REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Sept. 25, 2023) – Mr. David Elkins has served as the Technical Director and Deputy Commander at the U.S. Army Redstone Test Center since April 2022, but his career in lifecycle test and evaluation spans 34 years.
His fellow teammates and family gathered for a retirement luncheon held in his honor on Sep. 13 at The Cliffs on Redstone Arsenal. The event was an opportunity for his colleagues, including many he’s mentored over the years, to honor him with awards, stories, and words of admiration.
Elkins’ relationship with RTC began well before its existence. Elkins entered federal service as a test and evaluation engineer in the U.S. Army Missile Command in 1989. Under a re-organization of the Army test mission, he transitioned to Redstone Technical Test Center, eventually becoming RTC, under what is today known as the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command.
Serving first as a test engineer, Elkins worked his way up through the organization where his titles included division chief, directorate chief, and in April of 2022, becoming the RTC Technical Director.
“People have asked me what does a tech director do? I like to tell the story from years ago when NBA great Michael Jordan scored 69 points in a single game, and afterward his rookie teammate told reporters ‘I will always remember this as the night that Michael Jordan and I combined to score 70 points,’ that truly is what it feels like, our workforce is made up of Michael Jordans and I have been lucky enough to work alongside them for 34 years. I can sleep at night knowing that if there’s a problem, I can go in to work and we will find a way to solve it, together,” said Elkins in his remarks at the event.
During the luncheon, Elkins received several awards including the Superior Civilian Service Medal, the Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, and the Honorable Order of St. Michael Bronze Award, rarely rendered to a non-aviator civilian.
As the Technical Director of RTC, he had direct oversight of more than 300,000 hours of testing of Army aviation, missile, and sensor systems and platforms. He was also responsible for leading the RTC team to build new capabilities for testing Army systems, including: a brand new cyber test capability that assesses cyber vulnerabilities of Army hardware and software early in the acquisition lifecycle; the design of portable instrumentation containers that can collect critical flight data in support of hypersonic missile flights; digital transformation of RTC’s data environment to deliver test data for Future Vertical Lift platforms in near real-time; developing the Army’s first Multi-Domain Operation test scenario to combine developmental and operational testing and to sync live and virtual assets into one test environment for testing interoperability between systems of systems; building an outdoor range for testing sensor payloads in motion through real-world degraded visual environments. Elkins’ efforts ensured that legacy test capabilities were sustained and improved, and that new capabilities were built where none previously existed, all to provide data to stakeholders.
Elkins also contributed heavily to the ATEC Modernization Task Force. This group was comprised of key senior leaders across ATEC and was tasked with doing a comprehensive evaluation of all ATEC capabilities, operations, and policies, as well as developing cross-organizational plans to ensure the Army’s test needs are modernized to meet Army 2030 and 2040 requirements in the multi-domain operation environment.
From 2015 until becoming Tech Director, Elkins has served as the Director of RTC’s Environmental Component Test Directorate overseeing 400 personnel across six divisions with an annual test budget of $45 million.
Significant achievements in the directorate include integration of a large 6DOF dynamic test capability, integration of an aviation material/failure analysis lab and the addition of a Modeling and Simulation Division.
Elkins is a graduate of Auburn University with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a Master’s of Business Administration. He has been married to his wife, Daralyn, for 33 years, and they have three children and two grandchildren.
Outside of work, Elkins serves as a member of the board of directors and athletic director for Providence Classical School and co-leads the newlywed small group at Rivertree Church. Elkins enjoys hiking, running, golf, and coaching youth sports.