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White Oak, Maryland

The Air Force Arnold Engineering Development Center assumed management for the former Navy Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 at the former Naval Surface Warfare Center in White Oak, Maryland on 01 October 1997.

The closing of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC WO) has afforded the General Services Administration ample property within the congested Washington D.C. corridor to accommodate the growing needs of many federal agencies headquartered in the district. The Food and Drug Administration has acquired congressional funding to consolidate all its research and development offices within the former Navy property. A $650 million state-of-the-art office and lab compound will be erected over the next seven years. The Maryland Department of the Environment's (MDE) efforts to assist with the expeditious environmental restoration of the base in order to allow the Food and Drug Administration to commence relocation proceedings have been pivotal to the success of the project. Old Site 3 Landfill before remediation.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center-White Oak (NSWC-White Oak) is a former Navy-owned and-operated laboratory for naval surface warfare research. It is located approximately 5 miles north of Washington, D.C., off New Hampshire Avenue in Silver Spring, Maryland. The former NSWC-White Oak covers approximately 712 acres and is located in both Prince George's and Montgomery Counties. Of this total area, approximately 617 acres, or 87 percent, is within Montgomery County. The former NSWC-White Oak is bordered by the U.S. Army's Adelphi Laboratory Center and the U.S. Naval Reserve Training Center along with a mixture of residential, park, industrial, and commercial properties. The facility lies in an area of gently rolling hills. The stream, Paint Branch and its tributaries dominate the local drainage patterns.

The former NSWC WO operated as a principle weapons research and development laboratory from the mid 1940s through 1997, when naval operations ceased. The former facility encompasses approximately 800 acres of land within a mixed residential-commercial setting. Impacts to environmental media at White Oak are attributed to poor on-site contaminant disposal practices throughout the operational years of the facility. Investigations and assessments have been ongoing since the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act was passed in 1980. Clean-up response initiatives and redevelopment prioritization escalated when the facility was selected for closure under the 1995 BRAC round. Past environmental assessments have identified several areas that likely require remedial action. One of these areas is the 'Pistol Range Landfill.' Deriving its name from a small arms range, the Site 3 landfill was an unlined one-acre disposal area that received mixed wastes from the late 1940s to the mid 1970s. The wedge shaped landfill was formed into a plateau at its peak, with steep slopes abutting abruptly at the terminal ends of the fill adjacent to an unnamed tributary to the Paint Branch Creek.

In July 1995, the BRAC Commission recommended closure of White Oak Naval Surface Warfare Center. Functions performed at White Oak were absorbed by Panama City Coastal Systems Station and Carderock's Indian Head and Dahlgren Divisions. The facility closed permanently in July 1997. The General Services Administration (GSA) and the Local Redevelopment Authority developed a land reuse plan. The former Navy base was turned over to the General Services Administration (GSA) on 17 October 1997.

The General Services Administration planned for the reuse and development of the transferred former NSWC-White Oak property and named the facility the Federal Research Center at White Oak. The Food and Drug Administration and other Federal agencies have been identified as potential tenants. Congress charged the GSA to plan for a consolidation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in a newly designed and constructed state-of-the-art facility at the site in White Oak. The planned development of the new FDA facility will consist of 14 interconnected buildings forming a campus-like setting and will replace existing fragmented facilities. The Food and Drug Administration will broke ground for the construction of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research in September 2000. Plans for a larger Food and Drug Administration campus were developed. The golf course is open and is part of the General Services Administration development plan. The remaining 48 acres in the southeastern portion of the facility were transferred to the U.S. Army in February 1998. This transferred property is used in conjunction with ongoing activities at the Adelphi Laboratory Center.

The former NSWC-White Oak was originally established in 1944 as the Naval Ordnance Laboratory. Its mission was to conduct research on military guns and explosives. Throughout the years, the mission was expanded to include research involving torpedoes, mines, and projectiles. The White Oak facility in Maryland received two German wind tunnels after World War II. In July 1945, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff awarded custody of Tunnels 1 and 2 to the US Navy. They were then passed from the Chief of Naval Operations to the Bureau of Ordnance and then to the Naval Ordnance Laboratory. The tunnels helped initiate a fledgling U.S. supersonic research program. Tunnel 1 (T-1) is still located at the Tunnel 9 complex and was used as a calibration lab up until 1995.

The White Oak wind tunnel complex has gone through many changes since World War II including the addition of tunnels 3, 4, 6, 7 8 and 8A, which were all eventually replaced. In the 60s and 70s, the Navy felt there was a need to develop hypersonics to support the re-entry phase of their Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile Program. When a re-entry body carrying a nuclear warhead, for example, is coming in from space, it is moving at 25,000 feet per second. So they developed Tunnel 9 to mature these re-entry systems.

In 1974, the Naval Ordnance Laboratory (NOL) at White Oak, Maryland was merged with Dahlgren's Naval Weapons Laboratory (NWL) to form the Naval Surface Weapons Center. The merging of these human resources, facilities, and research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) enhanced the programs and services to the Fleet while preserving a longstanding tradition of excellence.

Tunnel 9 was originally planned for closure with the rest of the Navy Base at White Oak, Md., as a result of the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure Act (BRAC). Through a coordinated effort between the Navy and the Air Force under direction of the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Tunnel 9 facility was saved and will continue to operate as a remote site extension of AEDC.

The Hypervelocity Wind Tunnel 9 Facility provides aerodynamic simulation in critical altitude regimes associated with strategic offensive missile systems, advanced defensive interceptor systems, reentry vehicles, and hypersonic vehicle technologies. Tunnel 9 is a blow down type facility with operational Mach numbers of 7, 8, 10, 14, and 16.5. This facility utilizes a unique storage heater which provides supply pressures up to 1430 atmospheres and supply temperatures up to 3460 degrees Rankine and sustains long-duration, constant-condition runs.

Tunnel 9 contains two test legs to accommodate the multiple testing capabilities available at the facility. Each leg contains a test cell which is five feet in diameter and over twelve feet in length. These test cells can accommodate full-scale reentry bodies, full-scale endo-interceptors, and large-scale aerospace vehicles and hypersonic inlet models.

With nominal test times up to 15 seconds, Tunnel 9 provides high test productivity by allowing parametric variations (such as angle-of-attack sweeps, control jet operations, window cooling operations, and/or flow surveys) on heavily instrumented models during a single run.

The combination of constant test conditions, long test times, and large test cells at Tunnel 9 provides a meaningful, productive, and cost-effective test environment for aerodynamic, aerothermal, aerostructural, aero-optic, shroud removal, and hypersonic inlet experiments unavailable anywhere else.

In 1995, Tunnel 9 employees conceived an idea for aero optical testing based on the Wavefront Sensor, a newly developed technology borrowed from the space telescope community. The following year, the BMDO funded an aero optic instrumentation development program for the recently upgraded Mach 7 flight duplication leg at Tunnel 9.

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