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Defence is seeking expressions of interest from the Australian aerodynamics community to co-invest in new wind tunnels, low speed and transonic, that will meet the future requirements of Defence as well as Australian academia and industry.

The new Defence Science and Technology (DST) Strategy, titled More, Together: Defence Science and Technology Strategy 2030, aims to establish high-quality defence S&T precincts across Australia to foster closer relationships with industry and academia.

Defence has been a key partner in the Australian aerodynamics community for over 80 years, working closely with industry and academia to grow and develop critical sovereign capability in experimental aerodynamics. A cornerstone of Defence’s experimental capability continues to be its low-speed and transonic wind tunnels. These facilities have a proven track record in supporting Australian Universities, Industry and, primarily, the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

However, Defence has identified an emerging capability gap, both the low-speed and transonic wind tunnels are nearing the end of their service life. Defence has determined that investment in new experimental capabilities is critical; therefore, Defence has made provisions in its Integrated Investment Program (IIP) for new wind tunnels. A key to this strategy, will be partnering with Australian industry and academia to ensure that these new facilities can meet the future demands of a broad stakeholder group, and to maintain an essential sovereign aerodynamic test capability in Australia.

This proposal is aligned with the formation of a National Wind Tunnel Consortia, and recent discussion regarding the potential acquisition of a former Boeing high-speed (supersonic) wind tunnel.

Defence Drivers

The future Defence requirement for access to high-quality experimental test facilities is projected to expand across the Air, Land, and Maritime domains. Significant and enduring programs of work (out to 2050) have been identified that include:

  • Fixed-wing air-vehicles [requirement for both low speed and transonic wind tunnel testing]
  • Vertical lift systems [requirement for low speed tunnel testing]
  • Under-water vehicles – particular submarines [requirement for low speed wind tunnel testing]
  • Surface vessels [requirement for low speed wind tunnel testing]
  • Weapons systems – including the integration, safe carriage (internal / external) and release of weapons from air-vehicles (both manned / unmanned) [requirement for both low speed and transonic wind tunnel testing]
  • Land-based combat systems [requirement for low speed wind tunnel testing]

Defence Technical Requirements

Defence has determined a number of minimum technical requirements that are driving the specifications for new wind tunnel capabilities. These requirements represent the balancing of a number of competing factors including the scope / breadth of the test programs (i.e. diversity in the types of platforms being tested), desired test-conditions (i.e. approximation to full-scale / real-world conditions), engineering (i.e. the complexity and practicalities of designing, manufacturing and working with large test-articles), and economic considerations (i.e. the overheads in maintaining and operating industrial-scale test facilities). In brief, the minimum technical requirements for Defence include (but are not limited to):

 

Low Speed Wind Tunnel

  • Closed-circuit – continuous flow
  • Atmospheric pressure
  • Velocity 5 < m/s < 130 (Mach 0.4) – high-fidelity speed control +/- 0.2%
  • Multiple interchangeable test-section(s) – 4 m x 4 m
  • Low turbulence intensity < 0.2%.
  • Temperature stability < 2 deg.
  • Multiple model support option(s) – pylon / sting / six DOF actuated-arm.  Includes ability to operate dual support systems simultaneously.
  • Turn-table(s)
  • Excellent optical access – around the test-section
  • Good acoustic properties – low background noise

Transonic Wind Tunnel

  • Closed-circuit – continuous flow
  • Stagnation pressure – 20 < kPa < 200
  • Mach range – 0.2 < Mach < 1.5
  • Test-section(s) – 5 m x 1.5 m
  • Multiple model support option – side-wall / sting / six DOF actuated-arm.  Includes ability to operate dual support systems simultaneously.
  • Captive trajectory System (CTS) – half-model and twin sting arrangement.  Includes pitch-pause testing and continuous traverse testing.
  • Multiple mechanised interchangeable model-cart / test-section(s).
  • Configurable solid/slotted test section walls with excellent optical access.

Summary

We are seeking your interest in co-investing and partnering in the development of wind tunnels that deliver cutting-edge advancements in experimental aerodynamics. We see this as an opportunity to combine research expertise and efforts to drive innovation in Australia; as well as providing indirect benefits by supporting employment in the university sector and promoting pathways into Defence-related careers.

Expressions of interest can be sent to Bruce Woodyatt at Bruce.Woodyatt@dst.defence.gov.au