New partners, new missions
By Deidre Ortiz, AEDC/PA
/ Published January 10, 2017
ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. --
The 846th Test Squadron, part of the 704th Test Group at Holloman AFB, New Mexico, is a unit of AEDC.
The 846th Test Squadron operates the Holloman High Speed Test Track (HHSTT), which simulates selected portions of the flight environment under accurately programmed and instrumented conditions.
This capability fills the gap between laboratory investigations and full scale flight tests. The squadron is also the Department of Defense "Center of Expertise" for all ejection seat testing and the lead facility for all supersonic tracks.
The squadron upgraded its capability under the Hypersonic Upgrade Program and set a world record on April 30, 2003. The program provides increased velocity capabilities as well as a four-fold improvement in the dynamic environment of sled tests. This improvement not only allows faster test velocities, but also provides a higher fidelity payload capability.
The 846th Test Squadron has also developed a magnetic levitation capability which will significantly reduce vibrations. This allows for taking larger payloads to higher speeds. The technology required for this magnetic levitation capability has potential commercial application for both land and space transportation. Additionally, the 846th Test Squadron has also been designated as the test organization for Theater Missile Defense hypersonic warhead lethality validation.
The squadron's capabilities are unique in subsonic through hypersonic velocities. Payloads up to full-scale aircraft can be tested at realistic flight velocities. The squadron is fully staffed for test management, test design, engineering, analysis, hardware fabrication, test buildup and support.
Operated by the 846th TS, the HHSTT is the world's premier rocket sled test track. The mission of the 846th TS is to plan and execute world-class rocket sled tests enabling critical weapon system development in support of the warfighter using world-class people, technical excellence, cost-effectiveness and agility.
At 59,971 feet, the HHSTT is the longest facility of its type in the world. Each of the three rails that form the track is continuously welded, in tension at temperatures below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and aligned to within 0.04 inches of intended position in the operational region of the track. The HHSTT serves as a critical link between laboratory-type investigations and full-scale flight tests by simulating selected portions of the flight environment under accurately programmed and instrumented conditions, often before flight-worthy hardware is available.
Test vehicles (sleds) are accelerated to mission velocities by means of solid rocket motors, frequently in multi-stage operation. Sled speeds in excess of 9,400 feet per second have been demonstrated in the past and the 846th TS is pursuing an on-going improvement program to achieve speeds in excess of 10,000 feet per second in support of future customer requirements. Sleds weighing up to 60,000 pounds have been used and heavier sleds can be operated if required.
Depending on payload size, instantaneous accelerations of more than 200 g-force or 1962 meters per second squared have been demonstrated. For a wide range of test problems, the HHSTT provides and efficient, safe and cost-effective ground test alternative to the more expensive developmental flight tests.
Complementing the Test Track itself, the overall HHSTT complex encompasses ancillary facilities for artificial rain simulation, an accurately surveyed ejection test area, captive and free-flight blast test sites, impact test sites and a horizontal rocket test stand. Support facilities include buildings for electronic and photo-optical instrumentation, a telemetry ground station and engineering and shop facilities for design and fabrication of test hardware.