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Flexible Winged Aircraft Recieves X-53 Designation

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posted on Dec, 19 2006 @ 06:12 AM
Originally posted on my blog on 19/12/2006

The Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) aircraft is a joint project between NASA Dryden, the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Boeing Phantom Works. The test plane, a modified F/A-18, has a digital flight control system which allows the wings to naturally twist and morph for better manoeuvrability during high speed flight.

Instead of having standard stiff control surfaces the aircraft has flexible leading and trailing edges. These take advantage of the aeroelastic effects that are often detrimental to standard flight. In my opinion the technology could also reduce radar reflections, in turn increasing stealth, from the joins on normal control surfaces.

Obtaining the X-53 name is a step forward as it demonstrates the importance of the project and also makes it more visible to the public and industry insiders. In the future this technology could be used on morphing unmanned aerial vehicles and strike bombers.

See this old thread for further background.

[edit on 19/12/06 by gfad]

posted on Dec, 20 2006 @ 06:20 AM
I would be interested to know how this AAW technology differs from Lockheed's morphing technology.

Also although X-planes don't necessarily appear in numerical sequence I would be curious as to what the X-52 is? GFAD, after our discussion on my blog, I got to thinking that perhaps you are right.

What if the X-52 were Lockheed's morphing wing technology and X-53 is Boeing's?

Oh well, it's fun to speculate.

X-51A = hypersonic scramjet demonstrator
X-52 = ?
X-53 = Boeing morphing wing technology

posted on Dec, 20 2006 @ 07:49 AM
Heres the link I posted on intelgurls blog.

This is the only lead I can find, it is from a Slovak plane site. I often visit the site because it is a veritable tome of rare plane photos and plane designs and makes a fascinating source or just a browse. He has a page on the X-52 which I cant read since I dont speak slovak but the pictures imply that it is some jointed wing design. I dont know his source of this info.

From what I understand Lockheeds morphing technology involves actually bending the wing along a joint, as in the image below, to change between a slower recon plane and a faster strike aircraft.

Whereas the Boeing AAW involves flexing and bending the leading and trailing edges of the wings instead of using control surfaces.

[edit on 20/12/06 by gfad]

posted on Dec, 20 2006 @ 07:56 AM
Yeah, that's Matej's website.

Matej, if you have the opportunity to help us out here - that would be great...

posted on Dec, 20 2006 @ 07:59 AM
OK i've found two separate sites which have the same reason for the skipping of the X-52 designation.
Source 1 (see note 51 a the very bottom)(this appears to be quoting some official DOD source)
Source 2

Both sites say that X-52 was skipped to avoid confusion with the (clearly infamous) B-52. Source 1 just says it was skipped, Source 2 says that Boeing requested X-52 for the AAW but was refused to avoid confusion and assigned the X-53 instead.

I'd still be interested in Matej's sources though.

[edit on 20/12/06 by gfad]

posted on Dec, 20 2006 @ 01:14 PM

Originally posted by gfad
Both sites say that X-52 was skipped to avoid confusion with the (clearly infamous) B-52. Source 1 just says it was skipped, Source 2 says that Boeing requested X-52 for the AAW but was refused to avoid confusion and assigned the X-53 instead.

Well, that takes the fun out of conjecture, doesn't it?

posted on Dec, 20 2006 @ 02:00 PM
In fact the both links that gfad posted are the same site. Andreas (author) is right, X-52 was really skipped, what is precedent in X-planes serie.

On my web (that will be updated after new server relaunch in January) are older possibilities for future X-planes. So not only for X-52, but also next numbers. The hot candidates were Lockheed Joined Wing Integrated Structures prepared for modified S-3 Viking (however I still cant understand, why is main participant Boeing Phantom Works and not Skunk Works), HyperSpectral APEX glider, Lockheed SV-ATD - active aeroelastic wing unmanned demonstrator, innovative helicopter without the "tanier cykliky" (and you can translate it from Slovak language because I cant
), pulse detonation engine mounted in F-15 (that was meantime cancelled), etc.

AAW technology differs from Lockheed's morphing technology by principle. Lockheed´s unmanned demonstrator changes its wing surface and swept by compoudning it like harmonica (as shown on picture), while AAW technology twist the wing and use it instead of conventional manoeuvring surfaces. You will understand what is happening simply by imagining the Wright Flyer 1. BTW, AAW technology was firstly proposed for cancelled X-39 FATE, than for Lockheed´s unmanned demonstrator posted above, but it was finaly tested on NASA´s F-18.

Hope this helps

PS: gfad - thanks for visiting my web

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