AEDC T-11 engine test cell modified to expand capabilities


The AEDC T-11 engine test cell at Arnold Air Force Base has been modified to meet future vision system weapon requirements (AEDC photo)

The Arnold Engineering Development Complex in the USA has enhanced its T-11 engine test cell to perform a wider variety of research tests in addition to its primary role of testing small engines in a direct-connect configuration.

The US Air Force’s project manager for upcoming technology tests in T-11, Joshua Osborne, said one of the largest benefits is that the enhancements provide a cost-effective way to develop and prove needed test techniques at a lower scale or at the component level, reducing risk to high-cost advanced weapon systems.

“Air Force test and evaluation capabilities must keep up with advanced weapon systems that are currently being developed, to help ensure that development programs advance to flight test with the confidence that performance requirements will be met or exceeded,” Osborne said.

According to David Beale, a member of the Facilities and Test Technology team at Arnold, the T-11 enhancement was a key element of an Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC) technology program initiative to develop ground test and evaluation (T&E) techniques that will prepare the complex to meet challenges introduced by future vision system weapon requirements.

“The development of the advanced T&E technologies demands laboratory tests to evaluate alternatives, validate test applications, validate test protocols and validate computational models,” Beale said.

“AEDC has a rich history of successes that used small laboratory facilities to prepare for major operational test capabilities.”

Technology plug-in modules have provided capabilities for direct-connect engine tests, free-jet tests and icing tests. The T-11 plenum has also been modified by installing a spool piece that enables the installation of a plenum apparatus and that provides the interface for the plug-in modules.

“The first technology test applications will include a direct-connect test using a Williams International F112 laboratory test engine to be provided by the Air Force Research Laboratory and a free-jet engine-airframe integration experiment,” said Beale.

The ability to rapidly install and remove these technology test modules will enable tests to be conducted in a short schedule window that will follow currently scheduled customer engine tests.

20 February 2018

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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