Aircraft RCS Functional Test Facility

In the early 1980’s The Howland Company became heavily involved in the design and evaluation of radar cross section measurement facilities. Stealth technology had advanced to the point where the signals being returned from targets were at very low levels and could not be effectively measured using the existing technology. The Howland Company pioneered different chamber and anechoic material configurations to reduce the background level of reflected signals.

The infamous F-22 Raptor is known to have stealth characteristic of its design. F-22 Raptor is manufactured at Lockheed Martin's plant in Marietta, Georgia. The final production test prior to delivery of the aircraft to the United States Air Force is a functional test of its stealth characteristics.

Measurements are made on each completed aircraft in a large 210 ft x by 150 ft x by 45 ft (64m x 46m x 14m) echoic chamber. The aircraft is wheeled into the chamber on its landing gear, where low-RCS pylons lift the aircraft so that its landing gear can be retracted, placing the aircraft in its operational configuration.

The Howland Company designed the echoic chamber. They designed and built an anechoic aperture to illuminate the aircraft, and probed the resulting electromagnetic field to verify the proper illumination of the test article. They prepared the specification for the high performance instrumentation radar. They also prepared the specifications for the 40ft diameter turntable and the lifting pylons.

During the construction phase of the project, The Howland Company was responsible for overseeing much of the work related to the echoic chamber, instrumentation radar, and turntable.

Three views of the F-22 RCS Functional Test Facility (above) and a closeup (below) of the instrumentation radar antenna array and aperture.


Jim Howland said...

This is the first facility of its kind, and continues to be used for tests of every F-22 as it comes off the production line. A similar facility has been completed at Lockheed's F-35 production facility in Ft. Worth. Work is underway to build another facility at Hill AFB in Utah for F-22 (and eventually F-35) depot maintenance, and there are plans for additional facilities in Italy and the UK to support NATO F-35s.

admin said...

Thanks for the info Jim.

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