Competing and winning in the Electromagnetic Spectrum is more important than ever before. So how does Air Force Test Center accurately test and help make design choices on EMS technologies for customers? Anechoic chambers!
Anechoic chambers have long been used to characterize the performance of offensive and defensive EMS technologies. Their ability to isolate and control the EMS enables them to make them the most accurate threat representative environments in the test and training enterprise.
The Air Force Test Center operates two anechoic chambers with overlapping missions, Joint Preflight Integration of Munitions and Electronic Systems (J-PRIMES) at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and the Benefield Anechoic Facility located at Edwards AFB, Calif.
Recent chamber collaboration for a test at J-PRIMES demonstrated this mission overlap. The Operational Flight Program Combined Test Force tested an Angry Kitten Electronic Countermeasures Training Pod on an F-16 aircraft assigned to the 53rd Wing at Eglin AFB, Fla., Oct. 18-Nov. 5, 2021.
The existing J-PRIMES target generator was unable to meet the test programs objectives, which is why the BAF stepped in to assist.
“In today’s funding and resource constrained environment, test facilities have to get creative,” said Ronald Vanderkooy, chief, Installed Systems Test Flight. “It makes sense to leverage available resources such as the Advanced Radar Environment Simulator (ARES) from the BAF to meet this test program’s technical requirement, and possibly more in the future.”
The goal of the test was to characterize interoperability of the Angry Kitten with other F-16 systems like Fire Control Radar, making BAF support with the ARES necessary.
“With the one-team, one fight approach to test, the BAF was willing and able to partner with the J-PRIMES team and provided the ARES capability and associated expertise to successfully execute the test and achieve their test objectives,” said Gerry Van Peteghem, BAF chief engineer.
Utilization of the ARES allowed for presentation of a representative target to the F-16 modernized Fire Control Radar.
“With both chambers’ demand surpassing capacity, and the rising costs of test-technologies, the collaboration between J-PRIMES and the BAF is essential in supporting acquisition program demands and providing representative test environments for the warfighter,” said John Grigaliunas, Technical Advisor, Air Force Test Center
J-PRIMES provides testing of air-to-air and air-to-surface munitions and electronics systems on fighter-sized aircraft and land vehicles prior to open-air testing.
The BAF is the largest anechoic test facility in the world, fitting virtually every aircraft in the DOD’s inventory with few exceptions.
Both chambers serve to test and integrate avionics systems in a secure and repeatable, electromagnetically controlled environment, using state-of-the-art simulation and stimulation technology that closely duplicates operationally representative environments. Their isolation from the outside world make them secure and enable experimentation and problem-solution discovery.
Ground testing in AFTC’s chambers offer customers affordable and valuable performance data in order to make design decisions and iron-out integration issues before flight test.
“DOD goals demand that the test enterprise focus on EMS superiority and great power competition,” said Grigaliunas. “AFTC will continue collaborating to ensure our chambers represent the modern electromagnetic operational environment.”