In April, aircraft and personnel assigned to both the U.S. 134th Fighter Squadron and 158th Maintenance Group headed to RAF Lakenheath to perform tests alongside their personnel from the F-35 Joint Program Office and members of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory.
Tests and evaluations were conducted to collect acoustic and bioenvironmental data in protective aircraft shelters specific to the F-35A Lightning II.
Image shows an F-35A Lightning II assigned to the 158th Fighter Wing Air, Vermont National Guard, stands static inside a protective aircraft shelter prior to the start of an acoustic and emission test at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, May 4, 2021. Prior to testing, acoustic sensors are affixed to the skin of the aircraft in structurally critical locations where acoustic pressure levels cannot be exceeded. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jessi Monte)
Aircraft were run for two days in different shelters, while the rest of the two-week visit involved equipment set-up and test calibration.
“Given the fact that the engines, sound and thrust profile are very different between airframes, this test was necessary to determine the parameters of safe shelter operation,” said Tech. Sgt. Galen Topper, an F-35 maintainer assigned to the 158th Maintenance Group.
“We set out to find out at which location in the shelter the aircraft could run without exceeding the safe limits for noise, dangerous gas and engine exhaust. The shelters we tested have been in place at Lakenheath since late in the Cold War and have sheltered many aircraft, the most recent of which being the F-15.”
Tests were completed using sensitive microphones and sensors on and around the F-35As to obtain accurate noise level measurements. Air quality sampling equipment was also positioned around the concrete shelter and in the cockpit.
According to Topper, all test data was safely collected with no incidents.