by Tim White and Andy Roake
Arnold Engineering Development Center Public Affairs
4/9/2006 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. (AFPN) -- The Arnold Engineering Development Center and the Air Force recently signed a lease to reopen the National Full-Scale Aerodynamics Complex located on NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.
Under the terms of a 25-year lease, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will retain ownership of the facility while AEDC operates the complex. NASA will provide general support services such as building maintenance, fire protection and security. Technical support can also be provided under provisions allowing the Air Force to purchase more services as required.
The value of the lease is estimated to be between $2 million and $4 million per year, depending on workload and services required. The initial term of the lease is six months, with a following four-and-one-half-year primary term. The lease may be extended for four additional five-year terms.
AEDC will operate the facility as a separate operating location, reporting directly to the AEDC commander here. AEDC has successfully operated its Hypervelocity Tunnel 9 in Silver Spring, Md., under the same arrangement for the last decade.
Congress authorized $5 million in fiscal 2005 and $14 million in fiscal 2006 to reopen the complex, which is a critical national aerodynamic test capability used primarily for rotorcraft. Significant work is in progress to install a functional instrumentation system and return NFAC systems to service.
A limited initial operational capability may be achieved by fall 2006, depending on the extent of maintenance and repair actions required. Full operational capability is expected in summer 2007. The anticipated majority customer for the NFAC will be the U.S. Army, as it was when the facility was open under NASA management.
"We are very pleased that the NFAC will be re-opening," said Dr. Lisa Porter, associate director of NASA's aeronautics research mission directorate. "This facility is a national asset of critical importance for aeronautics research, particularly rotorcraft research, and we intend to collaborate with the U.S. Army in rotorcraft research in the coming years."
The complex was built in 1944 to support research in aerodynamics, structural dynamics and acoustics. Research will involve using critical components (especially rotor blades) and, on occasion, full-size aircraft, to focus on the aerodynamic characteristics of new configurations with an emphasis on validating design estimates.
The complex has two test sections. One is 40 feet high by 80 feet wide and is capable of obtaining velocities up to 250 knots. The other test section is 80 feet wide by 120 feet high and is capable of obtaining velocities up to 80 knots.
NASA closed the complex in 2003 because of budget pressures.
(Courtesy of Air Force Materiel Command News Service)