ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, TENN. – An American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) award-winning technical paper, authored by Arnold Engineering Development Complex’s (AEDC) Tom Fetterhoff and Wade Burfitt, represents a significant stepping stone to the future of hypersonic weapons system program development.
The AIAA Hypersonics Program Committee recently selected “Overview of the Advanced Propulsion Test Technology Hypersonic Aero Propulsion Clean Air Testbed (HAPCAT)” as a co-recipient of the Best Hypersonics Program Paper from the 17th AIAA International Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technologies Conference.
Fetterhoff is AEDC Test Division’s technical director and Burfitt is AEDC’s site manager for MIRATEK, Inc. and the deputy executing agent for OSD’s High Speed Systems Test (HSST) program at the Complex.
In 2002, the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), represented by George Rumsford, the manager of OSD’s Test Resource Management Center, had tasked Fetterhoff, Burfitt and their team at AEDC to devise methodologies for ground testing hypersonic flight regime technologies.
Fetterhoff said, “We [at AEDC] should be very proud of the fact that we managed this technology area for OSD and that this, along with some other projects, are world-class, recognized by the Department of Defense as ground-breaking technology advancements.”
Burfitt said the award-winning AIAA technical paper that Fetterhoff and he authored has provided an excellent opportunity to get the word out to the public on the initial tangible payoff from their team’s efforts – a special facility located at ATK GASL (General Applied Science Laboratory) in Ronkonoma, New York.
“Once the clean air, variable Mach number technologies are perfected in the HAPCAT demonstration facility, it is envisioned that similar larger scale capabilities will be built at AEDC to enable much more accurate and thorough test and evaluation of hypersonic weapons systems,” he said. “HAPCAT will be operational in 2016 and will likely be followed by an applicable investment program at AEDC.”
Fetterhoff and Burfitt were unable to attend the award ceremony for their paper, held at the 2012 awards luncheon at the 18th AIAA /3AF International Space Planes and Hypersonic Systems and Technology Conference in Tours, France.
However, Burfitt said he appreciated being acknowledged, but the significance of the award went well beyond two engineers writing a paper.
“The acknowledgement is more tied to the importance the hypersonic community sees in the technologies we are developing rather than the paper in and of itself,” he said. “We received a great deal of interest in the topic while at the conference [held in San Francisco, Calif., in April 2011].”
Fetterhoff said, “I’m proud of the organization we built between the government and the contractor workforce – and their expertise – it’s second to none.”
He emphasized that the work accomplished by the collective team at AEDC will benefit a wide range of customers and the network of commands, including AEDC, which will support the technical requirements for those cutting-edge hypersonic weapons system programs.
“It’s important because most of the investments that they’re making will be transitioned into capabilities we have here,” he said. “We’re talking about a $100 million worth of project-on-contract. That’s a very large investment in advancing technologies aimed at supporting our mission at AEDC or the Air Force Test Center’s mission.”
Regarding the award-winning technical paper, AEDC Chief Technologist Dr. Ed Kraft said, “Tom and Wade have successfully articulated an ongoing collaborative effort that hopefully will position AEDC to provide unique ground test capabilities to the hypersonic weapon systems program community. Their paper sums up how the High Speed Systems Test (HSST) program team at AEDC and HAPCAT will help enable us to meet future test needs.”