Vap assumes 804th Test Group command

  • Published
  • By Bradley Hicks
  • AEDC Public Affairs

“Sir, I assume command.”

With those four words, Col. Jason Vap took the reins of the 804th Test Group, Arnold Engineering Development Complex, during a Change of Command ceremony June 21 in the Aircraft Test Support Facility at Arnold Air Force Base.

Col. Randel Gordon, who took command of the AEDC less than a week prior, presided over the ceremony which was attended by Vap’s family and friends, colleagues from various points in his career and current members of the AEDC workforce.

In his new role, Vap will command a group that employs nearly 2,000 people, supports and executes ground and flight test activities, and develops, sustains and operates more than 30 test facilities throughout the country. Along with those located at Arnold AFB, headquarters of AEDC, the 804 TG maintains facilities in operating locations at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California; Edwards Air Force Base, California; Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado; Eglin Air Force Base, Florida; the Federal Research Center at White Oak, Maryland; and Hill Air Force Base, Utah.

Vap comes to Arnold from Washington, D.C., where he served as the Military Assistant to the Chief Scientist of the Air Force. In that role, he supported the Air Force chief scientific advisor, delivering science and technology advice to the Secretary of the Air Force, Chief of Staff of the Air Force and the Chief of Space Operations. He also interfaced with industry and others in the Department of Defense to aid in the development of science and technology assessments in order to deliver the best advice to Air Force senior leaders.

In his speech given during the ceremony, Vap pointed out the origin of the office of Chief Scientist of the Air Force was not all that different from the formation of AEDC. Both, he said, relied upon the vision of Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold and Dr. Theodore von Kármán to help lay the groundwork for their respective establishment.

“So it’s quite unique out of happenstance to transition from that office and to come here to continue serving in a way that would be admirable to both of those incredible leaders, and I look forward to doing just that,” Vap said.  

Vap enlisted in the Air Force in 1994. He initially served as an avionics technician on the B-52H Stratofortress. He earned his commission through the Airmen Education and Commissioning Program in 2002 and subsequently earned his Master of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Wyoming. While at the university, Vap carried out research on carrier lifetimes in semiconductor quantum dot lasers.

Following his graduation, Vap was assigned to the Air Force Research Lab, Munitions Directorate, where he specialized in developmental testing of Laser Detection and Ranging and weapon datalink systems.

Vap is also a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School and served as the lead flight test engineer on the Airborne Laser during the low-power phase of flight testing and the integration and ground testing of the high-energy laser weapon system.

In 2012, Vap completed his Doctorate of Philosophy in electrical engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology and transitioned to a joint assignment with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. At DTRA, he served as deputy mission commander on Open Skies Treaty Missions conducted over the U.S. and the Russian Federation. He also led the U.S. team through the certification of the Russian Federation electro-optical sensors used on the Tupolev Tu-154 and Antonov An-30 aircraft.

After the DTRA assignment, he commanded the 846th Test Squadron at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. This squadron, a unit of the 704th Test Group of AEDC, operates Holloman High Speed Test Track. The HHSTT, a rocket sled test track, serves to provide a link between laboratory analysis and full-scale flight tests by providing a ground test capability to simulate selected portions of the flight environment under accurately-programmed and highly-instrumented test conditions.

Prior to assuming the position of Military Assistant to the Chief Scientist of the Air Force, Vap was the deputy program manager for F-35 Lightning II vehicle systems in the F-35 Joint Program office in Arlington, Virginia.

Vap expressed gratitude for the welcome he and his family received upon becoming part of the Arnold community.

“I look at this as yet another move into another family,” he said.

Vap also recognized ceremony attendees who he has worked with in the past, many of whom he will again collaborate with as the 804 TG commander.

“We look forward to building the future during our tenure,” he said.

Vap takes over command of the 804 TG from Col. E. Lincoln Bonner, who had served in the role since June 2020. Bonner is set to take charge of Space Delta 12 - Test & Evaluation, Space Training and Readiness Command, U.S. Space Force.