Lt Col Raven LeClair, USAF F-35 Test Instructor Pilot, Command Chief Pilot and the Assistant Director of Operations, 461 Flight Test Squadron; Test Flight Commander, 370th Flight Test Squadron, Air Force Reserves
AIAA DEFENSE Forum 2022
Lt Col Raven LeClair is an F-35 Test Instructor Pilot, Command Chief Pilot and the Assistant Director of Operations, 461 Flight Test Squadron and the Test Flight Commander for the 370th Flight Test Squadron in the USAF Reserves supporting the 412th Test Wing, Air Force Material Command, Edwards Air Force Base, California. He leads a team of 20 military, civilian, and contractor engineers and pilots conducting Developmental Test and Evaluation of the F-35A/B/C. His team conducts test planning, flight test execution, & reporting on aircraft performance, propulsion, structures, avionics and subsystems for the USAF, USMC, USN and partner nations.Lt Col LeClair was born in San Jose, California on 16 February 1980. He attended Harbor High School in Santa Cruz, California. He commissioned in 2003 through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program after completing studies at the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in Physics. Maj LeClair was selected to attend SUPT at Sheppard AFB, TX, and earned a follow on F-16 assignment. While he was an operational F-16 pilot, Maj LeClair completed a Master of Science degree in International Relations, focusing on strategic energy policy and battlefield tactical energy solutions.
Maj LeClair served three operational F-16 tours and an assignment as an F-16 Operational Test Instructor Pilot. He has two combat deployments in support of OIF and one deployment in support of OEF. He won Squadron and Group Wingman, CGO, FGO, IP, and Flight Commander, and Test Aircrew quarterly and annual awards multiple times. Following operational F-16 assignments, Maj LeClair was selected to attend USAF Test Pilot School and subsequently was selected to become an F-35 test pilot in the 461st Flight Test Squadron, Edwards Air Force Base, California.
Prior to his current position, Lt Col LeClair served as 416 FLTS Assistant Director of Operations and F-16 Instructor and Test Pilot. In the 461 FLTS, Lt Col LeClair served as interim DO during pre-IOC weapons surge planning and execution, achieved the first F-35 A-A kill during a dual shot missile test. Lt Col LeClair was instrumental in the accelerated development and fielding of F-35 Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (AGCAS) by 7 years, saving countless lives and aircraft, and culminating in the team winning the 2018 Robert J. Collier Trophy, the benchmark of aerospace achievement.
With over 3,000 hours in military aircraft and 5,000 total flight hours, Lt Col LeClair continues to champion the F-35 follow-on modernization effort shaping the F-35 for the next 50 years, specifically focusing on agile software and hardware development, automated collision avoidance technology, combat autopilot and integrated combat autonomy through Project FOX (Fast Open X-Platform). Autonomy assurance is a critical part of future combat capability and Lt Col LeClair continues to refine testing methodologies to verify, certify, and build trust in AI enabled combat tools, piloted and unpiloted battlefield combat mosaics, and other tools to augment human capabilities.