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News > AEDC tackles another complex store separation test from the Navy’s Super Hornet
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Getting a closer look
Adam Burt, a co-op student working with Aerospace Testing Alliance, inspects the 1/10-scale models of the sting-mounted AIM-120C store and F/A-18E/F aircraft during a break in store separation testing inside AEDC’s 16-foot transonic wind tunnel. ATA is the support contractor for the center. The ongoing testing marks the 13th entry of the Super Hornet for store separation testing in 16T. The data from the testing goes into a database and leads to flight testing. (Photo by David Housch)
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AEDC tackles another complex store separation test from the Navy’s Super Hornet

Posted 5/30/2008   Updated 5/30/2008 Email story   Print story


by Philip Lorenz III

5/30/2008 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Arnold Engineering Development Center is the U.S. Navy's choice for flight simulation testing on the next generation of ordnance carried on board the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, according to Frank Taverna, the Naval Air Systems Command store separation lead for the F/A-18E/F, P-3, S-3, EA-6B, among other Navy aviation platforms.

Taverna was part of a team at the center's 16-foot transonic (16T) wind tunnel that conducted store separation testing of the AIM-120C advanced medium-range, air-to-air missile (AMRAAM), and 11 other stores, from the F/A-18E/F.

"We have such a history here, all our store separation testing databases are here," he said. "This was the 13th (F/A-18E/F) store separation entry in 16T."

The testing included two phases; one focused on captive loads entries and the other on captive trajectory system (CTS) entries. The loads phase measured the force and moment of stores mounted on the aircraft.

1st Lt. David Cancel, Air Force project test manager with the 716th test squadron at AEDC, said, "CTS testing is done to simulate store separation from the aircraft to determine if the weapons will safely depart the aircraft flow field so that they can hit their targets."

He said the team also checked to ensure the released store doesn't hit the aircraft or other stores.

David Hughes, the Aerospace Testing Alliance project manager on the test, said the Navy usually performs a limited flight test after each wind tunnel test to verify the wind tunnel data.

"We gather force and moment data on the stores in the aircraft flow field so the customer can determine the safe separation envelope for each store that the aircraft needs to carry," he explained. "Ongoing store separation testing is done in the wind tunnel to certify the F/A-18E/F aircraft to carry new weapons."

The AIM-120C is a supersonic, medium range, active radar guided air-to-air missile with a high explosive warhead. This version of the missile has smaller control surfaces to meet the internal carriage requirements of other platforms carrying the weapon.

The F/A-18E/F Super Hornet entered combat on its maiden voyage in the summer of 2002 aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72). The Super Hornet remains combat deployed today in the global war on terrorism. More than 300 Super Hornets have been delivered to the Navy.

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