Seven C-17s participate in formation flight testing

(Air Force photo by Rob Densmore)

Workers prepare seven C-17s to conduct a formation flight test Sept. 14, 2010. The flight test was conducted to evaluate the aircraft's formation flight system. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rob Densmore)

(Air Force photo by Rob Densmore)

C-17 Globemaster IIIs taxi down the runway at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to conduct formation flight testing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rob Densmore)

(Air Force photo by Rob Densmore)

C-17s taxi before take-off to test the formation flight system, which enables the C-17 pilot to monitor and fly the aircraft in formation with other C-17s at the same altitude and distance in any weather condition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Rob Densmore)

(Air Force photo by John Perry)

Seven C-17s take off from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for a flight test Sept. 14, 2010. The test was to evaluate the aircraft's formation flight system. (U.S. Air Force photo/John Perry)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 418th Flight Test Squadron conducted flight tests Sept. 14, 2010, to evaluate modifications made to the C-17 Globemaster III formation flight system.

The flight test required multiple C-17s to fly in formation to test and validate how the FFS performs.  

The FFS enables the pilot to monitor and fly the aircraft in formation with other C-17s at the same altitude and distance in any weather condition. 

The C-17 has a basic mission requirement to be able to fly large-scale formations, both in the clear and through the clouds.  The purpose is to be able to deliver a sizeable force of both personnel and their equipment into a hostile environment with speed and accuracy.

The lead pilot is responsible for sending information electronically through the system to the other C-17s so the entire formation is flying at the proper speed and altitude.  

This seven-ship flight test is a build-up of previous tests. Initially, the formation flight system was tested here in the summer of 2008. Later it was tested at Pope Air Force Base, N.C., in four-ship formation. Last year at Edwards, the 418th FLTS conducted flight tests using a six-ship formation. 

In addition to an Edwards-based C-17, Air Mobility Command provided six C-17s for this week's tests -- three from McChord AFB, Wash., and three from Charleston AFB, S.C.

The squadron is scheduled to fly a second formation test Sept. 16 with follow-on testing next week.