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.


 
 

 
Courtesy photograph

AEDC and AFRL collaborate to make advances in hypersonic technology

Air Force photograph by Mike Smith As part of the U.S.-German cooperative program known as Hypersonic International Flight Experimentation, an integrated aerodynamic and aerothermal test and analysis of a hypersonic cruise vehi...
 
 

Minuteman III rocket motor aging surveillance test completed at AEDC

Arnold Engineering Development Complex personnel completed testing of a Minuteman III Stage II motor in the Complex’s J-6 Large Rocket Test Facility for aging surveillance of the 48-year-old defense program. “The Stage II motor is part of the Minuteman III Aging and Surveillance test program to obtain motor performance data that is used to identify...
 
 
navair-triton

MQ-4C Tritons to arrive at Pax River this fall

  MQ-4C Triton test air vehicles at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, Calif., will fly cross-country to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., this fall. The MQ-4C completed a test flight Aug. 19 with updated ...
 

 
global-hawk2

Air Combat Command loans Global Hawk to GVCTF

Air Force photograph by Jennifer Romo The 412th Test Wing’s Global Vigilance Combined Test Force received a Global Hawk Block 40 Aug. 6, on loan from Air Combat Command. Tail number 2035, from Grand Forks AFB, N.D., is jo...
 
 
C130b

C-130 Hercules still going strong at 60

Air Force photograph The C-130H Hercules dons the new eight-blade NP-2000 propellers. The 418th Flight Test Squadron replaced the C-130H Hercules’ four-bladed propellers with the eight-bladed propellers in 2008 in support...
 
 
Army photograph by Sgt. Brandon Hubbard

Romania air base replaces Transit Center Manas

Army photograph by Sgt. Brandon Hubbard Oregon Army National Guard, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team Soldiers from load onto a C-17 Globemaster III Aug. 13, 2013, bound for Afghanistan from Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, Romani...
 




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>