HomeNewsArticle Display

AEDC tests directed energy system in wind tunnel

Dr. Rich Roberts, chief of the Aerodynamics Branch Store Separation Section of Arnold Engineering Development Complex, looks at a directed energy system turret positioned on a sting in the 4-foot transonic wind tunnel at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., March 5, 2021. The branch plans to expand directed energy wind tunnel testing capabilities later this year with the addition of the Integrated Directed Energy Aero-Optical Surrogate, which is a subscale model of an F-15 Eagle with the ability to test laser pods.

Dr. Rich Roberts, chief of the Aerodynamics Branch Store Separation Section of Arnold Engineering Development Complex, looks at a directed energy system turret positioned on a sting in the 4-foot transonic wind tunnel at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., March 5, 2021. The branch plans to expand directed energy wind tunnel testing capabilities later this year with the addition of the Integrated Directed Energy Aero-Optical Surrogate, which is a subscale model of an F-15 Eagle with the ability to test laser pods. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jill Pickett)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. (AFNS) --

The Aerodynamics Branch of the Arnold Engineering Development Complex at Arnold Air Force Base, is helping the Air Force take directed energy systems airborne.

Directed energy systems use high-energy lasers or microwaves to degrade or destroy threats and targets.

“There is a growing interest for directed energy systems within the DoD [Department of Defense] for many purposes, especially defending our systems and personnel,” said Dr. Rich Roberts, chief of the Aerodynamics Branch Store Separation Section. “There are a number of systems in use and being developed across the DoD. Integrating the DE (directed energy) systems on aircraft has obvious benefits, but also creates challenges, especially at higher speeds.”

During flight, an aircraft creates shockwaves in the air and other aero-optics flow disturbances that can affect the beam quality and effectiveness of a directed energy system. Wind tunnel testing allows test engineers to visualize and measure these changes to the airflow while controlling variables such as Mach number and altitude pressure.

A directed energy test conducted recently in the 4-foot transonic wind tunnel is the culmination of approximately eight years of work. AEDC engineers have worked with MZA Associates Corp. through Small Business Innovative Research, and Commercial Readiness projects to develop the Aero Isolation Measurement System to enable aero-optical directed energy testing in the wind tunnels.

“Simply put, this system transmits a laser to the model, uses a miniaturized optical bench of sorts inside the model, then uses fiber optics to pipe the data to a wave front sensor system,” Roberts said. “From there, we can analyze data that tells us how the laser was impacted by the tunnel flow field around the model.”

MZA also was the customer for the recent test. The company has been working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency on a supersonic aero-mitigation project with the goal of lessening the impact of high-speed flow over a turret. A prototype of a flow mitigation fence was tested in 4T.

“We are looking at how well this design controls the air flow over the turret to minimize the impact moving air has on the performance of the system,” Roberts said. “We are also comparing tunnel test data to previously generated CFD [computational fluid dynamics] data to make sure the simulations properly represent actual data. This test in 4T was the first time that this system has been experimentally tested at supersonic conditions, in addition to the first time that the AIMS system has been used at AEDC. The test went very well, getting all the priority data over two days of testing. An initial look at the data shows a significant improvement in beam quality using this new aerodynamic fence design.”

Building on this new capability, AEDC is working through a SBIR project to develop the Integrated Directed Energy Aero-Optical Surrogate, which is a subscale model of an F-15 Eagle aircraft with the ability to test laser pods. The IDEAS hardware is scheduled to undergo acceptance testing later this year.

“The ability to perform aero-optical tests of directed energy systems in the wind tunnels represents a new test capability for AEDC,” Roberts said. “As more DE (directed energy) systems are developed and integrated onto aircraft, we’ll be able to help with design decisions, creating employment envelopes, defining adjacent weapons load outs and other things routinely needed by program offices and manufacturers.”

Engage

Twitter
Capt. Joseph Scerra, an F-15C Eagle pilot, is the first 159th FW pilot to complete a sortie w/ the F-35A. The miles… https://t.co/HCi9TnGn5S
Twitter
The 92nd Medical Group at @TeamFairchild, Washington, honed their skills during a week-long readiness exercise. Dir… https://t.co/RDEqLsy2hJ
Twitter
The Air Force Sustainment Center Contracting Directorate @RobinsAFB_GA hosted the First Look Program workshop. The… https://t.co/uhYMqYR5d5
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Under Secretary of the Air Force Gina Ortiz Jones launched her official Twitter account last week! Follow @UnderSecAF
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: #OTD we celebrate the official end of #WWII and the anniversary of the formal signing of the Instrument of Surrender abo…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Actions meeting words: In his confirmation hearing, SecAF Kendall said: “Our military is people first and foremost.” Y…
Twitter
Lt. Gen. Robert Miller, U.S. Air Force Surgeon General, visited the Center for Sustainment of Trauma & Readiness Sk… https://t.co/Pv571RpgaW
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF's message to #Airmen on their extraordinary efforts to evacuate U.S. citizens & others from #Afghanistan: "You off…
Twitter
The @39thAirBaseWing at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, reaches a milestone with its Agile Combat Employment program.… https://t.co/u4ucRL8duB
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: “We achieve deterrence by having a strong enough force that the potential enemy is afraid of us. That’s my job; to give…
Twitter
Airmen from Moody AFB, Georgia, conducted training near @SLDelta45 to prepare for operations supporting #SpaceX and… https://t.co/iBAAGOnsVn
Twitter
Reserve #Airmen from the @403rdWing at Kessler Air Force Base, Miss., joined over 250 Air Force Reservists and 4,0… https://t.co/yGq4xIPXbD
Twitter
A B-52 Stratofortress is rinsed off after a mission at Andersen AFB, Guam. Known as bird baths, this quick rinse… https://t.co/Q0N83eWt0V
Twitter
.@GenCQBrownJr was ceremoniously conferred a pin from the French Air and Space Force's Fighter Squadron 2/4 Lafayet… https://t.co/CLqypWZMPt
Twitter
#ICYMI - @USAF_ACC declared initial operational capability for the tactical air control party mobile communications… https://t.co/p09eQw9QXh
Twitter
RT @HQUSAFEAFAF: To date, @RamsteinAirBase has facilitated 42+ aircraft departures carrying more than 10,000 evacuees en-route to the USA a…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: With allies and partners, @INDOPACOM is committed to enhancing the stability in the Asia-Pacific region, by building secu…
Twitter
Aircraft and maintainers from across the #AirForce traveled to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, to particip… https://t.co/w2xSJtXNr1
Twitter
RT @HollomanAFB: #Airmen continue to establish support facilities, while also creating additional infrastructure, for the arrival of Afghan…
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,371,924
Follow Us