by Deidre Ortiz
Arnold Engineering Development Complex Public Affairs
8/25/2014 - ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- A
highly successful integrated aerodynamic and aerothermal test and
analysis of a twin scramjet-powered hypersonic cruise vehicle was
completed in the Arnold Engineering Development Complex Hypervelocity
Wind Tunnel 9 facility in White Oak, Md.
Researchers and engineers from AEDC and the U.S. Air Force Research
Laboratory conducted the testing at Tunnel 9 as part of a scientific
research effort program called Hypersonic International Flight
Experimentation, or HIFEX.
HIFEX is a joint effort of AFRL and the German Aerospace Centre, or DLR,
to advance the maturity of enabling technologies for the realization of
a next-generation hypersonic aerospace system.
Douglas Dolvin, AFRL program manager of HIFEX, said the vehicle design
tested in Tunnel 9 was unique because it was one that "had never been
As part of the HIFEX test, the effects of engine unstart on stability
and aerodynamic heating of a complex hypersonic vehicle design were
evaluated during the wind tunnel test prior to flight experimentation.
The HIFEX program was created to advance the maturity of technologies
deemed enabling to the realization of a next-generation hypersonic
aerospace systems. The program's goal was to investigate fundamental
hypersonic phenomena and characterize the effectiveness of key
technologies in a relevant hypersonic environment.
Dolvin explained hypersonic aerospace systems may enable a full spectrum
aerospace force with the capability to perform seamless operations that
transcend the continuum of air and space domains. Transformational
missions currently envisioned include prompt call up and global reach,
responsive precision strike and flexible maneuver through anti-access
aerial denied regions.
"The research efforts also seek to advance the state-of-the-art in
measurements and diagnostic instrumentation," he said. "This has
culminated with the [recent] aerodynamic testing of the twin scramjet
powered hypersonic cruise vehicle in the Tunnel 9 facility."
AEDC staff was commended for playing an integral role in the testing process, from beginning to end.
"The scientific and test communities worked hand-in-glove like a highly
synchronized team," Dolvin said. "The AEDC test component was fully
engaged with our HIFEX science component from the early conceptual level
definition of the flight vehicle configuration through the development
and test of the research model.
"The test director communicated often and effectively with AFRL's
principal investigator. Together they formulated a test manifest which
was comprehensive enough to capture the most critical aerodynamic
phenomena yet responsive to constraints on time and costs."
Dolvin added AEDC's team provided critical support, especially whenever challenges arose.
"They were receptive to inputs from our scientific leads and responsive
of the concerns of our on-site representatives," he said. "The knowledge
base and experience of the AEDC team was extensive and evident. The
high quality optical instruments and the measurements technologies
employed, including extensive use of temperature sensitive paints,
proved to be instrumental in capturing unsteady aerodynamic phenomena
that have never been characterized before and formulating an
understanding of complex interactions."
AEDC Commander Col. Raymond Toth received a letter of appreciation from
leadership with the AFRL High Speed Systems Division, thanking test
engineers Joseph Coblish, U.S. Air Force, and Inna Kurits, with
Aerospace Testing Alliance, for their assistance and dedication during
the Tunnel 9 test.
"Bottom line is the HIFEX test experience at AEDC White Oak was
exceptional," Dolvin said. "The AEDC [Tunnel 9] team has a lot to be
proud of out there and I consider myself to be truly blessed to be able
to tap into an asset of such significant value to the nation."
John Lafferty, technical director for Tunnel 9, stated he too is pleased
with how AEDC and AFRL teams worked together in completing this test
and expects the partnership will lead to the success of future tests.
"The collaboration between AFRL and Tunnel 9 is a two-way street," he
said. "Becoming aware of the issues and testing needs related to
scramjet vehicle testing has allowed us to advance our measurements for
this and future tests of its kind. Hopefully this collaboration will
In addition to HIFEX, AEDC has partnered with AFRL to identify, develop
and execute several advanced technology programs, such as the Assymetric
Scramjet Engine Test and Hypersonic International Flight Research
Experimentation programs. AEDC will also be continuing its hypersonic
research and test future with AFRL through its hypersonic branch now on
site at AEDC.