Selfridge Serves as Test Center for Army, Air Force

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Dan Heaton
  • 127th Wing Public Affairs
Serving as a test center for new innovations has never been the primary thrust of the mission at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. But for almost 100 years, a variety of products have been tried out, put to use or otherwise proven through tests and trials at the base. That legacy is alive today through operations of both the Air Force and the Army at the southeastern Michigan base.

A number of U.S. Army offices and project centers operate at Selfridge, an extension of the work performed by several commands at the Detroit Arsenal in nearby Warren, Mich. Among the projects conducted at the base today is ongoing work to test seats and seating configurations to help keep Soldiers safe in a variety of military vehicles.

Earlier this year, the Air Force wrapped up the local portion of prototype testing for an aircraft defense system that is being developed for KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft. Selfridge maintenance personnel spent several months installing and troubleshooting the new prototype system, which is still under review. Over the past decade, other Air Force tests at Selfridge have revolved around a variety of alternative fuel options for ground vehicles, including some focused on determining how such options fare during cold weather operations.

"I believe one of the greatest assets we offer to the Air Force and to the nation is a mix of highly-skilled full-time and traditional Air National Guard Airmen," said Col. Michael Thomas, commander of the 127th Wing. "Many of our Airmen work full time in technical positions in the auto industry or related fields. They bring that expertise with them when they put the uniform on one weekend a month. When you couple that with the technical knowledge of our Airmen who work full time on our aircraft, we have a knowledgeable workforce that is second to none."

Among the earliest achievements at the Selfridge was the shattering of air speed records recording flights in excess of 220 miles per hour - a jump of about 20 percent - during flights at a series of 1922 air races at the field. Those high-speed flights also brought an awareness of a need for an enclosed cockpit to better protect the pilot from wind and extreme cold at altitude.

Comprised of approximately 1,600 personnel and flying both the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the KC-135 Stratotanker, the 127th Wing supports Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Special Operation Command by providing highly-skilled Airmen to missions domestically and overseas. The 127th Wing is the host unit at Selfridge Air National Guard Base, which marked its 95th year of continuous military air operations in 2012.