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VX-31 Range Support Aircraft

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t-39 aircrew

A diverse military and civilian aircrew prepare for the launch of a T-39D test mission from the China Lake airfield. (Source: Micheal McGinnis)

T-39D nose-mounted seeker array

A PLO engineer prepares a typical T-39D nose-mounted seeker array for testing at China Lake. (Source: Micheal McGinnis)

VX31 Saberliner

The VX31 Saberliner airborne test bed awaits its aircrew on the tarmac outside Hangar 3 at China Lake.

T-39 Sabreliner

The T-39 Sabreliner, built by North American Aviation Inc., is a low-wing, twin-jet aircraft. The cockpit and cabin compartments are pressurized and sound proofed for high altitude flight. Two Pratt and Whitney J60 gas turbine engines, located on each side of the aft fuselage, supply power. The rated sea level static thrust of each engine is 3,000 lbs at military power.

The T-39 is a quick-maneuvering and versatile aircraft for captive flight-testing. It is ideal for evaluating various test articles including seekers, fuzes and radar systems. Four project personnel may be present onboard for data gathering and system evaluation. The Project Liason Branch (PLO), Code 51J50MD develops, maintains, and operates modifications to the T-39 aircraft test bed for captive flight testing.

The T-39 aircraft is configured with a mounting rack in the radome area that will adapt to many types of seeker, fuze or radar systems. The mounting rack is currently cleared to carry a 160 lb. test article with a center of gravity 35.8 inches forward of the fuselage station 50 bulkhead. Three cameras can be mounted to this rack to provide a forward, 45° down and 45° port field of vision. Test articles up to 14 inches in diameter can be accommodated. There is one altered radome readily available, and another radome that can be altered to accommodate another modified configuration. The aft cabin of the aircraft can be arranged to fit 330 pounds of instrumentation on racks that covers 57,000 cubic inches of space while carrying 4 passengers and 2 pilots.

The available power of the test bed includes Three Phase Aircraft Power (115VAC, 10KVA, 400Hz), 1 kW Inverter (115VAC, 8.5A, 60 Hz), 3.5 kW Converter (120VAC, 29.16A, 60 Hz) and 28 VDC (50A). Pre-routed wires from the aft cabin area to the radome include: DC Power Cables, Digital Data Cables, Digital/Analog Data lines, and an AC Power Cable. Additional pre-routed cables include an Aircraft Audio Cable, DC Power Cable and AC Power Cables.


Last Update 06-Sep-2013 9:55