Officials at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station (PAX) say its Anechoic Chamber is a viable option for rapid testing and mission readiness: “it’s a win-win. It’s about speed to the fleet, safety, efficiency and cost savings.”
Recent live, virtual, and constructive infrastructure development of the AN/UPX-43 IFF Interrogator AIMS Certification test process, which is just one of the projects executed at PAX’s Anechoic Chamber, this fall resulted in reduced scheduling and costs for future certification testing. By conducting the AIMS certification in the chamber, versus inflight, the savings were achieved from 12 weeks at $5.31 million, producing 3.6 hours of data to approximately, 3.5 weeks of testing at about $800 thousand, yielding about 15 hours of data.
“Right now, one of the most important things we do for the warfighter is to get them the technology they need to complete their mission,” said Lt. Denver White, aircraft [P-8A] project officer. “With the Anechoic Chamber, we are not susceptible to weather or other flight test issues that might cause test delays.”
The P-8A’s Interrogator IFF-I infrastructure development results using the Multi-Jammer Characterization Wall is compared using previous flight test results at the AIMS Program Office to prove the capability for future P-8A AIMS certifications.
“It is historic and important; the P-8A had not been in the chamber for several years, and when it was in the chamber, these specific systems were not tested nor was infrastructure developed for them,” said White. “Since we are not in the air, and we have a lot more instrumentation on the ground we can slow down, look into a deficiency more to isolate it.”
About 75 percent of the required tests were conducted from inside the chamber. Once inside, UPX-43 Identification Friend or Foe; Interrogator, ALQ-240 Electronic Support Measures system; APY-10 Radar; GPS and cyber security of communications and navigation systems testing were all conducted; Saving time, money and wear-and-tear on the aircraft and parts. The aircraft was stressed during real-world flight test scenarios, using the navigation simulation equipment.
There was simulated motion, position and altitude, which allowed the P-8A mission systems to experience airborne environments and engage with other systems and platforms.
In the controlled environment, testers may try a lot of methods that aren’t options when airborne, he said. The testing gets to the root cause, which ultimately allows the deficiency to be evaluated, repaired and gets the aircraft back to the fleet mission ready.
If the test methods are approved and deemed successful, these methods may be used for other Navy aircraft, such as, the MQ-25 Stingray, F-18 Super Hornet, MH-60R Seahawk and F-35 Lightning II. The initial testing using this method was used on the P-8A Poseidon and its mission systems.