Operational Test and Evaluation Force

Operational Test and Evaluation Force

Operational Test and Evaluation Force (OPTEVFOR) seal
Active December, 1947 – Present
Country United States of America
Branch United States Navy
Type Systems Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E)
Part of Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) - N091
Garrison/HQ Norfolk Naval Base, Virginia
Rear Admiral Jeffrey R. Penfield

The Operational Test and Evaluation Force (OPTEVFOR) serves as independent and objective agency within the United States Navy for the operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) of naval aviation, surface warfare, submarine warfare, C4I, cryptologic, and space systems in support Navy and U.S. Department of Defense acquisition programs.


OPTEVFOR traces its origins to the final months of World War II when the need arose for an effective means to combat Japanese kamikaze attacks. On 2 July 1945, the Composite Task Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, was formed to develop tactics and evaluate equipment to counter the Kamikazes. This force was commanded by Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee, USN, and consisted of miscellaneous types of combatant ships and drone aircraft.

Following the end of World War II, the Composite Task Force was consolidated with other fleet units doing development work and in December 1947, was re-designated as the Operational Development Force (OPDEVFOR), with the force commander flying his flag on the USS Adirondack (AGC 15), as an operational command reporting to Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. In 1949, the command moved ashore to the Norfolk Naval Base. With its expanding OT&E responsibilities, a subordinate liaison command, located the San Diego Naval Base, created to serve as a liaison with the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

VX-6 was one of six air development squadrons formed by the United States Navy beginning in 1946 to develop and evaluate aircraft tactics and techniques. These squadrons were initially directed by the Operational Development Force, which was redesignated in May 1959 as the Operational Test and Evaluation Force (OPTEVFOR). These six squadrons were initially designated as VX-1 (tail code XA), VX-2 (tail code XB), VX-3 (tail code XC), VX-4 (tail code XF), VX-5 (tail code XE) and VX-6 (tail code XD). On 1 January 1969, the surviving Air Development Squadrons (VX-1, VX-4, VX-5 and VX-6) became Air Test and Evaluation Squadrons. Their designations were changed to VXE-1, VXE-4, VXE-5 and VXE-6. Their tail codes of these squadrons were changed to JA, JF, JE and JD, respectively.[1]

In May 1959, the command was renamed Operational Test and Evaluation Force (OPTEVFOR) to reflect more accurately its increased responsibilities regarding weapon systems and tactics testing and evaluation (T&E). In 1960, the OPTEVFOR headquarters moved to its present location, mocated off Terminal Boulevard near the U.S. Atlantic Fleet headquarters.

Due to Congressional and DOD initiatives to improve the defense acquisition process, in 1971, OPTEVFOR was designated the Navy's sole (OT&E) agency, with greater involvement in the research and development (R&D) process and production decision-making process. In keeping with these expanded responsibilities, the Force Commander (COMOPTEVFOR) began reporting directly to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO).

In 2013, the COMOPTEVFOR was the lead operational test agency who, along with Joint Staff, J6 Joint Deployable Analysis Team (JDAT), coordinated the 11th Bold Quest coalition demonstration. Warfighters, technology teams and testers under the flags of 10 nations and each of the U.S. military services came together at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. to stress test the IFF integrated suite and Aegis ballistic missile defense system Mode 5 in partnership with COMOPTEVFOR under 13 separate initiatives.[2] JDAT assisted the COMOPTEVFOR with Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) Mode 5 Level 1 Joint Operational Test Approach analysis to validate the interoperability of fielded combat systems and served as COMOPTEVFOR’s lead analysis organization, responsible for all reconstruction and coordination of issues with Service program offices, and producing a detail report of results for submission to DOT&E.[3]


Scope of Responsibilities

COMOPTEVFOR provides OT&E policy direction, technical and procedural guidance, and financial support for the independent and objective testing and evaluation of the systems and tactics at the direction of the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO). For operational control of fleet units, COMOPTEVFOR reports to the Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (COMUSFLTFORCOM); the Commander Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT); and the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe (COMUSNAVEUR). It also closely follows all R&D programs within the Navy and its laboratories, with the CNO authorizing direct liaison between COMOPTEVFOR and the heads of development agencies involving all technical matters for Navy research, development, testing, and evaluation. Evaluation of systems are done by personnel with technical experience with the equipment being tested and evaluated. Finally, OPTEVFOR coordinates operational test and evaluation (OT&E) activities with the operational test agencies of the other U.S. military services as well as the DOD Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, who establishes operational test policy for the U.S. Defense Department.

Fleet RDT&E Support Process

The Fleet Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) Support Process[4] conforms to the most current version of SECNAVINST 5000.2 pertaining to Navy or multi-service testing and evaluation (T&E) activities.[5] It recommends that T&E requests for fleet commander support be made in writing, via CNO-OPNAV (N091/N912), nine (9) month prior to the actual testing activity. The Fleet RDT&E Support Process defines the appropriate formats for request for T&E activities. Fleet RDT&E Support Process defines the levels of fleet commander support as follows:

The Fleet RDT&E Support Process also mandates that all T&E requests be submitted and updated on a quarterly basis beginning nine (9) months prior to the quarter that the T&R activity in order to provide adequate scheduling for the fleet command, and manates that CNO-OPNAV (N091/N912) be promptly notified of any cancellations. The Fleet RDT&E Support Process defines prioritization of fleet commander support for T&E activities as follows:

Finally, the Fleet RDT&E Support Process also defines unscheduled RDT&E support requirements, including the appropriate format for Emergency Fleet Support Requests. The Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COMOPTEVFOR) is designated as the RDT&E fleet-support scheduling agent for CNO (N091), including all at-sea operational test and evaluation (OT&E) activities.


Command Staff



Aviation Warfare

The Aviation Warfare Division is responsible for the planning and execution of operational testing and evaluation (OT&E) activities pertaining to the Navy and Marine Corps' aviation acquisition programs. Testing of these programs are done at the following field activities:

These programs include strike/fighter, assault weapon, airborne electronic warfare, air-based anti-submarine warfare, aviation maintenance, and trainer systems.[9]

C4I & Space

The C4I & Space Division responsible for the planning and execution of operational test and evaluation (OT&E) activities pertaining to the Navy's ashore and afloat command, control, communications, computer and intelligence (C4I) systems.[10]


The Comptroller/Resource Management Division provides the plans, programs, and budgets of OPTEVFOR's fiscal resources.[11]

Expeditionary Warfare

The Expeditionary Warfare Division is responsible for the planning and execution of operational test and evaluation (OT&E) activities of Joint Chemical/Biological traditional acquisition programs, Anti-Terrorist Force Protection (ATFP) programs, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), riverine warfare, and diving and salvage programs.[12]

Information Resources (IR)

The Information Resources Division assists the staff with current and planned automated information systems (AIS), technology and office automation, and telecommunications, including hardware and software support, configuration control and management, requirements analysis and system analysis, design recommendations, and user training.[13]


The Security Division oversees and coordinates OPTEVFOR security policy and programs.[14]

Surface Warfare

The Surface Warfare Division is responsible for the planning and execution of operational test and evaluation (OT&E) activities of U. S. Navy surface ships and associated engineering, auxiliary, combat systems, and systems, as well as the U. S. Coast Guard's Deepwater acquisition program.[15]


The Training Division provides general military and acquisition-specific training as well as that which is acquisition specific.[16]

Undersea Warfare

Tests and evaluates all undersea warfare systems, including submarine, surface and aviation anti-submarine warfare and mine warfare systems.[17]

OPTEVFOR Facilities

OPTEVFOR exercises operational control over four aircraft squadrons that conduct operational test and evaluation (OT&E) programs:

OPTEVFOR also maintains a detachment at the SPAWAR Systems Center Liaison Office at the San Diego Naval Base, California.

Task Force 142

The Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COMOPTEVFOR) is listed as Task Force 142 under the United States Fleet Forces Command. However OPTEVFOR is a direct report agency to the Chief of Naval Operations.

See also


Selected bibliography

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