The Air Force on Aug. 1 inactivated the 410th Flight Test Squadron at Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif., the unit responsible since 1980 for flight testing the F-117A stealth ground-attack aircraft that the service retired in April. Over the years, the unit logged 8,000 flight test hours. The squadron had its origin in 1980 as part of the classified joint test force, unofficially named Baja Scorpions, formed with Lockheed Martin personnel to test the then-new stealth airplane. In 1992, the unit relocated to Plant 42. The following year, its operational control transferred to the 412th Test Wing at Edwards AFB, Calif., and it officially became known as the 410th FLTS. In addition to testing, the squadron provided support for contingency operations during the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the air campaigns against Iraq in 1991 and 2003 and against Serbia in 1999. (Palmdale report by SrA. Julius Delos Reyes)
Reports of production troubles on the SpaceX rocket that could contend for military cargo deliveries happened to coincide with a different company’s concept receiving an early nod—one that might not require a rocket at all.