18th SOTES

Redesignated as the 18th Special Operations Test and Evaluation Squadron on 26 July 2019, the 18th carries the tradition and responsibility as Air Force Special Operations Command’s sole Operational Test organization.  The 18 SOTES is based at Hurlburt Field, Fla.

The 18 SOTES is responsible to conduct test and evaluation of concepts and equipment that enhance full-spectrum Joint Force capabilities as an extension of national policy.  The ‘Stingers’ of the 18 SOTES deliver enterprise-wide operational test solutions for AFSOC, USAF and SOCOM through test subject matter expertise and SOF Airpower operational experience.  

Vision: Enhance SOF combat power by becoming SOCOM's premier Operational Test organization; delivering timely and actionable information to the warfighter..

Mission: Determine the operational effectiveness and suitability of aircraft, equipment and tactics. By thoroughly testing and evaluating aircraft, equipment, and tactics in realistic battlespace environments, the 18 SOTES provides decision makers accurate, timely, and complete assessments of mission capability.


Mission – “Stingers seek the truth to enhance SOF Airpower capabilities”

Airmen – “Stingers help others – growing and reaching our potential is a team effort”

Development – “Stingers are never done learning”

Personnel, Resources & Organization:

The 18 SOTES is organized using a typical United States Air Force operations squadron construct. Ninety-five percent of the squadron’s manpower is assigned to seven flights; four test flights, and three test support flights. The four test flights include: Combat Systems Test (DOC), Fixed-Wing Test (DOF), Vertical Lift Test (DOR), and Cyber Test (DOX). The three test support flights include: Operational Analysis (DOA), Instrumentation (DOI), and Test and Evaluation Support (DOT).

The 18 SOTES contains approximately 75 total manpower authorizations, with roughly 2/3 of those being active duty and 1/3 civilian. Aircrew authorizations include pilots, combat systems operators, career enlisted aviators, and special warfare. Non-aircrew authorizations include operations research analysts, developmental engineers, various cyber specialties, various maintenance and logistics specialties, and personnel. The civilian authorizations include engineers and technicians; various analyst, administrative, and program management specialties; various cyber specialties; and technical writing.