By Shelby Daniell
/ Published July 15, 2020
Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Keifer Bowes
Eglin’s tilt and rotary wing test squadron pilots logged their first CV-22 Osprey flight incorporating a terrain following and avoidance radar system called Silent Knight here June 23.
That initial flight using an Air Force Special Operations Command CV-22, crewed by Majors Jon Appleby, 413th Flight Test Squadron, Kevin Burns, 18th Special Operations Test and Evaluation Squadron, and four engineers, focused on the integration of the new radar system with the aircraft’s architecture.
The radar, designed to increase situational awareness in low visibility conditions, will replace the Osprey’s aging multimode radar. The upgrade’s new capabilities and features include a color weather radar and allowance for increased turn rates.
“This capability is vital for the CV-22 mission and one of the most important differentiators between the Air Force model and the other services.” said Capt. Megan Burk, team lead and flight test engineer with the 413th FLTS.
This initial test is the first of many developmental test flights that will span almost two years to ensure the radar’s compatibility with the aircraft and to discover any software issues before its operational use.
“We don’t test systems and turn them over to the user. We work hand in hand with them to field new or improved capabilities,” said Burk.
The Silent Knight upgrade is just one of the developmental tests performed by the 413th FLTS. Osprey sustainment efforts are continuous to include replacement of obsolete components, improving communications capabilities and of course, software.
As with all modern aircraft, the CV-22 system is heavily based in software, which requires constant updating and subsequent testing. Silent Knight is just one example.
The project, in development since 2018, is supported directly by AFSOC units with aircraft maintenance, support and flight personnel.
“They’ve done herculean work taking SKR testing from words on paper to active flight test,” said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Newcamp, 96th Operations Group deputy commander.