Defense

September 22, 2017
 

AEDC J-5 Rocket Motor Test Facility undergoing complete renovation

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Deidre Ortiz
Arnold AFB, Tenn.

The AEDC J5 Large Rocket Motor Test Facility exhaust system will be refurbished for future facility operation during the Hypersonic Test Capability Improvement project. The HTCI project will transform J-5 into a large-scale clean air variable Mach test facility with extended runtime capabilities.

As part of the Hypersonic Test and Evaluation Investment Program, a team of AEDC engineers is heading up the Hypersonic Test Capability Improvement project which will totally transform the former J-5 Large Rocket Motor Test Facility at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn.

Nicknamed, “Project Phoenix,” this effort is structured in three phases that will produce a large-scale clean air variable Mach test facility with a longer runtime than any facility of its kind.

According to Jonathan Osborne, HTCI project manager and technical lead, the creation of this facility will support future hypersonic system weapon acquisition and research and development programs for generations to come.

“The HTCI project will progress the state-of-the-art in hypersonic ground test and evaluation for both air breathing propulsion and boost glide systems,” he said. “The fundamental approach to the development of the HTCI facility is to deliver a complete, operational test capability for hypersonic ground test and evaluation over the course of three blocks.”

Osborne explained that each block, or phase, will provide a unique test capability “not found anywhere else in the world.”

The J5 Large Rocket Motor Test Facility building, pictured, will soon have a new regenerative storage heater system installed as part of the Hypersonic Test and Evaluation Program improvements occurring at the facility.

“Block 1 will utilize regenerative storage heaters with alumina refractory to achieve true temperature clean air test conditions,” he said. “At the conclusion of Block 1, a fully operational test facility capable of Mach 6 clean air test simulations will be available for hypersonic weapon system development. Block 1 will also incorporate the capability to attain mission duration runtime to appropriately test weapons systems to their full design potential on the ground prior to flight.”

The inclusion of a model injection system with variable angle of attack and angle of sideslip is another aspect of Block 1, enabling the ability to simulate mission representative vehicle attitudes for accurate performance and operability characterization.

Block 2 will then enhance the hypersonic test capability produced by Block 1 with the incorporation of a variable Mach number nozzle to achieve accurate flight trajectory simulations on the ground.

Jonathan Osborne, HTCI Project Manager and Technical Lead at Arnold Air Force Base (left) speaks with Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, Air Force Materiel Command commander (center) and Col. Scott Cain, AEDC commander (right), regarding the transformation of the AEDC J-5 test facility into a facility that will support future hypersonic system weapon acquisition and research and development programs.

“With the incorporation of a variable Mach number nozzle, testers will be able to simulate flight representative test article trajectories on the ground leading to reduced risk for the subsequent flight test program,” Osborne said.

Block 3 will complete the final operational capability by incorporating a yttria-stabilized zirconia regenerative storage heater system, which will boost the true temperature Mach number capability from Mach 6 to Mach 7.5.

Osborne stated that weapons development programs will significantly benefit from each block independently, and the benefits will be directly measured by the significant advancements in the quality of data acquired, programmatic and technical risk reduction, and decreased cost and schedule per data point currently available to the hypersonic community.

“Upon its completion, the HTCI facility will be the most capable facility for hypersonic weapon system development in the world,” Osborne said.
 

Gen. Ellen M. Pawlikowski, Air Force Materiel Command commander (far right); Col. Scott Cain, AEDC commander (center); and Maj. Gen. David Harris, Air Force Test Center commander (left); tour the AEDC J-5 Large Rocket Test Facility on Aug. 22. J-5 is currently undergoing renovation to become a large-scale clean air variable Mach test facility.

 

The existing J-5 Large Rocket Motor Test Facility at Arnold Air Force Base is undergoing removal of antiquated components in preparation for facility renovations. A team of AEDC engineers is heading up the Hypersonic Test Capability Improvement project which will totally transform J-5 into a large-scale clean air variable Mach test facility with a longer runtime than any facility of its kind.




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