USA   F-111 Aardvark


Cold Proof for Amberley F-111
(with the permission of Air Force Today, publishers of, 9 November 2000)

The Cold Proof Load Test Facility at Amberley reached a milestone in the construction process last week, with the installation of a 77 tonne jig that will hold the F-111 in place during testing.

Resembling pieces from a giant Meccano set, the jig was taken from a cold proof load test facility in Bristol, England and was essentially cut into pieces, shipped to Australia and reassembled for installation at Amberley.

chains When the test facility becomes operational in mid-2000, Amberley’s F-111s will be ‘frozen’ to minus-40 degrees Celcius and the wings bent using hydraulic actuators to simulate the most extreme climatic and stress conditions imaginable. Any structural problems with the airframe will be evident when it is subjected to such extremes. pit2
fit This will then allow remedial action to be taken before what could be a catatrophic failure during flight.  Lockheed Martin Project Manager, Peter Morrell said lowering the jig into position represented the halfway point in the construction of the facility.

"This is a major step in the project; now we can build the rest of the structure and install all the hydraulics, refrigeration plant andother systems necessary to run the facility," he said.

"We are about three weeks ahead of schedule and if everything else goes to plan the facility should be open by the planned completion date in June 2001."

"In a period of eight months, the building contractor, John Holland have gone through the design, planning and consultation stage to bring us where we are now."

"Cold Proof Project Engineering Manager FLTLT David Houghton, said the facility would play a significant role in maintaining the F-111 fleet.

"Because Australia is now the sole operator of the F-111, Amberley is the centre for F-111 maintenance. Part of that maintenance requirement is to conduct cold proof load testing on aircraft throughout their operational life.


Under Strain
Hydraulic rams put the strain on this frozen F-111.

The project also has a high amount of involvement from Australian industry.

Peter Morrell said the project was also unique because it put Lockheed Martin Australia in the position of prime contractor.

"Normally it’s the other way around," he said. "We are sub-contracting the American division of Lockheed Martin to carry out work on the control and data systems for the new facility, which is something of a first."

See another article about Cold Proof Load Test LOGO


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