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F-18 Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW)

DFRC Movie # Movie Date Movie Description
EM-0082-04 circa 2003 F-18 AAW takeoff from Edwards AFB
EM-0082-03 circa 2003 F-18 AAW high-speed rolls over the Mojave Desert
EM-0082-02 December 2002 F/A-18A Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) flight test.
EM-0082-01 December 2002 Time lapsed film of Active Aeroelastic Wing (AAW) loads test.

The Active Aeroelastic Wing program at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center seeks to determine the advantages of twisting flexible wings for primary maneuvering roll control at transonic and supersonic speeds, with traditional control surfaces such as ailerons and leading-edge flaps used to aerodynamically induce the twist. From flight test and simulation data, the program is developing structural modeling techniques and tools to help design lighter, more flexible high aspect-ratio wings for future high-performance aircraft, which could translate to more economical operation or greater payload capability.

AAW flight tests began in November, 2002 with checkout and parameter-identification flights. Based on data obtained during 50 research flights over a five-month period, new flight control software is being developed. A second series of research flights will then evaluate the AAW concept in a real-world environment. The program uses wings that were modified to the flexibility of the original pre-production F-18 wing. Other modifications include a new actuator to operate the outboard leading edge flap over a greater range and rate, and a research flight control system to host the aeroelastic wing control laws.

The Active Aeroelastic Wing Program is jointly funded and managed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, with Boeing's Phantom Works as prime contractor for wing modifications and flight control software development. The F/A-18A aircraft was provided by the Naval Aviation Systems Test Team and modified for its research role by NASA Dryden technicians.

Last Modified: February 26, 2003
Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
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