Tech

June 18, 2014

Experimental HiMAT aircraft has new home at NASA Armstrong

The HiMAT subscale research aircraft, seen here during a research flight in December 1980, demonstrated advanced fighter technologies that have been used in the development of many modern high performance military aircraft.

From mid-1979 to January 1983, two remotely piloted, experimental Highly Maneuverable Aircraft Technology) aircraft were flown at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center ñ now the Armstrong Flight Research Center – at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., to develop high-performance fighter technologies that would be applied to later aircraft.

The sub-scale HiMAT aircraft were about half the size of an F-16 and had nearly twice the fighter’s turning capability.

Now, one of the two HiMAT vehicles occupies a place of honor in a newly landscaped courtyard in front of the center’s Integrated Support Facility, the structure that houses the center’s visitor center and gift shop, cafeteria, auditorium and security offices. Mounted on its skid-type landing gear on three concrete supports, the freshly refurbished research aircraft appears ready to jump back into flight ñ if only someone would start its long-gone engine.

HiMAT experiments provided information on integrated, computerized controls; design features such as aeroelastic tailoring, close-coupled canards and winglets; the application of new composite materials; a digital integrated propulsion control system and the interaction of these then-new technologies with one another.

Appearing as if it were ready to take to the air again after a lapse of more than 31 years, NASA’s HiMAT sub-scale remotely operated research aircraft now graces the newly landscaped courtyard in front the Integrated Support Facility at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center.

The HiMAT plane’s rear-mounted swept wings, digital flight control system, and forward controllable canard made the plane’s turn radius twice as tight as that of conventional fighter planes. At near the speed of sound and at an altitude of 25,000 feet, the HiMAT vehicle could sustain an 8-G turn, producing acceleration equal to eight times that of gravity. By comparison, at the same altitude, an F-16’s maximum sustained turning capability at the same altitude and airspeed is about 4.5 Gs.

HiMAT research at NASA Dryden was conducted jointly by NASA and the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Because the planes were controlled from a ground station, experimental technologies and high-risk maneuverability tests could be employed without endangering pilots. The aircraft were flown 26 times during the program’s 3Ω-year history.

NASA’s Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif., and NASA Dryden partnered with the contractor, Rockwell International’s North American Aircraft division, in the design of the HiMAT aircraft.

NASA research test pilot Bill Dana controls the remotely operated HiMAT sub-scale research aircraft from a ground control station during a 1979 flight.

The HiMAT aircraft were 23.5 feet long and had a wingspan of just less than 16 feet. They were powered by a General Electric J-85-21 turbojet, which produced 5,000 pounds of static thrust at sea level. At launch from the center’s now-retired NB-52B mothership, the HiMAT planes weighed 4,030 pounds including 660 pounds of fuel. They had a top speed of Mach 1.4 — 1.4 times the speed of sound. About 30 percent of the materials used to construct the aircraft were experimental composites, mainly fiberglass and graphite-epoxy.

The other HiMAT aircraft is on display in the “Beyond the Limits” gallery at the National Air and Space Museum on the Capitol Mall in Washington, D.C.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
NASA photograph by Tom Tschida

NASA Armstrong leads team to test effects of volcanic ash on aircraft engines

NASA photograph by Tom Tschida Volcanic ash is sprayed into one of the F117 engines of a C-17 during the final phase of the Vehicle Integrated Propulsion Research (VIPR) project July 9 at Edwards. The VIPR team, comprised of NA...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA, partners test unmanned aircraft systems

NASA photograph NASA’s Ikhana is being used to test a system that will allow uncrewed aircraft to fly routine operations within the National Airspace System. NASA, working with government and industry partners, is testing...
 
 
NASA photograph

NASA-developed air traffic management tool flies into use

NASA photograph NASA Future Flight Central is a national Air Traffic Control/Air Traffic Management (ATC/ATM) simulation facility. The two-story facility offers a 360-degree full-scale, real-time simulation of an airport, where...
 

 
NASA photograph

Robotics teams prepare to compete for $1.5 million in NASA Challenge

NASA photograph The Los Angeles team Survey’s robot is seen as it conducts a demonstration of the level two challenge during the 2014 NASA Centennial Challenges Sample Return Robot Challenge, Thursday, June 12, 2014, at t...
 
 

NASA invests in future of aviation with supersonic research projects

Quieter, greener supersonic travel is the focus of eight studies selected by NASAís Commercial Supersonic Technology Project to receive more than $2.3 million in funding for research that may help overcome the remaining barriers to commercial supersonic flight. The research, which will be conducted by universities and industry, will address sonic booms and high-altitude emissions...
 
 
afrl-sensors

Sensors Directorate co-sponsors autonomous aerial vehicle competition

Members from the University of Toledo, Ohio, team make adjustments to their multirotor aircraft prior to the autonomous aerial vehicle competition. The Air Force Research Laboratory Sensors Directorate hosted the event April 28...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>