posted on Mar, 17 2006 @ 04:48 PM
Replica, or Testbed as it was known in the MoD, was designed “to develop a UK capability to provide a survivable, affordable and supportable air
platform to meet perceived Royal Air Force and Royal Navy requirements beyond current programmes.”
The mockup demonstrated shaping, materials and manufacturing techniques required to produce an LO air vehicle. It also demonstrated these in an
airframe that was highly representative of an actual combat aircraft which included details such as an internal weapons bay, radome, cockpit, etc. As
it was developed as part of the Future Offensive Aircraft programme which had the aim of procuring a Tornado replacement the vehicle itself has a bias
towards a strike role.
While the MDA, NGC, BAe JAST proposal and Replica certainly do look alike on the surface they are not related in any real way. BAe began work on both
at the same time (1994) and probably used the information from both in each design but the two are not carbon copies of each other, details such as
the tail, engine layout, cockpit, degree of wing sweep etc are different.
Some reports suggest that Replica was used to gain a more favourable position with LM in the JSF project but this was not an official aim. Stealth
technology was not a major sticking point with the US; agreements were in place that allowed the two countries to share related information so it was
not used to prove anything to the US.
After 1996 the MoD began moving away from the idea of a new manned aircraft for its Tornado replacement and began looking at CALCMs and UCAVs in
addition to current and/or future manned aircraft. Despite this, work continued on Replica/Testbed until its successful conclusion in 1999. An
unmanned version of the concept was also studied after 1996.
I think the pictures on the following links may be these studies but that’s just a guess.
Edit - Forgot to say, Nightjar is a reconfigurable mockup based on an egg shaped testbody. It followed on from Replica in 2000 with Nightjar I, we're
now on Nightjar II which will end in October this year.
[edit on 17-3-2006 by Mike_A]