Missile Engagement Simulation Arena (MESA), Naval
Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake

MESA cutaway view
All images on this page courtesy US Navy

From the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake website:

"The Dr. Jon A. Wunderlich Laboratory, the Missile Engagement Simulation Arena (MESA), supports existing and new weapon systems development. It is designed specifically to simulate the terminal engagement of a guided missile fuze with a target.

"The high-bay simulation arena is 150 feet wide, 405 feet long and 90 feet high. The facility accommodates actual airframes, allowing precise motion/position control of fuze and target. No other facility in the world has this combination of precision and the ability to use full-size targets.

"Through a combination of innovative simulation technology and facility, the Wunderlich Laboratory offers costeffective, timely and accurate data on missile/target engagements. Among the uses of the multimillion dollar facility are: evaluation of missile lethality, evaluation of air-vehicle survivability, accurate measurements of sensor properties and development of new anti-air weapons to meet new threats. While the lab is owned and operated by the Navy, customers include all branches of the U.S. military and possibly allied military forces. The size of the facility allows China Lake to test full size targets and fuzes. The new lab has the capability to use targets up to 25,000 pounds."

The Howland Company led the conceptual design study team that established the functional performance criteria for the large range and defined many of the unique building materials used in the construction based on radar reflectivity tests we conducted. We also helped prepare the 35% design submittal and participated in the preparation of the final plans and specifications.

The Howland Company was also given the task of preparing the design specification for the overhead target support system and three-axis sensor (test device) transporter, not a simple task given the number of full scale missiles and aircraft that must be supported.

On the web:

MESA chamber - target and sensor positioners & transporters
MESA: F-4 Suspended from Target
Positioner, F-18 in Background.
MESA chamber - target and sensor positioners & transporters
The view from the control room workstation.
MESA - F-4, MiG23
Full-size targets: F-4 suspended,
MiG-23 in backgound.
MiG-23 in a MESA test--the missile sensor (foreground) homes in on the target while engineers monitor its performance.
  MESA sensor transporter
The end of the endgame: a missile seeker
mounted on the sensor positioner/
transporter closing in on a MiG 23.
  F-4 suspended from target positioner, sensor
positioner/transporter in foreground.