|Final tests begin on C-130J
10/9/2003 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE
BASE, Calif. (AFPN) -- An electronic warfare test team
here began the final phase of testing Oct. 7 of an integrated defensive
system installed on a C-130J Hercules. Testing should be complete
by Thanksgiving, with publication of the final test report scheduled
for February 2004.
The C-130J, a medium-range tactical airlift aircraft designed primarily
to transport cargo and people into theater, does not have any defensive
systems. Adding such a system will increase the aircrew's situational
awareness in a continuously changing threat environment, according
to test officials.
"The C-130J has never had defensive systems," said Teresa Upperman, 412th Test
Wing Electronics Warfare electronics engineer. "This is the first time these
systems have ever been installed on this model of the C-130."
According to Upperman, the systems added were a radar warning receiver,
a countermeasures dispensing system and a missile warning system.
"In other aircraft, these are stand-alone systems," she said, "but in the J model
they have all been integrated into the aircraft mission computer.
"They work on the same principles as the F/A-22 (Raptor) and the (Joint Strike
Fighter)," Upperman said. "Instead of stand-alone systems, which can't communicate
with any other part of the plane, the J model's defensive systems have been integrated
with the aircraft's avionics system. Not only are the defensive systems able
to talk to each other, but they can also pass and receive information like airspeed
and altitude, a real benefit during war."
The final phase of testing, known as "open-air testing" is taking
place at nearby China Lake Naval Weapons Center. Prior to this testing,
baseline software checks were conducted at Wright-Patterson Air Force
Base, Ohio. Then the plane, a C-130J from the 175th Wing at Warfield
Air National Guard Base, Md., arrived here Sept. 12 to begin ground
testing of the newly installed defensive systems.
"We needed to verify that all of the systems integrated into the mission computer
wouldn't interfere with other avionics systems before we went into flight," said
Ana Franco, 412th TW EW electronics engineer.
"First we tested the radar warning receiver by directing simulated threat signals
at the aircraft," she said. "Then we tested the countermeasures dispensing system
using a test set to confirm that the release buttons were functioning correctly."
Missile warning system checks could not be tested on the ground and
will have to be completed while the aircraft is airborne.
This final phase of testing will be the last chance to work out bugs
and fix any problems documented to date, according to Franco.
"During open-air testing, all the defensive systems are tested concurrently,
while flying the C-130J in an 'operational environment.' The operational testers
will then determine if what we have meets the warfighter's needs in the field," she