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

Photo Number: EC97-43958-1
Photo Date: March 5, 1997

Formats: 558x480 JPEG Image (57 KBytes)
1190x1024 JPEG Image (586 KBytes)
3030x2606 JPEG Image (9,761 KBytes)

Description: NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, used this modified F/A-18 aircraft as a testbed to validate a number of technical innovations in aircraft control and data systems.

An experiment flown aboard Dryden's Systems Research Aircraft (SRA) involved a new "Smart Skin" antenna mounted in the tip of the right vertical fin of the highly-modified aircraft (shown here). The flight tests of the new antenna system 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 the 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; Hornet; SRA; Systems Research Aircraft; Smart Skin; antenna

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