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X-51A. Jury rigging at its best

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posted on Mar, 26 2009 @ 10:33 AM
The X-51A Waverider was designed to fly at Mach 6.0+. In hopes of increasing the chances of that happening, they have jury rigged the flight system beyond belief.

The booster segment comes from the US Army ATACMS, the FADEC is a re-gift from the F-35, and the igniter canister comes from a TF-33 that used to fly on a C-141 Starlifter.

So why, on close inspection, does it seem so very ... jury-rigged?

For example, the X-51A's booster stage comes from the Army Tactical Missile Systems (ATACMS). The FADEC is re-gifted from the F-35 program, which had inherited a surplus digital control system from the F119. Its super-combusion ramjet engine, the most sophisticated of its kind, boasts an igniter pilfered from -- of all things -- a rotting TP-33 TF33 turbojet that once powered a Lockheed C-141 Starlifter.

Charlie Brink, the X-51A's Waverider programme manager, explains.
The $250 million Waverider experiment is designed to test the capabilities of supersonic combustion propulsion at hypersonic (Mach 5.0+) speeds. If anything fails during any of the four planned flight tests, it better have something to do with the engine, Brink says.

That philosophy drives a rule for Brink's contractors: take no unnecessary risks by integrating all-new and untested systems or components outside the critical path of the engine. The idea also carries over into structures.


It makes perfect sense, and the military has done it before, like with the F-117. But it's still amusing to see that such an advanced project that's going to help so much with the aviation industry is so jury rigged.

posted on Mar, 26 2009 @ 12:25 PM
And the air frame is held together with duct tape and bubble gum I suppose. GO AIR FORCE!


[edit on 26-3-2009 by dashen]

posted on Mar, 26 2009 @ 08:19 PM
They're just using proven hardware, instead of taking the risk (and cost) to design/build/test additional hardware. I will also grant Stephen the benefit of the doubt, and trust he meant "superSONIC-combustion ramjet" instead of "super-combustion". Last I heard the boys at PWR/AFRL were still using 'regular' combustion

posted on Mar, 30 2009 @ 02:29 PM
Program managers have admitted they're facing long odds to succeed. They currently only have four flights planned, but may get an additional two added on.

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