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AFTI/F-16 Spin chute close-up AFTI/F-16 Spin chute close-up

Photo Number: ECN-22193
Photo Date: December 22, 1982

Formats: 539x480 JPEG Image (94 KBytes)
1150x1024 JPEG Image (474 KBytes)
3000x2670 JPEG Image (4,694 KBytes)

A close-up photo of the spin chute mounted on the rear fuselage of the AFTI F-16, a safety device designed to prevent the loss of aircraft in spin conditions. Under some circumstances, pilots cannot recover from spins using normal controls. It these instances, the spin chute is deployed, thus "breaking" the spin and enabling the pilot to recover. The spin chute is held in a metal cylinder attached to the AFTI F-16 by four tubes, a structure strong enough to withstand the shock of the spin chute opening. Unlike the air probe in the last photo, spin chutes are not standard equipment on research or prototype aircraft but are commonly attached expressly for actual spin tests.

During the 1980s and 1990s, NASA and the U.S. Air Force participated in a joint program to integrate and demonstrate new avionics technologies to improve close air support capabilities in next-generation aircraft.

The testbed aircraft was called the Advanced Fighter Technology Integration (AFTI) F-16. The tests demonstrated technologies to improve navigation and the pilot's ability to find and destroy enemy ground targets day or night, including adverse weather. The aircraft--an F-16A Fighting Falcon (Serial #75-0750)--underwent numerous modifications. A relatively low-cost testbed, it evaluated the feasability of advanced, intergrated-sensor, avionics, and flight control technologies.

During the first phase of the AFTI/F-16 program, which began in 1983, the aircraft demonstrated voice-actuated commands, helmet-mounted sights, flat turns, and selective fuselage pointing using forward-mounted canards and a triplex digital flight control computer system.

The second phase of research, which began in the summer of 1991, demonstrated advanced technologies and capabilities to find and destroy ground targets day or night, and in adverse weather while using maneuverability and speed at low altitude. This phase was known as the close air support and battlefield air interdiction (CAS/BAI) phase.

Finally, the aircraft was used to assess the Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto - GCAS), a joint project with the Swedish Government. For these tests, the pilot flew the aircraft directly toward the ground, simulating a total loss of control. The GCAS was designed to take command in such emergencies and bring the aircraft back to level flight.

The AFTI F-16 program ended at Dryden on November 4, 1997 after 15 years and over 700 research flights. The USAF continued to fly the aircraft until retiring it to the Air Force Museum on January 9, 2001.

Keywords: F-16; AFTI; Advanced Fighter Technology Integration; Lockheed; Fighting Falcon; Air Force; Auto-GCAS; Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System; voice-actuated commands; helmet-mounted sights; flat turns; selective fuselage pointing; forward-mounted canards; spin recovery chute

Last Modified: February 6, 2002
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