The period of time that passes between when the IAF begins adjusting a new bomb and when it actually becomes operational lasts at least a number of years
In order to ensure that the munitions do not disintegrate during flight, the soldiers perform strength analyses and ground tests
This week marks 58 years since an F-11 jet intercepted itself during a test flight This week marks 58 years since an F-11 jet intercepted itself during a test flight. At the IAF’s Munitions Adjustment Center, the soldiers use complex analysis and wind tunnels in order to ensure that a similar situation never occurs in the IAF
On September 21st, 1956, almost exactly 58 years ago, an F-11 jet set a rather bizarre record when it became the first jet to shoot itself down.
During a test flight above the Atlantic Ocean, the jet fired around 70 rounds of a 20mm cannon at an altitude of 13,000 feet. Immediately thereafter, the pilot dove to 7,000 feet to shoot again and then he was hit by three of his own rounds as he crossed their path.
In order to avoid similar scenarios from occurring in the IAF, the soldiers of the Munitions Adjustment Center at the Equipment Department, work to ensure that the munitions that are in use in the IAF are reliable, safe for use and that will withstand flight conditions. “Naturally, when thousands of kilos of explosives are hung on a jet it is a very delicate situation that entails many risks”, says Captain Idan, Head of the Munitions Adjustment Department.
Among the risk factors, there is the possibility that the bomb might disintegrate during a flight as a result of the weather and the shaking the jet fuselage and wings, that the bomb will damage the jet after being loaded onto it, or that the bomb will damage the other bombs loaded on the hard points.
From the Ground To the Air
In order to ensure that the process of loading the bomb goes smoothly during the test flight, there is a series of ground inspections. “The first step is the tunnel test”, explains Captain Idan. The test involves a wind tunnel in which a smaller model of the jet is placed accompanied by the intended munitions. Air is pumped into the tunnel at speeds and pressures that simulate flight conditions, as a robotic arm moves the munitions the way the munitions would move in the air. “It’s a very complex and precise program that requires many processors to enable its activities, as each inspection lasts around a week”, explains Captain Idan. The goal of the analysis and the tunnel test is to ascertain the response of the munitions in every possible scenario-based on altitude, flight speed and angle at which the munitions are loaded.
Only after these steps have been taken, do the soldiers start the robotic flight tests. These tests are held at the Test Flight Center squadron, where real munitions are used.
In order to ensure that the munitions do not disintegrate during flight, the soldiers perform strength analyses and ground tests depending on the specific flight scenario of the test. In addition to the Munitions Adjustment Department, representatives of the military industry, other officers in the Equipment Department and Test Flight Center and others are involved in every project.
The period of time that passes between when the IAF begins adjusting a new bomb and when it actually becomes operational, after test flights at the Test Flight Center, changes based on the size of the project, but lasts at least a number of years. During Operation “Protective Edge”, the workers had to expedite the process by a few months in order to be able to enter new munitions that were designed to be operational only in 2015 into use during the operation.