 1978 and 1979, an AFFTC test pilot and a pair of flight test engineers were engaged in proof-of-concept testing with Lockheed's "low-observable" technology demonstrator, dubbed "Have Blue". The successful conduct of these tests led immediately to the development of the F-117A Nighthawk, the world's first operational stealth fighter.
A remote facility of Edwards AFB, located at Palmdale, California, Plant 42 is a government-owned, contractor-operated facility with proximity to both the concentration of aerospace industry in Los Angeles, and the high-speed corridors and resources of the 412th Test Wing at Edwards. Plant 42 is one of four Air Force plants located throughout the United States, and is uniquely situated to fully support the Air Force's newest and most advanced aerospace systems. It provides industrial facilities for production, modification, depot maintenance and flight testing of aerospace systems. It is staffed by a mixture of civilian defense contractor as well as USAF personnel.
  • NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
Contained inside Edwards Air Force Base is NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center (DFRC) where modern aircraft research is still active (e.g. the Boeing X-45). The DFRC is home to many of the world's most advanced aircraft. Notable recent research projects include the Controlled Impact Demonstration and the Linear Aerospike SR-71 Experiment. It is chartered to research and test advanced aeronautics, space and related technologies for atmospheric flight operations, and to transfer those technologies to industry and other government agencies. Dryden supports NASA's Earth science research with a fleet of specialized manned and unmanned environmental science aircraft. Dryden is also involved in NASA's space science mission by managing and flying the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. The center is named for Dr. Hugh L. Dryden, an internationally known aeronautical scientist who served as director of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, NASA's predecessor organization, and later as deputy administrator of NASA.
Dryden's history dates back to late 1946, when 13 engineers arrived at what is now Edwards from the NACA Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory in Virginia to support the first supersonic research flights by the X-1 rocket plane in a joint NACA, Army Air Forces and Bell Aircraft program.
  • Air Force Rocket Research Laboratory
The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Propulsion Directorate maintains a rocket engine test facility on and around Leuhman Ridge, just east of Rogers Dry Lake. This facility traces its roots to early Army Air Corps activities.
For more than half a century, the facility and its personnel, teamed together with government and industrial partners, have provided the United States with rocket propulsion that fits the needs of the nation and anticipates the future of propulsion technology. The Edwards Research Site, sometimes called 'The Rock', or simply 'The Lab' by those who work there, is part of the AFRL Propulsion Directorate, which is headquartered at the Wright Research Site, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Edwards is also home to several other units from DOD, Air Force, Army, Navy, FAA, USPS and many companies that support the primary mission or the personnel stationed there.[3]

The Main Base is also the home of the Benefield Anechoic Facility (BAF), an electromagnetic and radio frequency testing building. It is also home to the Air Force Flight Test Center Museum, which has over 15 aircraft on display.[4][5]

The North Base is located at the north-west corner of Rogers Lake and is the site of the Air Force's most secret test programs at Edwards. The site has one 6,000 by 150 feet (1,829 m × 46 m) paved runway, 06/24, and is accessed from the lakebed or via a single controlled road.


Airfield information
Main base area
Rogers Dry Lake runways
Elevation AMSL 2,302 ft / 702 m
Website www.edwards.af.mil
Direction Length Surface
ft m
04R/22L 15,024 4,579 Concrete
04L/22R 12,000 3,658 Concrete
06/24 8,000 2,438 Concrete
Source: official site[6] and FAA[7]

As a military airbase, civilian access is severely restricted, but is possible with prior coordination and good reason. There are three lighted, paved runways:

  • 04R/22L is 15,024 ft × 300 ft (4,579 m × 91 m), and an extra 9,588 ft (2,922 m) of lakebed runway is available at its northerly end. It is equipped with arresting systems approximately 1,500 ft (460 m) from each end.
  • 04L/22R is 12,000 ft × 200 ft (3,658 m × 61 m) and was constructed to temporarily replace 04R/22L while it was being renovated in 2008.[8]
  • 06/24 is 8,000 ft × 50 ft (2,438 m × 15 m) (this runway is technically part of the South Base) and an extra 10,158 ft × 210 ft (3,100 m × 64 m) of lakebed runway is available at its easterly end.

There are 13 other official runways on the Rogers lakebed:

  • 17/35 is 39,907 ft × 900 ft (12,000 m × 270 m) Imagery from the 1990s shows an additional approximately 7,500 ft (2,300 m) extending to the north from 17L/35R, including a visual cue and centerline markings that extend about 15,000 ft (4,600 m) down the currently declared portion of the runway. This extension and the centerline markings are faded in current imagery.
  • 05L/23R is 22,175 ft × 300 ft (6,800 m × 91 m)
  • 05R/23L is 14,999 ft × 300 ft (4,600 m × 91 m) and is immediately adjacent to 05L/23R at the 23L (easterly) end.
  • 06/24 is 7,050 ft × 300 ft (2,100 m × 91 m). This is not to be confused with the south base 06/24 paved runway (which also extends onto the lakebed), or the north base 06/24 paved runway.
  • 07/25 is 23,100 ft × 300 ft (7,000 m × 91 m)
  • 09/27 is 9,991 ft × 300 ft (3,000 m × 91 m)
  • 12/30 is 9,235 ft × 600 ft (2,800 m × 180 m). It is actually marked as two adjacent 300 ft (91 m)-wide runways (L and R). Runway 30 rolls out onto the compass rose, so its corresponding, unmarked, runway 12 is never used.
  • 15/33 is 29,487 ft × 300 ft (9,000 m × 91 m)
  • 18/36 is 23,086 ft × 900 ft (7,000 m × 270 m). It is actually marked as three adjacent 300 ft (91 m)-wide runways (L, C, and R).

The Rosamond lakebed has two runways painted on it:

  • 02/20 is 4.0 miles (6.4 km) long
  • 11/29 is 4.0 miles (6.4 km) long



A water stop on the Southern Pacific Railroad since 1876, the site was largely unsettled until the early 20th century. In 1910, Ralph, Clifford and Effie Corum built a homestead on the edge of Rogers Lake. The Corums proved instrumental in attracting other settlers and building infrastructure in the area, and when a post office was commissioned for the area, they named it Muroc, a reversal of the Corum name, because there was already a town named Corum.[9]

Conscious that March Field was located in an area of increasing growth, and with the need for bombing and gunnery ranges for his units, base and 1st Wing commander Lieutenant Colonel Henry H. "Hap" Arnold began the process of acquiring land next to the Rogers dry lake for a new bombing range away from population areas in August 1932 (the last tract was not acquired until 1939). The facility established to support the range, initially referred to as "Mohave Field," was Muroc Field.[9] In October 1935, five men under a Sergeant Folgleman were sent to the area from March Field. They pitched tents and then put out circular bombing targets in the desert. For the next two years aircraft shuttled back and forth between Muroc Dry Lake and March Field for Crew Bombing Practice.[10]

At this time, another colorful character in Edwards' history, Pancho Barnes, built her renowned Rancho Oro Verde Fly-Inn Dude Ranch that would be the scene of many parties and celebrations to come. The dry lake was a hive of hot rodding, with racing on the dry lakes. The runway that the Space Shuttle landed on follows the route that hosted racing in the 1930s.[9]

The first major aerial activity occurred at Muroc in 1937 when the entire Army Air Corps participated in a large-scale maneuver. From then on, the bombing range grew in size.[10] When Arnold became Chief of the Air Corps in 1938, the service was given a renewed focus on Research and Development. Muroc Field drew attention because the nearby dry lake was so flat (Arnold described it as "level as a billiard table") that it could serve as a giant runway, ideal for flight testing. Over $120 million was spent to develop the base in the 1940s and expand it to 301,000 acres (470 sq mi; 1,220 km2). The base's main 15,000-foot (4,600 m) runway was completed in a single pour of concrete.[9]

World War II

On the afternoon of 7 December 1941, the 41st Bombardment Group and the 6th Reconnaissance Squadron moved to Muroc from Davis-Monthan Army Airfield, Arizona with a collection of B-18 Bolos, an A-29 Hudson and B-25 Mitchells. Then on Christmas Eve, the 30th Bombardment Group and the 2d Reconnaissance Squadron also arrived from New Orleans Army Airbase, Louisiana for crew training. Designation of the Muroc Bombing and Gunnery Range, Muroc Lake, California, as a separate post (Exempted Status) took place on 23 July 1942.[11] The name of the facility at the time was "Army Air Base, Muroc Lake".[10]

In July 1942, Muroc Army Airfield became a separate airfield from March Field and was placed under the jurisdiction of Fourth Air Force. Throughout the war years, the primary mission at Muroc was to provide final combat training for bomber and fighter aircrews just prior to overseas deployment. Known sub-bases and auxiliaries to Muroc AAF were: