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3-D imaging to help A-10 integrate latest weapons

by Staff Sgt. Stacia Zachary
96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/20/2008 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFPN) -- The A-10C Thunderbolt II is undergoing state-of-the-art 3-D measurement here through June 20 to help the close-air support aircraft carry the latest in smart weapons technology.

The 46th Test Wing's Air Force Seek Eagle Office, Computerized Physical Fit team is collecting approximately 100,000 3-D 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 wing's 40th Flight Test Squadron.

The team is using its visibility size and shape targeting accuracy room scale, or V-STARS, photogrammetry system of triangulation to collect data 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.

Engineering analyses on the A-10 was done with 2-D drawing and extensive ground and flight testing during the '70s, said Mark Hillman, the AFSEO lead engineer.

"Today, 3-D models are created as aircraft are being designed," Mr. Hillman said. "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. This is just one more step in integrating an old but viable, combat-proven machine with the most current technology available," said Paul Collins, the computerized physical fit team lead.

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

"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."

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