A KC-46A Pegasus has entered the Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., for the first time.
The new aerial refueling tanker is undergoing tests to demonstrate that it meets Federal Aviation Administration certification requirements and DOD electromagnetic environmental effects requirements for systems. These tests include shielding effectiveness, emission control and high intensity radiated fields.
The tests are to confirm that the KC-46A systems do not suffer performance degradation that would prevent mission completion when subjected to the external radio frequency environment and that undesirable emissions are controlled.
The tests are being conducted in the BAF to provide an electromagnetically controlled environment suitable for critically sensitive radio frequency measurements.
The BAF, operated by the 772nd Test Squadron, is the largest anechoic chamber in the world and can fit most aircraft inside. It provides a location where electronic warfare tests can be conducted without radio frequency interference from the outside world. The chamber is filled with polyurethane and polyethylene pyramids designed to stop reflections of electromagnetic waves. The size of the pyramids, which are painted dark blue or black, varies depending on the particular frequency and test procedure being conducted. Aircraft systems can be tested and verified that they work properly prior to actual flying.
“It also provides efficient testing that requires a large amount of high power RF radiation whereas outdoors this would be very restrictive, typically limited to shorter nighttime test operations,” said Delia Reyes, 772nd TS project lead engineer.
Participants in the test include Boeing, 772nd Test Squadron, 418th Flight Test Squadron and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division.
Three specialized, high-power electromagnetic radiating trailers are being used for the tests.
The Air Force’s KC-46A tanker modernization program is among the Air Force’s highest acquisition priorities, program managers say. Being able to refuel military aircraft in the air is critical to the U.S. military’s ability to effectively operate globally. The Air Force initiated the KC-46 program to replace about a third of its aging KC-135 Stratotanker fleet, they say.
The KC-46A is designed to provide improved capability, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie; worldwide navigation and communication; airlift capability on the entire main deck floor; receiver air refueling; improved force protection and survivability; and multi-point air refueling capability.