|Boeing Completes X-32B Structural Mode Tests |
Boeing Completes X-32B Structural Mode Tests
Palmdale, Calif. -- December 12, 2000 -- (AFPN) -- Boeing completed structural mode interaction testing of its X-32B Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrator Dec. 10, moving the aircraft a step closer to first flight.
A Boeing worker checks data during a structural mode interaction test on the X-32B Joint Strike Fighter concept demonstrator. The X-32B is expected to start short take-off vertical landing flights early next year.
Photo by Kevin Flynn
The X-32B, which is expected to fly during the first quarter of 2001, will validate the Boeing direct-lift approach to short take-off vertical landing flight -- one of three customer requirements in the Concept Demonstration Phase of the JSF program.
"Completion of the SMI tests is another positive step as we continue to validate our design," said Katy Fleming, Boeing JSF system test director. "We're making great progress; these tests reduce risk and help confirm that we are ready to begin a safe and productive X-32B flight-test program."
During SMI testing, the aircraft's flight control surfaces are moved at varying frequencies. This evaluation ensures special filters added to the flight control system are functioning properly to prevent vibration in other aircraft components.
Conventional takeoff and landing SMI test points were completed in November. Boeing completed the first phase of STOVL engine runs in the X-32B aircraft in late September. High-power conventional and STOVL engine runs are expected to begin later this month.
"To date, X-32B system performance is meeting all predictions and models, and we are demonstrating the high commonality between our X-32A CTOL and carrier-variant aircraft and the STOVL aircraft," said Frank Statkus, Boeing vice president and JSF general manager.
To perform STOVL maneuvers, a system redirects engine thrust downward through lift nozzles in the airframe. For conventional flight the lift nozzles are closed so thrust flows rearward through a cruise nozzle to propel the aircraft forward and up to supersonic speeds.
In more than 500 trials on the STOVL run stand, transition times between conventional and vertical thrust have been accomplished repeatedly in one to three seconds, which is critically important for unrestricted STOVL operations and aircraft safety. Integration of the attitude-control system with the direct-lift system has been virtually flawless.
Additionally, the company's X-32A demonstrator, which made its first flight Sept. 18, completed government-required carrier-variant tests here Dec. 2.
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