USAF begins HERO testing of B-52 Stratofortress

The US Air Force (USAF) has started testing a B-52 Stratofortress, in order to comply with a recent mandate from the Air Force Safety Office.

The mandate requires all air force weapons platforms to conduct electromagnetic environmental effects evaluations, the USAF said in a statement.

The bomber aircraft is from the 96th Bomb Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base (AFB), Louisiana, and the test was requested by the B-52 Program Office at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, US.

The hazards of electromagnetic radiation to ordnance (HERO) testing is being carried out in the Benefield Anechoic Facility (BAF) at Edwards AFB in California, US.

The BAF anechoic chamber has been designed to fit any airplane inside and provides a free space to facilitate electronic warfare tests without radio frequency interference from the outside world.

772nd Test Squadron, which oversees BAF operations, project lead engineer Hannah Dahlgren said: “The advantage of using the BAF chamber allows for more sensitive measurements with low-background noise levels, as compared to testing on the flightline where there are numerous interfering radio frequency sources.”

The HERO tests are conducted on ordnance and other devices that contain electro–explosive devices to prevent the susceptibility of ordnance to radiated or conducted electromagnetic energy.

"The advantage of using the BAF chamber allows for more sensitive measurements with low-background noise levels."

These tests classify the ordnance's susceptibility to electromagnetic radiation as HERO Safe, HERO Susceptible, or HERO Unsafe.

Built by Boeing, the B-52 is a long-range, heavy bomber that has been designed to perform strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, offensive counter-air and maritime operations.

The aircraft can be equipped with two electro-optical viewing sensors, a forward-looking infrared and advanced targeting pods to further improve its combat ability.

Image: A B-52 Stratofortress is backed into the Benefield Anechoic Facility at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Photo: courtesy of US Air Force photo / Ethan Wagner.