Operational Test

Honing the Edge

Dave Gledhill, David Lewis

A modern aircraft is a jigsaw of software-controlled sub-systems designed to excel in air combat. What the operational pilot wants, what the designer can produce, what the Company can deliver within the price, and when it can be delivered are often in conflict. It is the operational tester who decides whether the aircraft performs as promised.
Date Published :
June 2017
Publisher :
Fonthill Media
Illustration :
Color and B&W
No associated books available.


The process to deliver a modern combat aircraft from concept to introduction to service is often measured in decades. Described as a weapon system, modern designs such as the Eurofighter Typhoon are intricate jigsaws with a fusion of new techniques and sometimes unproven, emerging technologies. By the time the new weapons system reaches the front line, it will have been tested by the manufacturer, evaluated by test pilots, and assessed by service pilots. There have been examples of success but also some spectacular failures, with projects canceled late in development. This book will investigate why. It will take you from the original requirement through the complex testing and evaluation process, showing recent examples of the path to declaring a new combat aircraft operational on the front line. It will look at how today’s test organizations have matured to meet the task and investigate the pressures they face, and will also look at real-life examples of systems testing. David Gledhill and David Lewis, both experienced test evaluators, will uncover the reasons why some aircraft serve on the front line for years before becoming truly effective in their role.

About The Author

Dave Gledhill flew Phantom and Tornado F3 as a navigator and instructor. At the Air Warfare Centre he commanded the unit which developed and evaluated tactics and countermeasures for aircraft deploying on operations also serving as the Liaison Officer at Nellis AFB, the home of the famous “Red Flag” exercise. David Lewis flew Phantoms and Tornados as a navigator and a weapons instructor. He also graduated from the Aerosystems course and served as a staff officer at the MOD and at Boscombe Down test centre. He worked for BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Selex.

David moved to Yorkshire in the 1970s, rapidly learning to love life in the 'Broad Acres.' Whilst teaching Science for thirty years, his interest in historic transport infrastructure grew. He volunteers at the Naburn Lock site near York, was part of the campaign to save the Settle-Carlisle railway, and worked to help commemorate the airship industry at Howden. A post funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund involving investigating the history of Selby followed. In this guise, he devised school-based study and drama sessions concerning Selby's history, ran a 'pop-up' museum in town and led walks and talks for many local groups. This brought him into contact with the remarkable Laurie Dews the bargeman on whose recollections this book is based.

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