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Northrop/Grumman Switchblade aircraft

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posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 08:50 AM
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I was looking for a secret black projet and I found this one.
It is a stealth swing-wing aircraft with variable wing geometry developed by both Northrop and Grumman before they merged together. It has all advantages of forward swept wing but has also the speed and range of normal wing.

"It is a bomber, a fighter, and a high-speed plane all in one. It accomplishes this by using a unique swing-wing design. The wings are attached to its fuselage (body) at a pivot point toward the back of the plane. When the wings are fully extended, the plane can fly slowly to drop bombs precisely on their targets or land on short runways. When the wings are swept farther forward, the aircraft takes advantage of the maneuverability that forward-swept wings offer, and becomes an agile fighter. When the wings are swept fully forward, the trailing edge of the wing becomes the leading edge, and the aircraft turns into a delta shape perfect for dashing away at speeds up to Mach 3."

In this configuration the plane can fly very low to precisely droping the bombs at its targets.


With its wings swept farther forward, the aircraft becomes extremely maneuverable for AA combat


When the wings are swept fully forward, the trailing edge of the wing becomes the leading edge, and the Switchblade can dash away at speeds up to Mach 3.


That means, the Switchblade can carry out multiple missions just by reconfiguring itself in flight.

The Switchblade is going to replace the F-111 fighter-bomber, which was permanently retired in 1995. The F-111 was a medium-sized bomber that could defend itself like a fighter and speed away at more than 1600 miles an hour.

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In November 1999, the Switchblade was patented by the Northrop Grumman Corporation: U.S. Patent 5,984,231. It states, "An aircraft with a variable forward-sweep wing and the method of configuring the wing in an optimal position for a desired flight regime. The variable forward-sweep wing is positionable from an essentially unswept position to a full-forward sweep position. In the unswept position the wing is approximately orthogonal to a fuselage centerline, while in the full-forward sweep position the wing has approximately a delta wing planform[platform]. Moreover, as the wing position changes from the unswept position to the full-forward sweep position the trailing edge becomes the leading edge. In addition, the aforementioned apparatus may be used in a method to configure the aircraft for flight in a desired flight regime. This method includes moving the wing to an optimal position for the desired flight regime."



Patent drawings


More pics :





Sources :
area51
air attack
popular mechanics


[edit on 5-9-2004 by longbow]

[edit on 5-9-2004 by longbow]




posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 10:29 AM
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The Switchblade concept was the subject of a Northrop patent several years ago but it has not matured into an actual aircraft, the line drawing you posted is the one in the patent application and it was rumoured for several years that the type existed as a working aircraft. There was a major feature about it in Aircraft Illustrated in 2001 and the Area 51 Zone entry on the type is largely (but not only) constructed from the info I sent them. A fascinating concept, it is the basis of the fictional F/A-37 that we have seen on here a couple of times.



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 11:44 AM
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This is very innovative. Extremely clever. But it would seem that the wing cross-section geometry would be tricky, providing lift in forward and backward configuration. Where are the control surfaces? OK I can see them in the drawing. But how would they work when the wing is swept forward?

[edit on 5-9-2004 by cimmerius]



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 01:03 PM
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Originally posted by cimmerius

This is very innovative. Extremely clever. But it would seem that the wing cross-section geometry would be tricky, providing lift in forward and backward configuration. Where are the control surfaces? OK I can see them in the drawing. But how would they work when the wing is swept forward?


There is no need for much lift when the wing are folded because the aircraft is traveling very fast (Mach 3) - so it's the tiny leading edges (previously trailing) are creating more than enough lift (and have also lover drag).

About those control surfaces - I don't know how they solved it ( IF they solved it).


Waynos - I know it was only concept (and patent) and they made no prototype, but very interesting, especially great for Navy carriers, because it can land at slow speeds but still has great range and max. speed. Ideal replacement for F-14
.
Currently there is only F-22 and JSF, but maybe we will see some aircraft based on this concept in the future.

[edit on 5-9-2004 by longbow]



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 02:23 PM
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Some of the technology that went into the patent was from the NASA X-29 Forward Swept Wing Concept. The X-29 was a modified F-5 with major composite structures.

The Nazi's during WWII did alot of research into forward swept wings...We never did alot of work with it.

=-Rich



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 02:40 PM
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Originally posted by longbow
Waynos - I know it was only concept (and patent) and they made no prototype, but very interesting, especially great for Navy carriers, because it can land at slow speeds but still has great range and max. speed. Ideal replacement for F-14
.
Currently there is only F-22 and JSF, but maybe we will see some aircraft based on this concept in the future.

[edit on 5-9-2004 by longbow]


I agree


The problem (as I understand it) with the tomcat is that it costs a LOT of money for upkeep, mainly because of the variable geometry involved. If they can fix that, and make it affordable, I think that a stealthy switchblade would be the Navys counter to the F-22.



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 03:55 PM
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Sorry for seeming patronising Longbow, it wasn't intentional.

I wonder, though, if the movie 'Stealth' is allowed to depict the concept only because it has already been abandoned by Industry as overcomplex or unworkable? It would be a shame if this was true as I agree with your sentiments about it.

About difficulties with the control surfaces, I would have thought that when the wing reverses (sweeps fully forward) it would just need to lock off the control surfaces on the leading (ex-trailing) edge, like a VG aircraft has to lock off its inboard trailing edge control surfaces when the wings are fully swept and they are moved inside the fuselage?



posted on Sep, 5 2004 @ 05:39 PM
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Cool find longbow
I like the look of that plane. Its a very intersting design."perfect for dashing away at speeds up to Mach 3" wow More proof that the military wants a very fast bomber. Which I think they have but we just dont know about it.

I have also heard talk of new materials that would allow a plane to change shape in flight for different roles. Every thing from changing the shape of the wing to increasing size and shape of engine inlets.

I think Morphing aircraft are in our future.


E_T

posted on Sep, 6 2004 @ 07:09 AM
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Originally posted by longbow

Originally posted by cimmeriusThis is very innovative. Extremely clever. But it would seem that the wing cross-section geometry would be tricky, providing lift in forward and backward configuration. Where are the control surfaces? OK I can see them in the drawing. But how would they work when the wing is swept forward?

There is no need for much lift when the wing are folded because the aircraft is traveling very fast (Mach 3) - so it's the tiny leading edges (previously trailing) are creating more than enough lift (and have also lover drag).

Actually aircraft's body would produce much of its lift.
(one kind of "lifting body" is already used in planes like F-14)

And why the hell you need control surfaces?
www.globalsecurity.org...

And I remember reading somewhere that even movable nozzles could be eliminated using injection of high pressure air to deflect/control engine exhaust... which would make engine nozzles much simpler, lighter and magnitude stealthier.



posted on Sep, 6 2004 @ 07:25 AM
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both the area51zone and the air-attack website (my website
) are based on that popular mechanics article.
Unfortunately there isn't any other information available about this concept.



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