Bangalore: The 1.2m Trisonic wind tunnel at National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL) has completed 55 years of service, with a milestone of 55,000 blowdowns.

As per a press release from National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), the 1.2m Trisonic wind tunnel at National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), Bengaluru was built during 1963-67 by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The first blowdown (test) was conducted on May 29, 1967.

The vision of late Dr P Neelakantan, the first Director of CSIR-National Aerospace Laboratories enabled the realization of this facility, which is the major workhorse for all the national aerospace programs. The highest speed of this tunnel is Mach 4.0 which is four times the speed of sound.

The mission of this facility is to provide advanced technology solutions to national aerospace programs, fighter aircraft, defence systems, launch vehicles and satellites and space systems. At that time, there was hardly any aerodynamic test requirement in the country. This wind tunnel was primarily conceived for research and development in experimental aerodynamics, the release added.

Subsequently, as the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) and Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) started developing of launch vehicles, missiles and aircraft, the need for high-speed wind tunnel tests in the 1.2m wind tunnel increased. To name a few, DRDO’s missiles such as Agni, Akaash, Prithvi, Pralay, SRSAM, LRSAM, ASTRA, NAG, LRAShM, BrahMos, Nirbhay, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, etc. were characterized in this facility. Similarly, aerodynamic characterization of ISRO’s launch vehicles such as ASLV, PSLV, SLV, SSLV, GSLV, RLV and GAGANYAAN programs were carried out extensively.

The nation’s first Light Combat Aircraft (LCA-TEJAS) was conceived at this facility and now it is flying in the sky. Many weapon integration programs on LCA, Mirage-2000, Sukhoi-30, Jaguar, MiG aircraft etc, were successfully carried out in this facility.

Currently, the 1.2m trisonic wind tunnel is the only industrial wind tunnel in the country providing the high-speed aerodynamic data for the national aerospace programmes both in the civil and military sectors. Practically each and every indigenously developed aerospace vehicle in the country has graduated out of this facility.

To cater to the emerging requirements of the country, continual upgrades of the facility have been implemented in CSIR-NAL, leading to many state-of-the-art techniques related to high-speed wind tunnel testing mainly to improve the data quality, productivity and life extension of various components of the wind tunnel. This facility has completed 55 years of glorious service to the nation and has crossed the milestone of 55,000 blowdowns which is a very commendable achievement indeed. The facility shall continue to meet the experimental aerodynamic data requirement of future programs.

CSIR-NAL is currently working towards setting-up of a continuous wind tunnel facility to meet the increased demand for high speed experimental aerodynamic data.