B-52 testing conducted at AEDC continues to pay off

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Testing performed at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex has proven critical to validate safe separation of new munitions from the B-52 Stratofortress, which has recently flight-demonstrated a joint direct attack munitions drop from the internal bay for the first time.

“The B-52 Stratofortress continues to deliver strategic capabilities to project power and secure the peace into the 21st century,” said Rick Bishop, Flight Systems Test manager at AEDC.

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

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 played an important role by providing testing and analysis support for safe store separation in the 16-foot propulsion wind tunnel.

To support the required wind tunnel testing, AEDC engineers, designers and craftsmen employed concurrent design and build techniques to quickly fabricate the 10-percent scale model of the B-52 Stratofortress that was used to conduct the tests.

Pete Macaluso, Air Force test manager, explained the creation of 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,” he said. “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.”

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. Results from the test data and subsequent analysis gave the program office confidence to increase the B-52’s guided-weapon capacity.

It was anticipated that added capability would enable the Joint Direct Attack Munitions, Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile, Miniature Air Launched Decoy and the MALD Jammer to be carried internally.

“In addition to designing and building a new 10-percent model of the aircraft, AEDC conducted two test programs to evaluate separation characteristics of the munitions currently undergoing flight testing,” Bishop said.

According to a release from Edwards Air Force Base, California, the B-52 Joint Direct Attack Munition Internal Weapons Bay Upgrade program recently completed developmental test at Edwards where it successfully demonstrated employment of JDAM munitions from the new Conventional Rotary Launcher. Crews flying from Edwards are testing the new internal rotary launcher to carry MIL-STD-1760 weapons, which previously had to be carried on external pylons because the Common Strategic Rotary Launcher in use in the B-52 could only carry gravity-release nuclear weapons, nuclear Air-Launched Cruise Missile, and the Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile.

With the successful demonstration of JDAM separations, test crews will be evaluating the use of JASSM and MALD variants.