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NASA Meatball NASA Dryden F-18 Systems Research Aircraft (SRA) banner
F-18 SRA with Smart Skin Antenna replacing right tail fin end cap F-18 SRA with Smart Skin Antenna replacing right tail fin end cap

Photo Number: EC97-43950-1
Photo Date: February 25, 1997

Formats: 558x480 JPEG Image (54 KBytes)
1190x1024 JPEG Image (379 KBytes)
3030x2606 JPEG Image (6,421 KBytes)

Description: The vertical stabilizers in NASA's F/A-18 Systems Research Aircraft were no longer mirror images of each other. A new "Smart Skin" antenna mounted on the tip of the right vertical fin of the modified F/A-18 aircraft showed remarkable results in its first flight tests at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California.

The antenna system tests demonstrated a five-fold increase in voice communications range and a substantial improvement in the pattern of radiation and quality of transmission compared to the standard dorsal blade antenna on Dryden's F/A-18 Systems Research Aircraft. The Smart Skin antenna system was electrically as well as physically connected to the airframe, making the aircraft skin operate as an antenna along with the antenna itself. The concept was developed by TRW Avionics Systems Division and integrated into the F/A-18's vertical fin by Northrop-Grumman Corporation.

Keywords: F/A-18; F-18; SRA; Systems Research Aircraft; Smart Skin antenna; TRW Avionics Systems

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