Sentinel ICBM system completes flight tests

Northrop Grumman Corporation has completed a series of wind tunnel tests of the LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile.

The test uses scaled models of the vehicle, stressed under environments from sub to hypersonic speeds, to validate digital modeling and simulations and prove design maturity of the missile.

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“This wind tunnel campaign is an opportunity to put our digitally engineered designs to the test, under conditions that mimic a missile launch,” Sarah Willoughby, vice president and program manager for the company’s Sentinel program, said in a release. “Predictions from the modeling correlated with the testing results, giving us confidence in our model-based engineering approach. Data from these tests will inform future engineering decisions as we mature the design and continue on a path to deliver this critical capability to the Air Force.”

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Wind tunnel testing is part of missile development programs to determines how a vehicle will perform during flight, according to Northrop Grumman.

Engineers created seven comprehensive test campaigns, each with a unique set of requirements, to measure how the missile would respond to various atmospheric, load and speed conditions, according to Northrop Grumman.

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The tests simulated firing the missile, to stage separation and various flight maneuvers. The team is now updating models to enable full scale predictive environments for the development of Sentinel flight hardware, according to Northrop Grumman.

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The tests were conducted at industry and government-run facilities across the U.S., according to the company.

The Sentinel weapon system will replace the Minuteman III ICBM system currently in use at Malmstrom Air Force Base and the other two missile wings at Minot and F.E. Warren AFBs.