B1-B Lancer returns for testing in Benefield Anechoic Facility


The B-1B Lancer has returned to testing in the Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

Personnel from Edwards AFB and other testing specialists from the US Air Force have examined the B-1B’s ALQ-161 threat protection system with the goal of improving it to enhance the bomber’s survivability. The ALQ-161 is a receiver/transmitter that detects and identifies threat radio frequencies and then applies the appropriate jamming technique to protect the B-1 while on missions.

“The ALQ-161 receives all of the radio frequency energy when it’s flying and will process it and determine if it’s a threat, and then it can set up automatic jamming to jam that RF energy from a missile, aircraft or ground missile,” said Rodney Brooks, 579th Software Maintenance Squadron, out of Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, USA.

“The 161 system has been on the B-1B since it was built and we’ve done a lot of improvements in the last 10 years. We’re looking to make some more improvements in the future and we need to collect data from the antennas here in the BAF so we can move forward.”

Data is being collected from directional signal testing, antenna pattern testing and system channel testing. The team is observing how the ALQ-161 responds to signals and what the system is looking at when it sees signals out in the field. The data will be analyzed to see if hardware, software or both, need to be upgraded.

The BAF, operated by the 772nd Test Squadron, is the largest anechoic chamber in the world and can fit almost any airplane inside. It provides a signal-free space so electronic warfare tests can be conducted without radio frequency interference from the outside world.

“We should be able to get everything out of the BAF that we need. With the antenna patterning we seem to be getting a lot of good data. We will take that data back and see what we need to do with it,” Brooks said.

August 19, 2016

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