49th Test Squadron (49 TESTS)
The 49th Test Squadron (49 TESTS) at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana is home to several bomber operational test programs. Primary among these are the Nuclear Weapon System Evaluation Program, the bomber portion of the Air to Ground Weapon System Evaluation Program, and initial operational test of the Joint Direct Attack Munition and the Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser. The squadron is an Air Combat Command (ACC) unit tasked to support and conduct operational testing from all three Air Force bombers. The squadron's main focus is on the B-52 with additional testing being conducted on the B-1 and B-2. To accomplish its mission, the 49 TESTS must use operational bombers as there are no test coded bombers in ACC.
The weapon system engineers at the 49 TESTS require much of the same data collected on test coded aircraft (Mil-Std-1553, video, GPS TSPI, and telemetry). These operational aircraft must be modified to include specialized instrumentation much the same as any test coded aircraft would. However, several factors hamper the usual modification process used at the developmental test centers. Primary among these is the requirement to maintain the aircraft in an operational configuration, and still meet all of the safety of flight design criteria established by the aircraft's single manager. Secondary to the list of restrictions is modification time. Aircraft resources are stretched quite thin when one considers all of the bomb wing's operational commitments. When the bomb wing releases an aircraft for test missions, the testers must insure that the schedule impact is minimal. Therefore, these systems must install and de-install within one to two days and be completely portable. Placing holes in existing structures or adding new permanent structure is unacceptable. In addition, these aircraft must be capable of returning to combat ready status at any time.
The 49 TESTS instrumentation flight is responsible for both weapon telemetry payload, and aircraft instrumentation installation and checkout, while the engineering flight provides design expertise. This paper centers on the installation and operation of the 49 TESTS airborne instrumentation on the B-52 bomber. The squadron's current modifications include Mil-Std-1553 data recording using the Bomber Airborne Data Acquisition System (BADAS) and video recording using the Bomber Airborne Video Recording System (BAVRS). The squadron will continue to expand its capabilities by introducing Global Positioning System (GPS) Time-Space-Position-Information (TSPI) and airborne telemetry recording later in 1998. All instrumentation is designed and procured by the 49 TESTS with some additional help from the 412 Test Wing at Edwards AFB.
The 49 TESTS conducts operational test and evaluation of the Air Force's bomber fleet from Barksdale AFB. These tests include Follow-On Operational Test and Evaluations (FOT&Es) of hardware/software modifications, support of Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) of new hardware/software, Tactics Development and Evaluation (TD&E) of the B-52, and support of Foreign Materiel Exploitation (FME) testing with the B-52. Tests are conducted both at Barksdale AFB in Louisiana and Minot AFB in North Dakota. Therefore, any system must be designed to be easily shipped between bases.
At the start of each new test program, a lead weapon system engineer is designated to determine test requirements. From these requirements, a list of required data parameters is generated. This list of parameters is handed off to the lead instrumentation engineer to determine instrumentation requirements. Thus far, the squadron's instrumentation section has been tasked to record Mil-Std-1553, video displays, and is currently being tasked to record GPS TSPI and telemetry on the aircraft during flight.
Typically, an aircraft is borrowed from the bomb wing 72 hours prior to the mission. Within that time, the aircraft must be loaded with the test weapons, instrumented, and prepared for flight. Typical modification time is 12 hours using three people. With the addition of the GPS TSPI and telemetry recording, this time is expected to extend to 24 hours using three people.
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