3-D Imaging Helps A-10C Integrate Latest Technologies

A-10C #79-0088 undergoes computerized diagnostic measurement at Eglin AFB, using Virtual Surveillance Target Attack Radar System technology 6/12/08
Photo: USAF / Staff Sgt. Stacia Zachary

6/18/2008 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FL -- The A-10C Thunderbolt II is undergoing state-of-the-art 3-D measurement to help the close-air support fighter jet carry the latest in smart weapons technology June 9-20 at the King Hangar here.

The 46th Test Wing's Air Force SEEK EAGLE Office (AFSEO) Computerized Physical Fit team is collecting approximately 100,000 3-dimensional data points on an A-10C aircraft. The A-10C being measured is on loan from the Maryland National Guard and is being used for the test under direction of the test wing's 40th Flight Test Squadron. The team is using their V-STARS, or Visibility Size and Shape Targeting Accuracy Room Scale, photogrammetry system of triangulation to collect data. Data points are being collected on every external surface of the aircraft. These data points will be used to build a digital model of the aircraft that is representative of operational aircraft. Once complete, dimensions of the model will be accurate within 0.03 inches of the aircraft measured.

"In the 1970s, when the A-10 was produced, engineering analyses were done with 2-D drawing and extensive ground and flight testing. Today, 3-D models are created as aircraft are being designed," said Mark Hillman, Air Force SEEK EAGLE Office, Lead Engineer, Fit/Function. "These 3-D models are used as the basis for many of AFSEO's engineering analyses including: computerized physical fit, computational fluid dynamics, electromagnetic interference/compatibility and store separations. This new modeling capability will help minimize store integration costs by reducing the number of ground and flight tests."

"Over the years, the A-10 has proven itself as a true asset to the warfighter and has undergone several upgrades to include completely refitting many of the planes in our inventory with new parts," said Paul Collins, 46 SK, Computerized Physical Fit Team Lead. "This is just one more step in integrating an old but viable, combat-proven machine with the most current technology available."

The V-STARS program is helping bring an aging aircraft online with the latest technological advances, making it a stronger asset to the United States and a deterrent to the enemy.

"We did this with other aircraft in the Air Force arsenal," Mr. Collins said. "This is just the latest aircraft targeted to undergo the V-STARS measurement. Our end product is to create a digitized model to help us upgrade the aircraft similar to what we did with the B-52H Stratofortress. Many of our aircraft are still very useful work horses and all they need is to be brought online with new technology to continue to be a huge asset."

Source: Eglin AFB Press Release by Staff Sgt. Stacia Zachary

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