Sentinel completes wind tunnel tests

By Shelley K. Mesch / February 17, 2023 at 12:23 PM

Northrop Grumman's LGM-35A Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile has completed a series of wind tunnel tests, the company announced Thursday.

The tests used scaled models of the vehicle in subsonic and hypersonic speed wind tunnels, according to a news release from Northrop. The program underwent seven test campaigns, which used various atmospheric, load and speed conditions and simulated firing, stage separation and flight maneuvers, the company said.

Northrop says the success of the tests -- which began last year -- “validates” its digital engineering methods.

“This wind tunnel campaign is an opportunity to put our digitally engineered designs to the test, under conditions that mimic a missile launch,” Sarah Willoughby, vice president and program manager for Sentinel, said in the release. “Predictions from the modeling correlated with the testing results, giving us confidence in our model-based engineering approach.”

Sentinel is in development to replace the Minuteman III ICBM, which was fielded during the Cold War, to modernize the land-based leg of the nuclear triad. The air- and sea-based legs are also undergoing modernization efforts with the B-21 Raider bomber and Columbia-class submarine, respectively.

Frank DeMauro, vice president and general manager of Northrop’s Strategic Deterrent Systems Division, said in September that Sentinel’s first flight test is expected in 2024.