Lockheed Martin is purchasing the High Speed Wind Tunnel in Grand Prairie, Texas, one of the few wind tunnel facilities in the United States capable of generating test conditions at subsonic to supersonic speeds and at adjustable Mach numbers, announced the company. HSWT is “an aerospace engineering treasure, serving as a proving ground for hundreds of flight vehicles designed over the last six decades,” said Mike McWithey, HSWT manager, in the company’s March 25 release. For example, the A-7 Corsair II and space shuttle were tested at the facility, which has operated since 1958. Purchasing the previously leased facility will allow Lockheed Martin to upgrade it and enjoy flexibility in test scheduling, states the release. The company plans to modernize the tunnel’s test data system, utilities, and compressor system to significantly reduce operating costs. Government organizations like DARPA, the Missile Defense Agency, and NASA, along with industry, have routinely used the facility.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.