The first prototype C-17 Globemaster III "T-1"
flies over Owens Valley, CA during a test mission out
of Edwards AFB.
3/22/2007 - EDWARDS AFB, CA -- The C-17 Globemaster III Integrated
Test Force welcomed home Edwards' own C-17, called T-1, during
a celebration at hangar 1623 here March 16.
T-1 first came to Edwards on Sept. 15, 1991, as the Air Force's
first test article for the C-17's initial flight testing.
"The significance of T-1 is it was the first C-17 built,"
said Lt. Col. Robert Poremski, C-17 Integrated Test Force director.
"It was not built to be an operational flying cargo plane.
It was built for one reason -- to come to Edwards and perform
developmental testing. The aircraft was hand-built, which is
different from a production aircraft. This was a labor of people
and good old fashioned sheet metal workers."
After nearly 16 years, T-1 has compiled 3,063 flight hours;
2,306 ground hours; 14,120 test points; and 1,403 tests. With
the aircraft being hand-built, T-1 was supposed to last for
only five years during initial developmental testing for the
"During that time, people realized how incredibly useful
T-1 is to keep it flying," Colonel Poremski said.
After the initial five years, T-1 was inspected, and it was
decided that it could perform test functions until 3,000 flight
hours, he said. The Air Vehicle Group, stationed at Wright-Patterson
Air Force Base, Ohio, performed an analysis of the costs between
getting a new C-17 with the instrumentation, and giving up T-1
and its capabilities; or bringing T-1 in for major modifications
to strengthen areas, rework the aircraft and upgrade the extension
to 15 years as a flight test aircraft.
But after 15 years, T-1 is still not retiring as it was modified
again to last for 15 more years.
Prior to its arrival here, the aircraft was in San Antonio
for life extension inspections and modifications, said Roy Smith,
C-17 Boeing Integrated Test Force director.
The aircraft underwent an entire structural integrity upgrade,
said 1st Lt. Ryan Marvin, C-17 project manager. It is almost
a new aircraft. The aircraft is now capable of executing tests
until it reaches 7,500 flight hours.
"The T-1 aircraft is the key to test and evaluation here
to support the warfighter," Lieutenant Marvin said. "The
516th Aeronautical Systems Group has testing planned out through
2015. With this planned, it was decided through coordination
between the (418th Flight Test Squadron C-17 Test Team) and
516th AESG with inputs and needs from Air Mobility Command leading
AESG to make the decision for T-1 life extension."
It was determined it is more beneficial and economically feasible
to the Air Force to continue using T-1 than pulling a production
aircraft out of the C-17 fleet, he said. It would cost roughly
$220 million to completely acquire and instrument a new aircraft
to a T-1 equivalent configuration.
"When a test comes to Edwards for the C-17, the first
question they would ask is 'can we do it on T-1,'" Colonel
Poremski said. "It is the preferred aircraft to do a follow-on
flight test on C-17s."
The aircraft is scheduled to perform flight testing to include
airdrop improvements and core-computer replacement testing.
Because of the data systems already installed, the test team
here is going to replace the core computer on the C-17, Colonel
Poremski said. They plan to do it on T-1 because it has the
capability to swap between old and new software.
"T-1 is sentimental for us," Lieutenant Marvin said.
"It is our baby. It is the only C-17 we own. Every other
C-17 tested here is borrowed from Air Mobility Command. Coming
back here meant a lot for many people. We didn't think it would
come back, but I'm glad we finally have T-1 home."
Source: USAF Edwards AFB Press Release by Airman 1st Class
Julius Delos Reyes