ME Seminar Series: Inventing the Joint Strike Fighter

Sep 17

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Monday, September 17, 2012 - 11:30am to 1:00pm

Functional Analysis has been utilized to design a common aircraft to replace the US Air Force F-16 Falcons, Navy and Marine F/A-18 Hornets, and Marine AV-8 Harriers.  The technical challenges involved in developing a common aircraft for all three services were met by designing three highly common, but not identical, variants of the same aircraft.  The key elements of this commonality are a basic structural arrangement which can accommodate the substitution of stronger parts in the Naval variant to absorb the greater takeoff and landing loads of carrier operations and an innovative propulsion system that can be switched from a turbofan cycle for conventional flight to a turboshaft cycle for vertical takeoff and landing in the Marine variant.  This propulsion system enabled the X-35 to become the first aircraft in history to fly at supersonic speeds, hover, and land vertically.  The development team won the Collier Trophy, which each year recognizes ¿the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America¿.  This presentation will describe the technical and program challenges involved in developing the Joint Strike Fighter and show how an innovative idea became an international program with engineers from half a dozen countries developing a single replacement aircraft for multiple aircraft types.