Advanced Systems Integration Lab (ASIL),
Naval Air Warfare Center
Aircraft Division, Patuxent River MD

 
Advanced System Integration Lab, NAWC Patuxent River

The Advanced Systems Integration Lab (ASIL) is located at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Maryland. ASIL is a quiet, isolated, flexible test facility that accommodates sensor testing for Electronic Warfare, Communications/Navigation, and a wide range of other electronic systems.

 

The Howland Company led the concept design study, developed the RF shielding and anechoic specifications, and administered the construction-phase shielding and anechoic QA/QC programs.

     
ASIL-Modular RF Absorber Panels
Technicians from ATEC Industries installing the modular RF
absorber panels; the welded steel RF shield is visible
on the left, behind the RF absorber framing.
  ASIL-RF shield testing
Ray Howland (right) supervising final VSWR testing
of the installed modular RF absorber panels.
     

The RAM tip-to-tip dimensions of the ASIL anechoic chamber are 180 ft x 180 ft x 60 ft. (55m x 55m x 18m). The chamber is large enough to accommodate large systems such as the Space Shuttle and aircraft as large as a C-17. Offices and lab space needed to generate the required electromagnetic environment and analyze test results surround the chamber.

Two 40-ton bridge cranes are available for test article support. The chamber floor is designed for even heavier loads. A large test article preparation area is provided between the single-leaf 80 ft x 200 ft shielded anechoic door and the facility's outer hangar doors.

The shielding effectiveness of the chamber has been publicly described to be at least 110 dB from 30 MHz to "over 18 GHz." The return loss of the installed RAM is frequency dependent, but typically over 50 dB.

 

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta inspecting the Advanced Systems Integration Lab during his visit to Patuxent River Naval Air Station
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta with Congressman Steny Hoyer inspecting the Advanced Systems Integration Lab during his January 2012 visit to Patuxent River Naval Air Station -- US Navy photo

     
Some of the many systems tested in ASIL -- E-2D, MH-47G, and P-3C
NASA's Interim Control Module (ICM), developed for the International Space Station from an NRL design, tested in the Advanced Systems Integration Facility at NAVAIR Pax River.

A selection of the many systems that have been evaluated or tested inside ASIL--clockwise from above left: Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, Boeing MH-47G Special Operations Chinook, Lockheed P-3C Orion, Lockheed S-3B Viking, MMIST CQ-10B Snowgoose, EF-18G Growler, Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler, and NASA International Space Station Interim Control Module.

Navy S-3B ASW aircraft undergoing system integration testing in the ASIL at NAVAIR Pax River.
Some of the aircraft used for system testing in ASIL: EA-6B, F-18E, and EF-18G.
  US Navy photos

All RAM is mounted on removable panels to facilitate reconfiguration as required for specific tests. Throughout the entire chamber, the RAM support structure is at least 6 feet inside the chamber's shielded walls and ceiling. This design, together with the removable RAM panel system, permits openings to be made at any point in the RAM -- without penetrating the shield. Full access to all points throughout the chamber means that the unique requirements of a specific test determine emitter and sensor placement. The alternative, found in other large chambers--designing test scenarios around the limitations of the chamber layout--allows far less flexibility and efficiency.

 

Fourteen foot high basement tunnels, also inside the shield envelope, provide space to locate equipment and cabling for access to any area of the chamber floor. Fiberglass walk-on platforms for use during test preparation may be positioned on top of any of the floor RAM pallets.

Access panels through the RF shield permit connection to test and simulation systems installed in lab spaces outside the shield envelope. These systems include the Joint Communications Stimulator (JCS), Generic Radar Target Generator (GRTG), and the Infrared Scene Simulator (IRSS). Aircraft air and hydraulic supplies are also provided.

 


Advanced Systems Integration Facility among other NAVAIR facilities at NAS Patuxent River
 US Navy photos

This official Navy photo of one of the first F-35C aircraft to arrive at Pax River for testing shows ASIL in the heart of NAVAIR's east
coast test complex; to the left of the ASIL is the shielded hangar housing the Aircraft Anechoic Test Facility. Behind and to the right
of ASIL is the water tank for ASIL's fire suppression system, and the 'wall' on the right side of the building is the pocket for
the single-leaf, 100dB RF shielded anechoic chamber door.

 

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