April 21, 2006 (by Christopher Ball) - The F-22 Combined Test Force here achieved another first when a Raptor flew with an AIM-120D missile in its weapons bay to test the effect of noise and vibration on the missile on April 14.
Senior Airman Daniel Myers, Staff Sgt. Daphne Jaehn and Staff Sgt. John Davenport load an AIM-120D Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile on an F-22A Raptor recently in preparation for noise and vibration testing here. The Airmen are all part of the 412 Senior Airman Daniel Myers, Staff Sgt. Daphne Jaehn and Staff Sgt. John Davenport load an AIM-120D on F-22A Raptor #91-4008, recently in preparation for noise and vibration testing here. The Airmen are part of the 412th AMU and are assigned to the F-22 Combined Test Force weapons flight. [Photo by Kevin Robertson]
What was unique about the flight was that the weapon on board, the latest version of the AIM-120
Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM
, is still being developed at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
"This is a first for the Raptor, as the weapon hasn't been fielded yet," said Capt. Jason Armstrong, an armament engineer with the 411th Flight Test Squadron here. "In the past, we've integrated existing weapons systems such as the JDAM
into the aircraft. We're doing this flight testing to help Eglin develop the weapon."
Micah Besson and Adam Yingling, structural engineers with the 411th FLTS, explained the need for noise and vibration testing.
"In previous tests with the C-7 (the AIM-120C), measurements determined that vibration levels in certain frequencies were harmful to the missile's electronics, Mr. Besson said.
The difference between the AIM-120D and the earlier C-model is in the navigation system, Mr. Yingling said.
"The cards inside are arranged differently, and we're not sure how vibro-acoustics will transmit," he said. "We needed to test the missile to validate Raytheon's modeling and assumptions."
Raytheon is the contractor responsible for designing and building the AIM-120 series missile.
The test plan includes putting the aircraft through a variety of maneuvers throughout the flight regime of the aircraft, including working with the weapons bay doors open and closed, Mr. Yingling said.
"We're trying to give the missile the worst ride and expose it to the worst possible environment," Mr. Yingling added.
He said the tests will allow Raytheon to gather data, which will be used in future qualification tests.