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F-16XL Ship #2 Photo Gallery Contact Sheet F-16XL Ship #2 Photo Gallery Contact Sheet

Photo Number: N/A
Photo Date: 23 May 2000

Formats: Low Resolution Image Contact Sheet (121 KBytes)
Medium Resolution Image Contact Sheet (121 KBytes)
High Resolution Image Contact Sheet (107 KBytes)

Description: These are the image contact sheets for each image resolution of the NASA Dryden F-16XL Ship #2 Photo Gallery.

An F-16XL aircraft was used by the Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, in a NASA-wide program to improve laminar airflow on aircraft flying at sustained supersonic speeds. It is the first program to look at laminar flow on swept wings at speeds representative of those at which a High Speed Civil Transport may fly. Technological data from the program will be available for the development of future high speed aircraft, including commercial transports.

A certain amount of air turbulence occurs on the surface of most aircraft wings, regardless of shape and size. As air moves across an airfoil, it changes from a laminar (smooth) flow at the forward area to a more turbulent flow toward the trailing edge. The "perfect" wing would demonstrate laminar air flow across the entire surface of the wing, with no sign of turbulence. The turbulence affects flying performance by increasing aerodynamic drag and fuel consumption.

The Dryden program used the two-seat XL to test a glove installed over a portion of the left wing. The glove covers about 75 percent of the upper wing surface and 60 percent of the wing's leading edge. It was designed by a NASA-contractor team which included the Langley Research Center, Dryden, Rockwell International, Boeing, and McDonnell Douglas. The device was instrumented to determine the extent of laminar flow and measure other variables such as surface imperfections and the acoustic environment that may affect laminar flow at various flight conditions.

The experimental wing panel, made mostly of titanium, was perforated with about 10 million nearly microscopic laser-cut holes. An on-board suction system drew off, through the tiny holes, a small part of the boundary layer of air above the wing's surface. This created a laminar flow condition that reduced aerodynamic drag and contributed to fuel savings.

The F-16XL aircraft were built by General Dynamics Corp., at Ft. Worth, Tex., as prototypes for a derivative fighter evaluation program conducted by the Air Force between 1982 and 1985.

Keywords: F-16XL; no. 2; laminar flow; two-seat; glove; swept wings; supersonic; turbulence; NASA; Dryden; Langley Research Center; Rockwell International; Boeing; McDonnell Douglas; General Dynamics Corp.

Last Modified: February 6, 2002
Responsible NASA Official: Marty Curry
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