The F415 is a smaller version of the Taurus missile engine that AEDC tested in 2000. The Williams International F415 engine for the Navy's next generation Tactical Tomahawk cruise missile underwent testing in AEDC Test Cell T-11 in 2001.
The Williams International F415 engine performed flawlessly as the Tactical Tomahawk missile passed a major program hurdle with a successful first flight. Raytheon Company and the U.S. Navy successfully completed the first demonstration test flight (DT-0) of the Raytheon-produced Tactical Tomahawk on 23 August 2002 at a naval test range near Point Mugu, Calif. This first successful test flight of Tactical Tomahawk marks the beginning of a new age of strike warfare technology. The missile followed all throttle commands with many throttle transients during the flight. DT-0 demonstrated all pre-launch and in-flight missile functionality. Launched from a vertical ground launcher, the Tactical Tomahawk successfully met all test objectives.
The AEDC Propulsion Directorate completed high pressure testing of an Ultra Compact Combustor (UCC) developed under a joint program with Williams International in 2003. The goal of the program was to develop and investigate a UCC system that could perform as well or better than a conventional turbine engine combustor system in terms of combustion efficiency, stability, and ignition without sacrificing performance. As part of this program, PR and Williams collaboratively developed a UCC for use in an existing Williams engine system, in this case the F415, which powers the Tomahawk missile.
The UCC turned out to have 69% less volume than the original F415 combustion system. Testing was conducted in PR's High Pressure Combustor Research Facility (HPCRF), and the results show that the UCC performs as well as, or in some cases better than, the F415 combustor in terms of combustion efficiency. The UCC also demonstrated an 89% increase in Lean Blow-Out (LBO) operability compared to the F415 with ignition occurring well below the LBO limits of the original F415 engine system. Further tests will be performed to extend the database as well as to investigate several optimization opportunities, and an engine test is currently being considered for late 2004. This technology could result in a substantial increase in the range and speed of the missile system by reducing specific fuel consumption and decreasing the weight of the engine.
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