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Boeing X-53 AAW (Active Aeroelastic Wing)


Experimental Aircraft [ 2006 ]



The NASA-Boeing X-53 AAW tech demonstrator was based in the FA-18A Hornet series fighter designed to prove the validity of a bending-twisting mainplane.



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 11/05/2021 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

GO TO SPECIFICATIONS [+]
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The Boeing X-53 AAW served the Air Force Research Laboratory, Boeing Phantom Works, and NASA in the study of twisting wing mainplanes through an "Active Aeroelastic Wing" (AAW) design. The concept involved the basic structure coupled to advanced controls and general aerodynamic principles to achieve the desired results (namely roll control). The airframe in question was a McDonnell Douglas F/A-18A "Hornet" production carrier-based fighter modified with the new mainplanes and flew for the first time on November 15th, 2002. Only a single example was configured and tested in this manner.

The concept has been around for some time, employed by the Wright Brothers through the "wing-warping" wingtip approach for flight controlling. Utilizing a more modern approach, the NASA product relied on a twisting wing actuated by conventional ailerons and leading-edge flaps. The result was a bending, twisting wing able to provide enhanced agility through only slight movements of the surfaces.

The project got its start in 1996 and the project airframe was worked on in 2001, adding special instrumentation and components to the cockpit including a research flight control computer and data probe at the nose. Flight testing ran into 2005. The aircraft was subject to all manner of tests, both in-air and on the ground, flying at speeds between Mach 0.85 and Mach 1.3 while traversing altitudes of 5,000 feet to 25,000 feet.

The program succeeded in proving a bending/twisting wing was applicable to modern jets, allowing for the development of ever-thinner, higher-aspect ratio mainplanes that doubled-down on efficiency at varying phases of flight.
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Specifications



Service Year
2006

Origin
United States national flag graphic
United States

Status
RETIRED
Not in Service.
Crew
1

Production
1
UNITS


Boeing Company / McDonnell Douglas / Northrop Grumman / NASA - USA
(View other Aviaton-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of the United States United States (retired)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
X-Plane (Developmental, Prototype, Technology Demonstrator)
Aircraft developed for the role of prototyping, technology demonstration, or research / data collection.


MULTI-ENGINE
Incorporates two or more engines, enhancing survivability and / or performance.
WING SWEEPBACK
Mainplanes, or leading edges, features swept-back lines for enhanced high-speed performance and handling.
HIGH-SPEED PERFORMANCE
Can accelerate to higher speeds than average aircraft of its time.
HIGH-ALTITUDE PERFORMANCE
Can reach and operate at higher altitudes than average aircraft of its time.
EXTENDED RANGE PERFORMANCE
Capability to travel considerable distances through onboard fuel stores.
SUPER PERFORMANCE
Design covers the three all-important performance categories of speed, altitude, and range.
PILOT / CREW EJECTION SYSTEM
Assisted process of allowing its pilot and / or crew to eject in the event of an airborne emergency.
CREWSPACE PRESSURIZATION
Supports pressurization required at higher operating altitudes for crew survival.
ENCLOSED CREWSPACE(S)
Features partially- or wholly-enclosed crew workspaces.
RETRACTABLE UNDERCARRIAGE
Features retracting / retractable undercarriage to preserve aerodynamic efficiency.


Length
56.1 ft
(17.10 m)
Width/Span
38.4 ft
(11.70 m)
Height
15.3 ft
(4.65 m)
MTOW
39,022 lb
(17,700 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Boeing X-53 AAW (F/A-18A) production variant)
monoplane / shoulder-mounted / swept-back
Monoplane
Design utilizes a single primary wing mainplane; this represent the most popular mainplane arrangement.
Shoulder-Mounted
Mainplanes are mounted at the upper section of the fuselage, generally at the imaginary line intersecting the pilot's shoulders.
Swept-Back
The planform features wing sweep back along the leading edges of the mainplane, promoting higher operating speeds.
(Structural descriptors pertain to the Boeing X-53 AAW (F/A-18A) production variant)
Installed: 2 x General Electric F404-GE-400 afterburning turbofan engines developing 16,000 lb of thrust each.
Max Speed
1,190 mph
(1,915 kph | 1,034 kts)
Ceiling
49,213 ft
(15,000 m | 9 mi)
Range
1,864 mi
(3,000 km | 5,556 nm)
Rate-of-Climb
50,000 ft/min
(15,240 m/min)


♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030


(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Boeing X-53 AAW (F/A-18A) production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)
None.


X-53 - Base Product Designation; single example completed from F/A-18A Hornet airframe.


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