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A Northrop Grumman Euro Hawk hangs in the Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards March 10. The unmanned aerial vehicle underwent electromagnetic interference testing to see how it may react to electromagnetic fields in Europe. (Air Force photo by Edward Cannon)
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Euro Hawk enters BAF

Posted 3/30/2011   Updated 3/30/2011 Email story   Print story


by Kenji Thuloweit
95th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/30/2011 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 772nd Test Squadron facilitated electromagnetic interference testing on a Euro Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle at the Benefield Anechoic Facility here March 10 and 11.

Edwards workers teamed with Northrop Grumman Corporation employees and German government representatives to complete the testing.

The Euro Hawk is the brother to the Air Force's operational Global Hawk, and although EMI testing has already been conducted on the Global Hawk, the Euro Hawk has never been flown in the unique radio frequency environment of Europe.

"There are radars and radio stations - our civilization is filled with electromagnetic sources," said Daniel Suh, NGC Euro Hawk System Engineering manager. "In highly populated areas there are more emitters so there's risk associated in flying an unmanned aircraft in those environments."

"The BAF provided some unique testing to reduce that risk."

Because of the BAF's design, it allows testers to evaluate the aircraft's radio emissions and absorptions in an environment that is sanitized of outside radio frequencies. This prevents those sources from interfering and compromising the tests.

Mr. Suh said interference could have an effect on the avionics of any aircraft with electronic equipment. Communications and navigation systems are a few examples of electronic equipment that could potentially face detrimental EMI effects, including failure.

The BAF is capable of simulating different electromagnetic interference and Maj. Corey Beaverson, 772nd TS Operations director, said the test team subjected the Euro Hawk to EMI environments they believe the aircraft will encounter in Europe.

"We know there are certain environments that the Euro Hawk is going to be subjected to across the ocean and while operating in its intended role," said Major Beaverson. "Are those environments going to be safe from an electromagnetic interference and compatibility perspective? Partnering with the Global Vigilance Combined Test Force, Northrop Grumman and our German allies, we've developed a series of tests to see how the aircraft reacts to some known electromagnetic fields."

"What the BAF is doing is providing a clean RF (radio frequency) environment and we are subjecting the Euro Hawk to electric fields at a variety of frequencies that are representative of what we understand the electromagnetic environment to be in Europe," said Major Beaverson.

"We adjusted different frequency ranges," Mr. Suh said. "There are specific frequencies that we look at using the antennas within the BAF, as well as adjusting energy levels."

The Euro Hawk is an unmanned aerial vehicle that has been authorized by the United States for Direct Commercial Sales to allied countries.

Mr. Suh said the German Ministry of Defence specifically wanted the Euro Hawk tested at the BAF because of the facility's unique capabilities.

This is one part of the Euro Hawk's comprehensive testing at Edwards that has been a collaborative effort between the U.S. military, private industry and a foreign ally.

"I think it's a great team," said Mr. Suh. "We rolled into the BAF at the end of January. Previously, we coordinated with the Combined Test Force as well as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, (Ohio), in going through our detailed test plan ... making sure our test objectives were achievable before coming to the BAF. It's been a great experience."

The Euro Hawk has been undergoing flight testing at Edwards since last year and is expected to complete its visit to the high desert during the summer.

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