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The RASCAL Pod

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posted on Jul, 16 2016 @ 09:13 PM
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The Air Force has revealed an interesting new way to test systems for aircraft. They have converted three damaged or modified SUU-20 rocket pods that couldn't be returned to service, and modified them into the Reconfigurable Airborne Sensor, Communication and Laser, or RASCAL pod. Instead of installing the new system on the aircraft, which can take months, or even years in some cases, the new systems are installed into the RASCAL pod, which is then mounted on the aircraft, currently an F-16, although eventually it will be expanded to an F-15 or T-38C after they get their centerline hard point upgrade.

One example they gave was a new system for the Strategic Capabilities Office. They had five weeks to perform the test, which wasn't anywhere near enough time to get approval, design the changes, and then work them onto the aircraft. They were able to fly the mission using the RASCAL pod. One interesting test they have going on with the pod is an alternate navigation system, where the aircraft will look up and take star shots, while simultaneously looking at the ground, looking for landmarks similar to Google Earth.


Innovation is the introduction of something new, an improved product or method. One innovation that’s not necessarily new but continues to demonstrate innovation is the RASCAL pod program at the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School here.

Conceived in 2006, The Reconfigurable Airborne Sensor, Communication and Laser - or RASCAL - pod provides a means of easily installing new instruments and technologies on board aircraft for flight testing.

According to Dan Carroll, program manager for the RASCAL pod, installing the test hardware in the pod, rather than into an aircraft, saves time and money.

“The pod has a tremendous impact on time,” Carroll said. “With current cutting edge technology, flight test equipment needs to be integrated, calibrated, and tested at the sub-system level. This can take weeks or months. We can’t always afford to take an aircraft off the line that long.”

With the RASCAL pod, the integration and calibration is done in the laboratory, then the pod is mounted on an aircraft for the flight tests. Since the aircraft no longer needs to be modified, it is available for other missions.

The pods are also useful for more short-notice projects. One example he cited was a project addition proposed by a customer, the Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO), with just five weeks’ notice before a scheduled flight test. “There is no way to accomplish the approval, design and installation on an Air Force aircraft in that time frame,” Carroll said. “With the pod, it was easily done.”

www.edwards.af.mil...




posted on Jul, 16 2016 @ 09:32 PM
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a reply to: Zaphod58

Woohooo!!!



posted on Jul, 16 2016 @ 10:25 PM
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Very cool. Saving time and money testing is always a good thing.



posted on Jul, 16 2016 @ 11:08 PM
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Are sure the Talons are going to be getting that airframe upgrade?

I thought they were to be replaced soon.

They might hold off.



posted on Jul, 16 2016 @ 11:15 PM
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a reply to: Tempter

They're all undergoing upgrades starting earlier this year. The first Pacer Classic III upgrade was finished last summer, and they're undergoing a digital upgrade to the cockpit starting this year.

The T-X won't even drop the RFP until the end of this year. They won't see IOC until at least 2023, and FOC won't be until the 2030s, which means the Talons will be flying until at least the late 2020s, if not until they hit FOC with the new trainer.
edit on 7/16/2016 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 17 2016 @ 12:52 AM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: Tempter

They're all undergoing upgrades starting earlier this year. The first Pacer Classic III upgrade was finished last summer, and they're undergoing a digital upgrade to the cockpit starting this year.

The T-X won't even drop the RFP until the end of this year. They won't see IOC until at least 2023, and FOC won't be until the 2030s, which means the Talons will be flying until at least the late 2020s, if not until they hit FOC with the new trainer.


Wow, it sounds like you know a lot.

So the main benefit is allowing not just the Rascal platform quick deployment, but also the rapid deployment of any system they could cram into one, right? (read:pod)
edit on 17-7-2016 by Tempter because: Clarification



posted on Jul, 17 2016 @ 12:54 AM
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a reply to: Tempter

Theoretically. There are only three of them though, so they'd only be used for testing.



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