An X-51 mock-up hangs inside the Edwards AFB
Benefield Anechoic Facility during antenna
Photo: Mike Cassidy
2/1/2008 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE. CA -- The 412th
Test Wing Hypersonic Flight Test Team, Electronic
Warfare Directorate and Boeing began testing on the
X-51 Scramjet-Waverider's antennas at the Benefield
Anechoic Facility here Jan. 28.
The X-51 is an autonomous vehicle with a scramjet
engine enabling the aircraft to travel at a hypersonic
speed -- faster than six times the speed of sound.
The purpose of the monthlong test is to make sure all
of the X-51's antennas and communication systems are
"We have to make sure we have good receiving and
transmitting antennas before we actually fly the
aircraft," said 1st Lt. Richard Paek, X-51 lead
project engineer. "We also have to make sure we have
good coverage of antenna patterns, spectrum of
frequencies and bandwidth."
The testers are looking at two different types of
antennas -- a flight termination system antenna and
telemetry antenna -- that streamline all data from the
X-51, including performance, air and engine data,
Lieutenant Paek said.
The Boeing test team mounted the antennas on an X-51
mock-up. An antenna in the BAF will send signals to
the mock-up, while an engineer determines if the
aircraft is receiving the signal.
"We are testing at the BAF because it is a unique
facility," said Maj. Raimone Roberts, 412th TW
Hypersonic Flight Test Team projects director. "We are
able to isolate everything that is going on around so
we can really ensure the antennas are picking up the
Ground stations at Ridley Mission Control Center here
and at Naval Air Station Point Mugu at Ventura County,
Calif., "will communicate with the X-51 during its
flight (scheduled for August 2009)," Lieutenant Paek
said. "Each ground station has requirements such as
the strength of the radio frequency and bandwidth."
The data gathered in the BAF testing will help
determine if the antennas meet the requirements and to
see how well they work, he said.
The Air Force Research Laboratory, 771st Test
Squadron and Pratt and Whitney are also providing
support for the testing.
The aircraft will be loaded onto a B-52
Stratofortress. Boosted by an Army Tactical Cruise
Missile, the X-51 will then be dropped from an
altitude of 50,000 feet and will soar at hypersonic
"Hypersonics is the way of the future," Major Roberts
said. "This is a step in better understanding how
hypersonic is going to perform and what benefits it
will bring us as a military function."
Source: USAF Press Release by Senior Airman
Julius Delos Reyes