B-52 in Benefield Anechoic Facility


By Dario Leone
Jan 28 2017
Share this article

The Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards AFB is the largest anechoic chamber in the world and can fit any airplane inside

As told by Kenji Thuloweit, 412th Test Wing Public Affairs in the article B-52 undergoes HERO testing at Edwards AFB, a B-52 Stratofortress from the 96th Bomb Squadron (BS) at Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB), Louisiana, is undergoing Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance (HERO) testing in the Benefield Anechoic Facility (BAF) at Edwards AFB, Calif..

The test was requested by the B-52 Program Office at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, to comply with a recent mandate from the Air Force Safety Office according to members of the 772nd Test Squadron (TS) who oversee BAF operations. The mandate states all Air Force weapons platforms will conduct Electromagnetic Environmental Effects evaluations. This test with the B-52 concentrated on the HERO element.

Ordnance and other devices that contain electro–explosive devices must function in their operational electromagnetic environment without inadvertently activating. To prevent the susceptibility of ordnance to radiated or conducted electromagnetic energy, HERO limits are imposed. HERO tests are conducted to classify the ordnance’s susceptibility to electromagnetic radiation as HERO Safe, HERO Susceptible, or HERO Unsafe.

“The advantage of using the BAF chamber allows for more sensitive measurements with low background noise levels, as compared to testing on the flightline where there are numerous interfering radio frequency sources,” said Hannah Dahlgren, the 772nd TS project lead engineer. Since no signals escape the chamber, the customer does not have to deal with regulatory clearances to radiate from the aircraft, which typically results in transmitting late at night only to avoid interfering with flightline and commercial operations.”

The BAF at Edwards AFB is the largest anechoic chamber in the world and can fit any airplane inside. It provides a “free space” so electronic warfare tests can be conducted without radio frequency interference from the outside world. The chamber is filled with radiation-absorbing material, or RAM, designed to stop reflections of electromagnetic waves. The size of the RAM, which is painted dark blue or black, varies depending on the particular frequency and test procedure being conducted. Aircraft systems can be tested and verified that they work properly in lieu of an actual flight test.

Dahlgren said the physical placement of the B-52 in the chamber was accomplished in four days. Once the jet was backed into the chamber, the bomber and the jack stands were placed on the turntable and rotated 180 degrees.

Members of the 772nd Test Squadron placed the radiation-absorbing material around the aircraft along with pallets of ferrite tiles to absorb the various emitting frequencies from the B-52 Stratofortress, at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif..

”There were no challenges relating to the size of the B-52. However, it was the first time the B-52 was jacked up within the BAF. This presented some logistics coordination challenges and analyses,” Dahlgren said.

A maintenance team from Minot AFB, North Dakota, jacked the aircraft up and the landing gear was retracted to simulate in-flight conditions. Members of the 772nd TS placed the radiation-absorbing material around the aircraft along with pallets of ferrite tiles to absorb the various emitting frequencies from the aircraft.

Real ordnance is not needed during the testing because the BAF’s equipment can simulate real-life radio frequency and electromagnetic conditions; sensors can collect data from the areas where the B-52 would carry weapons.

“Testing in the BAF allows the B-52 Program Office to collect a complete set of data at a higher fidelity and in shorter time in a secure, controlled environment than it would have been possible anywhere else. Being indoors also proved beneficial during the recent [inclement] weather that we have had at Edwards,” Dahlgren said.

Due to local test scheduling, Air Force Global Strike Command (AGGSC) provided the B-52 in place of an Edwards’ bomber. An offensive and defensive weapons aircrew member is also on loan to operate the on-board systems. Minot AFB, provided a maintenance team to support the test. Local manpower and logistical support is being provided by 912th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (AMXS) and electronic warfare personnel from Eglin AFB, Florida, are also involved.

“We also had contractor engineering support provided by Boeing and the Harris Corporations. This test would not have been possible without the outstanding professional collaboration and support from all members of the team,” Dahlgren said.

Testing is scheduled to be completed Jan. 30.

A B-52 Stratofortress from the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., is backed into the Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., Jan. 9, 2017.

Photo credit: Ethan Wagner / U.S. Air Force

Share this article

Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this article

Share this article
Share this article

Always up to date! News and offers delivered directly to you!

Get the best aviation news, stories and features from The Aviation Geek Club in our newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

Error: Contact form not found.

Share this article
Back to top
My Agile Privacy
This website uses technical and profiling cookies. Clicking on "Accept" authorises all profiling cookies. Clicking on "Refuse" or the X will refuse all profiling cookies. By clicking on "Customise" you can select which profiling cookies to activate. In addition, this site installs Google Analytics in version 4 (GA4) with anonymous data transmission via proxy. By giving your consent, the data will be sent anonymously, thus protecting your privacy. We and our selected ad partners can store and/or access information on your device, such as cookies, unique identifiers, browsing data. You can always choose the specific purposes related to profiling by accessing the advertising preferences panel, and you can always withdraw your consent at any time by clicking on "Manage consent" at the bottom of the page.

List of some possible advertising permissions:

You can consult: our list of advertising partners, the Cookie Policy and the Privacy Policy.
Warning: some page functionalities could not work due to your privacy choices