February 29, 2008 (by Lieven Dewitte) - The Royal Danish Air Force (RDAF) has successfully completed the first flight tests and F-16 MLU M5 System Integration Laboratory Tests of the ESTER (Enhanced Smart Triple Ejector Rack) on an F-16.
FAV F-16 with triple ejector rack at Puerto Ordaz Airport, Venezuela on May 25th, 2004. [Photo by Iván Peña Nesbit]
The Triple Ejector Rack (TER) is a weapon-suspension unit which is attached to the aircraft's weapon pylons, enabling each pylon to carry three weapons. The TER-9 version is suitable for under-wing F-16 laser-guided and ballistic weapons, with the ability to release weapons individually.
The ITT/Terma ESTER program upgrades the TER-9 racks by adding the capability to carry modern smart weapons which operate on the military standard 1760 interface. These include the Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM
) and Enhanced Paveway II (EGBU-12/BRU-49). Provisions for future Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) are also part of the ESTER, and initial tests on the SDB compatibility will be performed this spring under an ITT/Terma internally funded program.
The initial RDAF
flight tests were aimed at verifying the functionality and reliability of the cable retention unit. The bombs were successfully released from the ESTER with the new retention unit which has been installed in lieu of the existing MIL-STD-1760 umbilical cable retention system, and the new Terma/ITT developed units performed flawlessly.
ESTER also passed the F-16 MLU
M5 System Integration Laboratory (SIL) testing in Fort Worth, as part of the EPAF MLU
M5 test program. The tests were conducted without problems, and the ESTER test units are now ready for the F-16 MLU M5 flight tests in the U.S. this year.
The RDAF representative Klavs Andersen, Chief of the Business Unit Fighter Aircraft including the ESTER program, said: "I am satisfied with the performance of the ESTER, the physical release and retention system worked well, and we are now ready to continue flight testing in the U.S. as part of the M5 program."