The 412th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif., officially inactivated in a ceremony there earlier this month, bringing an end to the unit’s combined senior leader airlift and test mission, officials announced. The squadron’s single modified KC-135 “Speckled Trout” aircraft will shift solely to the test support role with Edwards’ 418th FLTS, according to a May 20 release. “It’s the only KC-135 on base that’s receiver capable, so we’re planning on using it as part of the testing with the KC-46,” said former 412th FLTS Commander Lt. Col. Michael Davis. Gen. Curtis LeMay directed the modification of a KC-135 to transport senior Air Force leaders in 1957 and “the Trout in its various forms and squadrons has transported 15 Chiefs of Staff over the years,” Col. Rodney Todaro, 412th Operations Group commander said. The 412th FLTS stood up Jan. 1, 1994, according to the release.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.