Col Milko R. Padilla is the Deputy Commander, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He aids the commander in leading more than 12,500 people to execute a 7.5 billion dollar budget to discover, develop, and integrate warfighting technologies for the United States Air Force (USAF) and United States Space Force (USSF). He oversees a 127 million dollar budget to upgrade state-of-the-art research facilities distributed globally across 21 sites, and he directs the AFRL Headquarters’ (HQ’s) daily operations, including managing the 219 million dollar AFRL HQ budget.

Previously, as Deputy Director of the Aerospace Systems Directorate, AFRL, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, he aided the Director in leading the Air Force science and technology programs in high speed systems, power and control systems, rocket propulsion, turbine engines and air vehicles for advanced, next-generation space, missile and aircraft applications. The Aerospace Systems Directorate consists of a workforce of more than 1,900 military members, civilians and contractors executing an annual budget in excess of $700 million with $4 billion in research facilities spread across 65 square miles at Wright-Patterson AFB; Edwards AFB, California; and Arnold Engineering Development Complex, Tennessee.

Prior to his arrival at AFRL, Colonel Padilla was the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) Middle East Commander, Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia. In this role, he was responsible for performing acquisition lifecycle contract management for the Department of Defense and Security Cooperation, Foreign Military Sales, weapon systems programs, spares, supplies, and services across the Middle East and Africa.

Col Padilla was born in Lima-Peru and immigrated to the United States at the age of 13. He attended the Virginia Polytechnic and State University commonly known as Virginia Tech and received a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Aerospace Engineering. He attended the Air Force’s Officer Training School and received a commission in 1997. He began his Air Force career at the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) at Offutt AFB, NE with duties as satellite software and payload engineer. After his tour at DMSP, he became the Rotary Wing Lead Flight Test Engineer for all USAF rotary wing assets at Detachment 1, 46 Operations Group, Hurlburt Field, FL. In 2001, he was selected as the first cadre of officers to stand up the H-60 Combined Test Force at Nellis AFB, NV where he performed numerous developmental and operational tests on HH-60G Aircraft modifications in support of the Combat Search and Rescue mission. In 2004, he was assigned as the Test Manager for the ACAT ID Combat Search and Rescue Replacement Vehicle program at WPAFB, OH. He developed engineering, test and evaluation, and program management documentation to support a successful program initiation and milestone B decision. After his tour at WPAFB, he attended Air Command Staff College and was placed in the Political Affairs Strategist program. After school, he was assigned to the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs as a country director and branch chief for NORTHCOM and SOUTHCOM Areas of Responsibility. He completed his pentagon tour as Senior Executive Officer to the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs. In 2012 following his Pentagon tour, he was assigned to the KC-46 program as the Chief of Air Vehicle Flight Systems. As a program manager, he was responsible for major aircraft sub-system areas including aerial refueling, structures, propulsion and fuels, mechanical and hydraulics, interiors, and human factors. His efforts were critical to the completion of KC-46 "Pegasus" Critical Design Review. In 2013, he became the Materiel Leader for the Europe/NATO/Africa Branch, Air Force Security Assistance and Cooperation Directorate, WPAFB. As the Materiel Leader, he was responsible for a 55-person branch providing warfighting and humanitarian capabilities to 60 countries and 7 NATO organizations. Following a successful Materiel Leader assignment, he was selected as the 88th Mission Support Group, Deputy Commander where he was responsible for the security and support of 27,000 WPAFB personnel. Colonel Padilla then completed a successful joint tour as the Deputy Science Advisor at USCENTCOM where he was chartered with discovering new and emerging technologies to provide solutions for Joint Warfighting needs. After USCENTCOM, he managed the Air Force’s direct liaison with foreign government officials, Washington agency counterparts, and representatives of the aerospace industry to implement Air Force security cooperation programs, particularly the sale of Air Force military equipment to foreign governments in the NORTHCOM, SOUTHCOM, and AFRICOM areas of responsibility. Following a successful Pentagon tour, he became the DCMA Middle East Commander in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. With offices in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, he led the contracting oversight of 27 prime contracts valued at $458 million and provided quality assurance oversight of 8 support contracts valued at over $11.1 billion.

Colonel Padilla is married to the former Ms. Kristina Raupp and has four children: Alexander, Nathan, Andrew, and Natalie.

1993   Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
1994   Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA
2003   Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, AL
2009   MS in Military Operational Art and Science, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB AL
2012   Air War College Distance Learning Program, Maxwell AFB, FL
2015   Program Management Course PMT 401, Defense Acquisition University, OH
2017   National Council for US-Arab Relations, Malone Fellowship, Oman
2017   Joint & Combined Warfighting School-JPME II, Jt Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA

1997-1998   Satellite Engineer, Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, Offutt AFB, NE
1998-2001   Lead Rotary Wing Flight Test Engineer, Det 1, 46 OG, Hurlburt Field, FL
2001-2004   Test Engineer, H-60 Combined Test Force, Det 1, 418 FLTS, Nellis AFB, NV
2004-2008   Test Manager Combat Search and Rescue Vehicle, 669 Aeronautical Systems Squadron, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
2009-2011   NORTHCOM Branch Chief and Country Director for Colombia and Chile, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, Pentagon, Washington DC
2011-2012   Senior Executive Officer, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs, Pentagon, Washington, DC
2012-2013   Chief Air Vehicle Flight Systems, KC-46 Program, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
2013-2015   Materiel Leader, Europe/Africa/NATO Branch, AFSAC, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
2015-2016   Deputy Group Commander, 88th MSG, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
2016-2018   Deputy Chief, Science and Technology Division, USCENTCOM, MacDill AFB, FL
2018- Jul 21   Chief, Americas-Africa Division; Secretary of the Air Force, International Affairs; Pentagon, Washington, DC
Jul 21-Jul 22   Commander, DCMA Middle East, Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia
Jul 22-May 23   Deputy Director, Aerospace Systems, Air Force Research Laboratory, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
May 23-Present   Deputy Commander, Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

Defense Superior Service Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit
Meritorious Service Medal with 4 oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal with 1 oak leaf cluster
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters
Aerial Achievement Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters
National Defense Service Medal
SICOFAA Legion of Merit, International award from the Air Forces of the Americas 2020
AFMC Security Assistance Team of the Year 2014
SAF/IA Americas Division Action Officer of the Year
356th GP Team of the Year
418 FLTS CGO of the Year 2003
Air Force Association Theodore Von Karman Award 2001

Second Lieutenant February 7, 1997
First Lieutenant February 7, 1999
Captain February 7, 2001
Major September 1, 2006
Lieutenant Colonel January 1, 2012
Colonel June 1, 2018

(Current as of 07 May 2023)