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 July 28, 2014

News: U.S. has lost track of weapons given to Afghanistan - The United States supplied almost three quarter of a million weapons to Afghanistan’s army and police since 2004, but the military cannot track where many of those arms have gone, a new report found. Bill to improve VA has $17 billion price tag - A bipartisan...
 
 

News Briefs July 28, 2014

Marines seek authorization for dolphin deaths The Marine Corps is asking for a five-year authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service for incidental deaths of bottlenose dolphins during training exercises at a bombing and target range. The Sun Journal of New Bern, N.C., reports that Connie Barclay of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says...
 
 
Army photograph by David Vergun

Senior leaders explain Army’s drawdown plan

Army photograph by David Vergun No commander is happy when notified that a soldier from his or her command has been identified for early separation. But commanders personally notify those Soldiers and ensure participation in th...
 

 

Northrop Grumman awarded mission support services contract

The U.S. Army awarded Northrop Grumman a cost-plus-fixed-fee contract, with a potential value of $205 million, to continue providing mission logistics services in support of combat brigades training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif. The contract covers one base year and two one-year options. Support will include the full range of mission...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom

F-35 Rollout Marks U.S.-Australia Partnership Milestone

Lockheed Martin photograph by Beth Groom Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown delivers his remarks at the roll out ceremony for Australia’s first F-35. The official rollout of the first two F-35 Lightning II...
 
 
NASA/JPL-Caltech image

NASA’s Mars spacecraft maneuvers to prepare for close comet flyby

NASA/JPL-Caltech image This graphic depicts the orbit of comet C/2013 A1 Siding Spring as it swings around the sun in 2014. On Oct. 19, the comet will have a very close pass at Mars. Its nucleus will miss Mars by about 82,000 m...
 




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>