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Former Air Force Commander Brings Leadership Experience to OU Strategic Research Efforts

October 5, 2022

Former Air Force Commander Brings Leadership Experience to OU Strategic Research Efforts

Andrew Allen
Andrew Allen

Andrew Allen, retired Air Force Commander, Owasso native and a member of the Chickasaw Nation, has joined the University of Oklahoma as the director for research initiatives for the Office of the Vice President for Research and Partnerships.

Allen is the only pilot in history qualified in all modern USAF fighters: F-15, F-16, F-22, F-35, F-117. Following his distinguished military career, Allen will apply his leadership experience and expertise as a test pilot to advance OU’s strategic research efforts in alignment with the Lead On, University Strategic Plan.

“I had the privilege of serving my country for 25 years. Now I can serve my state,” Allen said. “There is a significant need to innovate – to field technologies from development to production quickly, affordably and to scale.”

An important aspect of transitioning new technologies from research to production is having the capability to test for safety and effectiveness. This is where Allen’s skills and expertise as a test pilot will be of greatest benefit, particularly as OU’s research efforts generate new technologies in areas including advanced radar and additive manufacturing which are being developed in the realm of enhancing national security through research efforts led by OU’s Oklahoma Aerospace and Defense Innovation Institute (OADII), the Advanced Radar Research Center (ARRC) and the top-ranked School of Aviation.

OU Vice President for Research and Partnerships Tomás Díaz de la Rubia said, “Allen’s skills will provide unique testing and flight-worthiness capabilities that will enable OU to take important national security research to the next level.”

As director for research initiatives, Allen will strengthen and develop federal and private sector partnerships, help create and enhance research opportunities for OU’s cross-cutting foundational centers and institutes as well as the strategic research “vertical” institutes as described in Pillar 5 of the OU strategic plan. He will collaborate with internal and external stakeholders to build OU’s research brand and to open new research opportunities.

Allen said partnerships with local public schools, trade schools and local industry are essential to developing the workforce necessary to drive the innovation described in OU’s strategic plan.

“As a commander, I had to see across multiple stovepipes and build across units to realize results that are more than additive, but exponential,” Allen said. “With the strategic (research) verticals, not a single area stands alone. They all have to work together.”

Allen is a five-time top graduate of every training program of which he participated, including Test Pilot School. He is the 2017 recipient of the Franklin C. Wolfe Memorial Trophy Weapons System Award.

Allen’s military career culminated as the wing commander of a data-masked location from 2020 through 2022, commanding more than 3,500 personnel over 50 sites and five mission areas with a $1 billion annual budget. During his time as a wing commander, Allen secured an additional annual $150 million per year congressional addition to improve the range of weapon system testing. Through this position, Allen formed deep partnerships with all U.S. intelligence agencies, military services, combatant commands, Joint Special Operations and Command and relevant congressional committees.

From 2016 to 2018, Allen commanded the 704th Test Group at Holloman Air Force Base, where he was the Department of Defense lead for all flight test programs operating on the White Sands Missile Range and for all GPS jamming operations. He was also the USAF lead for all directed energy tests, static radar cross-section measurements and inertial/GPS navigation systems tests. He achieved a fourfold increase in operations and customer development under his command within one year.

As squadron commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force from 2013 to 2015 during the height of F-35 development. Under Allen’s leadership, the flight test program was completed on time despite a 150% increase in required flight testing.

Allen is a recipient of a National Defense Fellowship from the Institute for Defense Analysis. He holds master’s degrees in flight test engineering from Air University and in diplomacy from Norwich University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy.