RCS Measurement Facility
Boeing Phantom Works, St. Louis, Missouri
Boeing photo by Peter George
Boeing’s Near Field Test Facility (NFTF) is an innovative indoor near field RCS measurement facility for analysis of aircraft parts, models, and full-scale production aircraft. The system operates over the 0.2 to 18.0 GHz range. In addition to supporting ongoing development programs and special projects, the NFTF plays a critical role in F/A-18E/F Super Hornet production. A sample of approximately 25% of new production aircraft undergoes a detailed evaluation in the NFTF to verify the airplane's radar cross section.
As part of a system upgrade, The Howland Company developed a range geometry design including a unique antenna enclosure and aperture to minimize chamber wall, floor, and ceiling illumination; antenna layout; and RF absorber fence design. The project also included a self-propelled field probe. The design effort included a tradeoff study for the range geometry layout and a detailed field distribution analysis to optimize the aperture design for the required target zone size. We also designed a system add-on to permit low-frequency RCS measurements.
A Boeing video showing the Bird of Prey technology
demonstrator in flight and on the Near Field Test Facility turntable:
To download a Windows Media Player version
of the video,
right click here and select "Save Target As...". ( file, 3.5MB)
For more information on the NFTF, see Paul J. De Groot and
Melba Westerhold, "Boeing Near Field Test Facility (NFTF)
Upgrades & Design Tradeoffs," presented at the annual
meeting of the Antenna Measurement Techniques Association
(AMTA), Monterey, California, 4-8 October 1999.