53rd Wing brings cruise missile tests to climatic lab

An Air Launched Cruise Missile sits on a test stand in the McKinley Climatic Lab, Eglin AFB, Fla. The 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron conducted four functional ground tests of the ALCM during the month of March. (Air Force photograph by 1st Lt. Savanah Bray)

The 53rd Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., brought its test and evaluation mission to the McKinley Climatic Lab in March to test an air-launched cruise missile.

The ground testing was part of Air Force Global Strike Command’s Nuclear Weapons System Evaluation Program or NucWSEP.

The wing’s geographically separated unit, the 49th Test and Evaluation Squadron based at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., executes the annual program and its personnel were on hand for the testing here.

“In addition to operational test, modernizing the B-52 fleet, NucWSEP and these functional ground tests are key components of our mission,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Guasco, 49th TES commander.

During the tests, the ALCM is flown on a test stand in a climate-controlled chamber with temperatures ranging from minus 55 degrees to plus 120 degrees to simulate free flight.

Throughout the four-hour test, the ALCM sends data to 49th TES technicians.  Squadron members operate the test station that emulates the B-52 during the missile launch sequence and monitor missile performance. 

This type of testing provides engineering data to augment the assessment of weapon system’s reliability, suitability and supportability normally accomplished via flight testing. It also increases confidence in a weapon system that is one of the backbones of global deterrence. 

“It’s because of the men and women of the 49th TES and our Eglin partners that enable us to put these weapons to the test, ensuring they stay effective throughout their lifespan and beyond, directly supporting the NDS,” said Guasco. 

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