The United States Air Force (USAF) Research Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida required the design and construction of a new High-Speed Penetrator Soft Catch Structure. The structure supports the recovery of high-velocity (4000 feet per second), subscale penetrators launched from propellant-based launchers on the Eglin Range. The 4000 fps requirement is necessary to support testing of the 180-pound test projectiles. Aerostar SES was chosen by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Mobile District as the construction contractor for this design-build project and Thompson Engineering was the professional services subcontractor to provide all engineering design support services.
Professional services included the topographic survey of the site; geotechnical investigations and engineering for foundation design; civil engineering for site geometry, grading, surface and subsurface drainage and paving; and structural engineering of the catchment chamber (1’-8” thick, reinforced concrete walls with 5” plate steel armoring), foundation and movable, track-mounted 60-ton reinforced concrete blocks. Thompson also provided environmental permitting and monitoring during construction and construction administration and assistance until the project was accepted by the USACE.
Complete design and review, from initial conception to issuance of construction documents, were completed in a four-month time frame. Close coordination was required with Aerostar SES and material suppliers to ensure design components were available and the overall project was constructible after issuance of final plans and specifications. During construction, Thompson Engineering provided assistance in the review of shop drawings and other requests for information to ensure the project progressed within the approximate 365-day design/construct schedule. The project was completed on time and provided the USAF Research Laboratory with a one-of-a-kind facility to enable researchers to test munitions and provide our armed forces with advanced weaponry.