NAWCWD Completes Most Complex Weapons Survivability Tests to Date

NAWCWD successfully supported the KC-46 tanker with the most detailed, advanced weapons survivability test series ever conducted at the Weapons Survivability Lab (WSL), China Lake, California on April 7.

The KC-46, a refueling aircraft, is a derivative of the commercially-available, Federal Aviation Administration certified Boeing 767-2C.

“Excellent tests,” said KC-46 lead engineer Scott Wacker, weapons survivability expert. “These have never been done before, so I’m happy to say that we met all our objectives. I believe that we are advancing the state of the art in understanding vulnerability in aircraft.”

The tests, outlined by the KC-46 Live Fire Test and Evaluation Program (LFT&E), will be used to assess KC-46, system-level survivability in high-fidelity, operational environments against ballistic and advanced threats. The results provided a wide range of data instrumental in mitigating worst-case scenarios for the aircraft, which directly improves and preserves warfighting capability.

“There were over 330 channels collecting raw data, 10 high speed cameras recording 10,000 to 100,000 frames per second and 30 real time video feeds,” said Eric Brickson, KC-46 LFT&E engineer. “We had a very extensive list of requirements and NAWCWD met them all.”

Representatives from NAWCWD, Boeing, the U.S. Air Force and the Institute for Defense Analysis were among several of the organizations and stakeholders present to witness the event at the WSL.

“It was a very successful test,” said Col. Chris Coombs, Air Force. “We designed these tests against the aircraft to see how it would perform, so we’d know if the people, whether they are pilots, operators or passengers, could survive on this plane under the most relevant of circumstances.”

According to the KC-46 Program Office, plans call for the procurement of 179 KC-46s to replace one third of the existing aerial refueling fleet.

The WSL consists of six separate test sites, including an engineering and test coordination lab, multiple shops (including machine, sheet metal, jet engine, assembly, coatings and welding) and test article preparation area. The WSL provides engineering, test planning and execution, instrumentation, data acquisition and controls, along with video and communication networking capabilities.

Source: Naval Air Systems Command
Date: Jun 3, 2015