by Jenny Gordon
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
8/25/2015 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The
C-5 System Integration Lab here has been prepping to accommodate
upcoming changes to the weapon system's color weather radar capabilities
for the last several months.
Full-scale development is now underway by Lockheed Martin Corp. to
update to a new version of the color weather radar, as well as its core
mission computer, which is the heart of mission planning while a C-5 is
in flight. It allows the crew to see where danger spots such as
thunderstorms, tornadoes and high winds are.
The C-5 Galaxy's current robust testing environment at Robins includes a
facility that uses a salvaged cockpit section from a C-5 which crashed
at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, in 2006.
The existing flight deck allows 578th Software Maintenance Squadron
electronics engineers, technicians and computer scientists the ability
to simulate and test software, perform pre-flight tests and eliminate
issues before it is used on live aircraft.
"If we can eliminate issues through testing in the SIL, we don't tie up
people and resources down the line," said Robert Hermann, 578 SMXS
But in order to accommodate the pending workload associated with the new
color weather radar, several hardware modifications to the existing lab
had to be worked.
That included designing, fabricating and installing an electronics
cabinet/enclosure; fabricating and installing cables from the lab's
cockpit to the cabinet/enclosure; and, designing an antenna fixture and
pedestal that allows for proper antenna rotation during testing.
An air conditioning and heating unit that maintains temperature and
humidity inside the enclosure was also installed. Along with the color
weather radar's receiver/transmitter, the enclosure, located on the
building's roof, will support the antenna fixture/pedestal assembly and
That radome, which took about a week and a half to fabricate, simulates
the functionality of an actual C-5 nose radome. The radome's shape was
formed using a wood mold, sealed with joint compound, covered and
sanded, painted and applied with fiberglass epoxy.
The radome was designed and built in-house by a team led by Chris
Causey, C-5 SIL tech lead, along with electronics engineers Andy Adams,
John Crutchfield, Brandy Herrmann, Tony Kirksey, David Ogden and Emile
Sumner, and computer scientist Todd Morris. Also assisting was painter
Jason Blount with the 402nd Maintenance Support Group.
Engineering and manufacturing development testing of the color weather radar is scheduled to begin here in mid-November.
A team got together in advance of testing to build the radome here which will ensure the C-5 SIL will be ready by the fall.
Eliminating the major constraint of building the radome at Robins
demonstrated taking initiative and applying ingenuity to provide a
solution which is part of key concepts outlined in the Air Force
Sustainment Center's Art of the Possible.
The AoP "creates a culture that is focused daily on identifying and
urgently eliminating process constraints affecting the process critical
path during execution."
Once complete, the C-5 SIL will have the capability to receive live data
from the antenna, picking up weather patterns that can be transmitted
back to engineers working inside the C-5 simulator.
"We had to design and implement this modification to the SIL so that the
radar would function just as it does in a fielded C-5 aircraft," said
Warner Paris, 578 SMXS Flight B director, who oversees the C-5 SIL. "For
high fidelity testing capabilities, we want to simulate the aircraft
and its environment."
Advantages over the older weather radar include the addition of
windshear and turbulence detection, a digital output signal that will
reduce electronics required to interface with digital displays and
equipment, a lower power pulse with comparable range and mitigation of
obsolescence, supportability and sustainment issues.
"The new color weather radar is a functional upgrade over the old radar,
detecting more weather feature details," said Paris. "It will have
additional capabilities but with less drain on the aircraft, less power
but with a comparable range due to the technology in use."
Designed to support sustainment of the C-5, the SIL can perform
independent verification and validation testing of operational flight
Miles of cables and wiring that run from the lab's ground floor to the
roof are part of the bench that supports two configurations of the C-5
in the field: the Avionics Modernization Program , AMP, and the C-5M
Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program, or RERP.
Through these capabilities, actual on-board systems in the SIL flight
deck work in conjunction with simulations for other systems that exist
on the actual aircraft, as well as conditions that exist within and
external to the aircraft.
That is, simulating systems that are not present, such as engines,
landing gear, control surfaces and fuel; simulating external conditions
such as wind, temperature, barometric pressure and air traffic; and
simulating aircraft conditions and responses such as cabin