Defense

August 26, 2013

Eglin’s 40th FTS expands A-10 fuel limitations in combat

Tags:
Samuel King Jr.
Eglin AFB, Fla.

An A-10C Thunderbolt II from the 40th Flight Test Squadron, moves down the runway at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The aircraft is loaded up with weaponry to test the combat carriage limits of the Sargent Fletcher external fuel tank. The A-10 flight personnel are testing to ensure the A-10 can carry the tank into a combat environment safely. If proven to be safe to carry, the tank will add up to 60 minutes of flighttime to its combat sortie.

The dreaded fuel light, either blinking or glowing red indicating low on gas, becomes a constant reminder that a stoppage of the drive, trip or mission is imminent. The A-10 section of the 40th Flight Test Squadron is testing the expansion of the Thunderbolt II’s fuel capability to prolong its flight time, remain in the fight and keep that fuel light off a while longer.

In 2012, Air Combat Command requested testing, via the Air Force Seek Eagle Office here, to possibly expand the A-10 carriage limits of its 600-gallon fuel tank with all existing fuel tank configurations such as various weapon loads.

“Currently, the A-10 doesn’t carry an external fuel store into combat,” said Maj. Olivia Elliott, the test pilot for the expansion. “The present flight limitations on the Sargent Fletcher tank restrict it from being flown in a combat environment.”

Flight testing was accomplished on the SF tank in 1997, but it was never evaluated for combat requirements. The goal for the 40th FTS team was to determine if the aircraft could safely reach those combat flight limits carrying the tank, thus carrying more fuel into battle.

An A-10C Thunderbolt II from the 40th Flight Test Squadron, returns to Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., after a test mission. The aircraft is loaded up with weaponry to test the combat carriage limits of the Sargent Fletcher external fuel tank. The A-10 flight personnel are testing to ensure the A-10 can carry the tank into a combat environment safely. If proven to be safe to carry, the tank will add up to 60 minutes of flighttime to its combat sortie.

“By expanding the fuel carriage limits, A-10C units can carry the 600-gallon tank into combat expanding loiter time by 45-60 minutes and pushing back tanker support,” said Elliott. “This will allow the aircraft to remain in flight during a combat situation longer, provide lengthier periods of armed over-watch for ground missions, as well as limit the amount of time spent air-to-air refueling during a combat sortie.”

In more than 30 missions, the tank was pushed to greater airspeeds, Mach levels and higher symmetrical (pulling Gs without rolling) and asymmetrical (rolling and pulling Gs) limits to simulate a possible combat setting.

At first, missions focused on gathering data to set the baseline for the aircraft’s handling characteristics. Then other missions focused on different aircraft load configurations to ensure sound flight capability.

“The scenarios were engineered to check a variety of weapons on the A-10 and clear the tank to the expanded limits with most combat weapons loaded on the aircraft,” said Capt. Rojas, of the 40th FTS.
There have been no anomalies seen to date in the testing, according to Elliott.

“The flying qualities of the aircraft show slightly reduced stability in the yaw axis; but during handling quality evaluations, there has been no decrease in aircraft tracking performance,” she said.

With only a few missions left to fly, the test team will begin the report write-up. The 40th passes on their findings to Seek Eagle. AFSEO will determine if a flight clearance can be issued. If it is, the Air Force Special Projects Office will update the A-10s flight clearance to include the expanded tank limits and the tank will be able to be used in combat.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines December 19, 2014

News: SpaceX’s attempt to land rocket on floating barge postponed - It’s set to be one of the most groundbreaking moments in humanity’s six decades of space exploration. Obama signs $1.1 trillion spending bill into law - President Obama signed the $1.1 trillion federal spending measure into law Dec. 16, officially ending any threat of a government...
 
 

News Briefs December 19, 2014

Trial set for ex-Navy engineer in military secrets case A former Navy civilian engineer is scheduled to stand trial next summer on charges of trying to steal aircraft carrier schematics. Media outlets report that 35-year-old Mostafa Awwad of Yorktown, Va., pleaded not guilty Dec. 17 to two counts of attempted exportation of defense articles and...
 
 
Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez

Army to launch cruise missile-detecting aerostat at Aberdeen Proving Ground

Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez The Army plans to launch an aerostat, part of the “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor,” in late December 2014. The JLENS aerostat will be tethered to the...
 

 
Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan

AF delivers Iraqi F-16s for training in US

Air Force photograph by SrA. Jordan Castelan Iraqi air force captain Hama conducts preflight inspections while inside a new to service Iraqi F-16 Fighting Falcon Dec. 17, 2014, located at the nearby Tucson International Airport...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn

Short-notice: A new way to exercise

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Derek VanHorn Airmen from Kadena Air Base, Japan, prepare for an aeromedical evacuation exercise on a KC-135 Stratotanker Dec. 5, 2014, at Misawa Air Base, Japan. The operation was executed in supp...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Andy Wolfe

Japan, Australia to provide F-35 maintenance sites in Pacific region

Lockheed Martin photograph by Andy Wolfe An F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter carrier variant prepares to launch from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean, Nov. 6, 2014. Japan and Australia will be sharing...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>