U.S. Navy Creates System to Test Sonobuoys from KC-130T Hercules Aircraft

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Naval Forces News - USA
 
 
 
U.S. Navy Creates System to Test Sonobuoys from KC-130T Hercules Aircraft
 
U.S. Navy engineers, technicians and others from three Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) laboratories and the Anti-submarine Warfare Systems program office (PMA-264) rapidly developed a new sonobuoy launching system in the summer and fall of 2015 and completed delivery in late November.
     
Ground support crew load a new launch system for testing sonobuoys onto a KC-130T aircraft at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, July 1. Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division laboratories and the Anti-submarine Warfare Systems program office (PMA-264) developed the system to test sonobuoy performance and reliability before delivery to the fleet. (U.S. Navy photo)
Ground support crew load a new launch system for testing sonobuoys onto a KC-130T aircraft at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, July 1. Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division laboratories and the Anti-submarine Warfare Systems program office (PMA-264) developed the system to test sonobuoy performance and reliability before delivery to the fleet. (U.S. Navy photo)
     
The new system, an adaptation of two SH-60B helicopter sonobuoy launchers into a forklift-suitable, pallet-mounted roll-on, roll-off system for KC-130T tanker aircraft, was needed because the existing testing aircraft were being retired.

“We brainstormed and came up with the idea of putting two SH-60B launchers on a pallet to roll on and off from a C-130,” said sonobuoy test support engineer Ansel Toutsch with PMA-264. “The C-130 was a perfect choice because the squadron that had been performing the tests using their soon-to-be retired S-3s also flew C-130s. Plus, we hope this may spawn ideas for other uses with other platforms.”
     
Two KC-130T Hercules aircrafts flown by the Air Combat Element of Black Sea Rotational Force 11, perform a “section overhead break". Photo by Cpl. Tatum Vayavananda
Two KC-130T Hercules aircrafts flown by the Air Combat Element of Black Sea Rotational Force 11, perform a “section overhead break". Photo by Cpl. Tatum Vayavananda
     
Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 30 with Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division’s (NAWCWD) Naval Test Wing Pacific performs the testing, and NAWCWD collaborated in developing this innovative solution. In October 2015, VX-30 retired the S-3B Viking aircraft it had been using to test sonobuoys, transitioning to the KC-130T.

“As lead designer, the NAWCAD Engineering and Prototyping Facility (AD 4.11.5.1) worked collaboratively with Air Vehicle Stores Compatibility (AD 5.1.6.7), the Stores Compatibility Support Labs (AD 5.1.6.8) and PMA-264 to identify requirements and generate a design that could be efficiently fabricated and assembled to support cost and schedule constraints,” said Joe Bailey, NAWCAD Rapid Capabilities Engineering and Integration Department (AD 4.11). “We also developed the airworthiness certification package while 5.1.6.8 fabricated the parts, assembled the systems and delivered them for wiring and testing.”

Air Vehicle Stores Compatibility engineers then planned and conducted the successful ground and flight testing.

“The team has been ecstatic at the end result and the timeframe that we were able to receive the final end product,” said Ken Sherman, PMA-264 deputy integrated program team lead for sonobuoy production. “There has been great cooperation between the representatives of PMA-264, the Air Vehicle Stores Compatibility Support Labs, and the Engineering and Prototyping Facility in providing the new launcher system within the desired timeline.”

In total, the team produced three launching systems for VX-30. Fit checks took place in August, and the final system was delivered Nov. 23, ahead of schedule.
 

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