ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. – The AEDC T-11 engine test cell at Arnold Air Force Base has been enhanced to perform a wide variety of research tests in addition to its primary role of testing small engines in a direct-connect configuration.
The Air Force Project Manager for upcoming technology tests in T-11, Joshua Osborne, explained that one of the largest benefits is that this provides a cost effective way to develop and prove needed test techniques at a lower scale or at the component level to reduce 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 confidence that performance requirements will be met or exceeded,” he said.
According to David Beale, a member of the Facilities & Test Technology team at Arnold, the T-11 enhancement was a key element of an 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.”
Examples include: Tunnel 1T that readied technology for the Propulsion Wind Tunnel’s 16-foot Transonic tunnel; Tunnel D that accomplished the same for von KÃ¡rmÃ¡n Tunnel A; Engine Test Facility (ETF) Research Cell R1E that validated the Aeropropulsion Systems Test Facility air supply configuration prior to implementation; ETF Research Cell R2A2 that validated free-jet applications and methods for ASTF; and Research Cell R1D that regularly prepared for ETF icing tests.
The reactivation of the ETF test cells means that a gap in propulsion-related laboratory test capabilities is now being filled.
“The AEDC T-11 facility was reactivated by the Aeropropulsion Combined Test Force to provide a small engine test capability for our customers,” Beale said. “To meet the aeropropulsion technology test needs, the reactivated T-11 facility was modified to enable the rapid deployment and removal of test modules that provide unique laboratory environments for technology testing. Composed of components repurposed from the decommissioned ETF R-Cells, the family of so called technology plug-in modules provide capabilities for direct-connect engine tests, free-jet tests and icing tests.”
Beale explained that in order to implement the plug-in module concept, the T-11 plenum was 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 T-11 facility modifications also included a handling apparatus to enable legacy R-Cells to be literally rolled into the T-11 test section,” he said. “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.”
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.