The United States Air Force selected a Bechtel-led team to assume the Test Operations and Sustainment contract at the Arnold Engineering Development Complex (AEDC). AEDC, the most advanced and largest complex of flight simulation test facilities in the world, includes facilities at the Arnold Air Force Base near Tullahoma, Tennessee, in Maryland, and in California.
The role of Bechtel-led National Aerospace Solutions (NAS) is to help the Air Force implement changes needed to improve AEDC operations far into the future without impacting the missions of today.
AEDC performs work for the Department of Defense, Army, Navy and Air Force; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); both domestic and foreign private industry; allied foreign governments and educational institutions.
National Aerospace Solutions, LLC is a team consisting of Bechtel National Inc., Sierra Lobo Inc., and GP Strategies Corporation. Teaming Subcontractors are nLogic Inc. and Chugach Federal Solutions Inc.
All photos courtesy of the United States Air Force
Specialized and unique capabilities
The team at AEDC operates 28 aerodynamic and propulsion wind tunnels, rocket and turbine engine test cells, space environmental chambers, arc heaters, ballistic ranges and other specialized units.
Facilities can simulate flight conditions from sea level to 300 miles and from subsonic velocities to Mach 20.
AEDC has a rich history of aerospace testing and a wealth of experience. Our goal is to build on the experience of the workforce and dedication to take the Complex to the next level of performance. –Brian Sheridan, chairman of the Board of Managers of National Aerospace Solutions, LLC and senior Bechtel executive.
Work at AEDC includes:
- Testing and evaluating aircraft, missile, and space systems and subsystems at the flight conditions they will experience during a mission so that customers can develop and qualify the systems for flight, improve system designs and establish performance before production, and help users troubleshoot problems with operational systems.
- A research and technology program to develop advanced testing techniques and instrumentation and to support the design of new test facilities. The continual improvement helps keep pace with rapidly advancing aircraft, missile and space system requirements.
- The center’s existing test facilities are maintained and modernized.
Under the Test Operations and Sustainment contract, work NAS will perform includes:
- Operation of 28 wind tunnels
- Rocket and turbine engine test cells
- Ballistic ranges
- Space chambers
- Specialized testing units
- Technology development
- Equipment and facility sustainment
- Capital improvements to the sites
- Other services for the Complex
The Complex has played a role in testing nearly all of the United States’ top priority aerospace programs, from fighter jets and missiles to Apollo rockets and weather satellites.
Sea Level Test Cells
The Sea-Level Test Cells at AEDC provide the capability to conduct durability testing on large turbine engines at near sea-level conditions (1,000 ft altitude) and are used to develop and evaluate systems for advanced aircraft such as the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and the F119 engine for the F-22A Raptor.
These test cells provide essential test and evaluation services in support of DoD, U.S. industry, and international programs.
Caption: Pratt & Whitney's F100-PW-220 engine after completing a 15-month accelerated mission test in Sea Level Test Cell 3.