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Final tests begin on C-130J systems
Testing it out
EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A C-130J Hercules sits in the Benefield Anechoic Facility here during a defensive systems electronic warfare test. Ground testing of the systems took place in the chamber to ensure all of the systems integrated into the mission computer would not interfere with other avionics systems before the aircraft began operational test flights. Open-air testing of the integrated defensive systems began Oct. 7 at China Lake Naval Weapons Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Thomas Powell)



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 said.