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.


 
 

 
Navy photograph

Future USNS Fall River delivered

Navy photograph The joint high speed vessel USNS Fall River (JHSV 4) completes acceptance trials testing and evaluations in the Gulf of Mexico. The ship’s trials included dockside testing to clear the ship for sea and at-...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic

Future of NATO: Adapting to a new security environment

Air Force photograph by Michael J. Pausic Gen. Phillip Breedlove informs the assembled crowd about the results of the recent NATO Summit and the areas of instability that affect Europe that have regional implications. Seated in...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie

Air Force leaders discuss nuclear enterprise

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Carlin Leslie Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, speaks at the The Nuclear Enterprise panel during the Air Force Association Air and Space Conference and Technology...
 

 
Army photograph

Night turns into day: Army researchers enable night lethality

Army photograph In complete dark from significant standoff, Soldiers use medium wave infrared technology to turn night into day. In science fiction, technology problems are solved with the stroke of a writer’s pen. In rea...
 
 

Breedlove: U.S. reconsidering troop reductions in Europe

NATOís Supreme Allied Commander Europe said today that Pentagon leaders are reviewing decisions to scale down U.S. military forces in Europe in light of the changing security environment on the continent triggered by Russiaís annexation of Ukraineís Crimean peninsula and Moscowís ongoing support for rebels in the east. I have talked to leadership here about...
 
 
Air Force photograph by MSgt. J. Scott Wilcox

Aerial target QF-16 takes to the sky

Air Force photograph by MSgt. J. Scott Wilcox The first unmanned QF-16 Viper struck down over the Gulf of Mexico Sept. 5, 2014, was part of a joint effort between the Test and Training Division at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., an...
 




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>