B-52 testing at AEDC continues to pay off


Testing performed at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) in Tennessee has proven critical to validate safe separation of new munitions delivered from the B-52 ‘Stratofortress’, which has recently flight tested for the first time a joint direct-attack munitions drop from the internal bay.

In the last few years, upgrades have been made to the bomb bay rotary launchers allowing the deployment of a number of new ‘smart’ munitions, and AEDC has tested and analyzed support for safe store separation in AEDC’s 16ft propulsion wind tunnel.

AEDC engineers, designers and craftsmen employed concurrent design-and-build techniques to quickly fabricate the 10% scale model of the B-52 used in the tests.

Pete Macaluso, Air Force test manager, explained that the wind tunnel model provided the Air Force with a capability it did not have before: “The large-scale wind tunnel model enabled testing from the pylons and the weapon bay, which increased the amount of data we could provide. In the past, the Air Force relied heavily on computer models, and that increased the amount of time required to perform store separation analysis which led to flight certifications.”

“One wind tunnel test provided more than 157,000 data points for the customer in the span of two months. It was extremely encouraging to see that amount of data being provided to the customer, and to note it matched the results of the historical data the customer had on hand,” said Macaluso.

The testing was requested by the B-52 Program Office of the Air Force’s Global Strike Command to validate separation of multiple weapons that previously had not been released from the B-52 weapons bay.

The first flight of the B-52 was April 15, 1952, with the plane officially entering service in 1955.

July 22, 2016

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