As the Typhoon aircraft is constantly upgraded, changes have to be tested to make sure they can endure the electrical currents and frequencies it may encounter in the battlefield.
This testing is conducted outside on a strip of land referred to as ‘Sunset Strip’ on the South side of our site at Warton Airfield. Despite the warm feeling ‘Sunset strip’ might give you, most days it’s wet and windy, which has its drawbacks. Not least for the aircraft.
To conduct the testing the engine power needs to be on with all the systems operating. Many of those systems require the use of Ground Support Equipment (GSE) to operate safely on the ground. One of those systems is the Defensive Aids Sub System (DASS) which needs power to provide the necessary cooling.
The DASS cooling rigs are designed for use in the hangar. They can operate outside but only in good weather. As you might imagine, that’s a limiting factor at Warton and can cause substantial delays to testing.
A waterproof structure also provides protection to any sensitive equipment that is connected to the wing tip pods. The enclosure also has to be non-metallic due to the nature of electromagnetic testing. When someone suggested an inflatable bouncy castle, the rest of the team jumped on the idea and soon two tents, originally intended as portable garages for 4x4 vehicles, were purchased.
The inflatable shelters now allow the team to perform DASS testing outside in all weather conditions, helping to ensure that the test programme remains firmly on track.