Air Force, Lockheed Develop Unmanned NASA Research Aircraft; Gary Martin Comments

Air Force, Lockheed Develop Unmanned NASA Research Aircraft; Gary Martin Comments - top government contractors - best government contracting event
Site: NASA.gov

Lockheed Martin and the Air Force are building a small unmanned aircraft that NASA will use to conduct testing on new technologies, Armed With Science reports. 

The Bethesda, Md.-based company is building the 7.5-foot long multi-use technology testbed vehicle at its California facilities.

The unmanned aircraft will have a 28-foot wingspan and will be powered with two engines with 52-pound thrust. 

The Air Force Research Laboratory and Lockheed are developing the aircraft for NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center.

NASA will use the aircraft to test technologies that will be needed for new flexible and lightweight aircraft, the report said. 

Lockheed is set to conduct flight tests on the MUTT for the Air Force this summer.

NASA will oversee the flights and take ownership of the vehicle for follow-on research in early fall.

MUTT uses long, thin wings, which are susceptible to flutter vibrations causing by the air flow force.

Wind gusts and atmospheric turbulence also put stress on the wings. 

Gary Martin, deputy project manager for NASA's subsonic fixed wing project at Dryden, said flexible wings and fuselages can result in reduction of overall aircraft structural weight. 

Martin said NASA will work with flutter suppression and wind gust alleviation technologies in order to advance their use for future aircraft.

MUTT is built so engineers can test flutter suppressant measures such as software programs in the aircraft’s flight control computer. 

According to the report, the low-speed, subsonic research aircraft will also benefit aircraft dedicated to speed.

Research about flutter and gust suppression will be used to design the X-54, which is a sonic boom-quieting technology.

The report indicates this research could alleviate concerns related to supersonic commercial flight over the U.S. 

Lockheed developed a cargo unmanned helicopter currently deployed in Afghanistan that the U.S. Marine Corps will continue to test upon the aircraft’s return to the U.S. 

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