New Global Hawk configuration tested in 16T wind tunnel

Jeffrey Castleman, ATA outside machinist, inspects the Global Hawk model being used for aerodynamic testing in AEDC’s 16-foot transonic wind tunnel.

Jeffrey Castleman, ATA outside machinist, inspects the Global Hawk model being used for aerodynamic testing in AEDC’s 16-foot transonic wind tunnel.

A model of the Global Hawk Unmanned Vehicle Block 20 recently underwent aerodynamic testing in AEDC’s 16-foot transonic wind tunnel.

A model of the Global Hawk Unmanned Vehicle Block 20 recently underwent aerodynamic testing in AEDC’s 16-foot transonic wind tunnel.

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- A new Global Hawk Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) configuration will provide advanced capabilities for the warfighter in the War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A model of the Global Hawk with the new configuration was tested in AEDC's 16-foot transonic wind tunnel (16T) to gather aerodynamic data to support air vehicle performance analysis and flight control system studies. The results will also be used to validate and expand the high speed Block 20 Global Hawk database.

The configuration change is a modification to the vehicle's airframe to accommodate an advanced radar system that would enable U.S. and coalition forces to better detect, identify and track both moving and stationary ground vehicles and low-flying aircraft and cruise missiles.

"This test includes three phases - we're doing Block 20 database validation because of model problems we had during a prior test entry here," said Bruce Rowan, lead aerodynamicist with Northrup Grumman Corp.
"We're collecting new information on an upcoming configuration - the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MPRTIP) and we're also doing some ventral fin testing."

He said the scale model had experienced wing flexure problems during a previous low speed wind tunnel test at the San Diego Air & Space Technology Center's Low Speed Wind Tunnel in California, and also during the Global Hawk test at AEDC in 2003.

"Well, we've done a lot of work fixing the model problems so the wings now act as one single wing as opposed to two separate pieces," he said.

"A new attachment makes it structurally stiffer. We definitely need a stronger, stiffer wind tunnel model. Then there is the MPRTIP configuration, and when we invert the model on the balance, we'll be doing ventral fin testing, concentrating on the lower surface of the model."

Mr. Rowan said the results from the testing in 16T will be compared to the data obtained from the earlier test in California and to data collected from a computational fluid dynamic model.

"The Global Hawk is a tremendous asset in the war on terror, equipping American military commanders with virtually real time surveillance that helps bring concealed terrorist plots and enemy positions to light," said U.S. Rep. Wally Herger of California's 2nd congressional district in a speech announcing the roll out of the Global Hawk Block 20 at Palmdale, Calif., Aug. 25.

"The men and women of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, located in the Northern California district I represent, are operating Global Hawk in combat today in ways never imagined. The new Block 20 Global Hawk will strengthen their ability to quickly and accurately find and destroy terrorist targets wherever they may be."