Aerospace manufacturers set their sights on research for future aircraft development and control
The nation's three leading military aircraft manufacturers are kicking off a potential $95 million research program into the technologies necessary to design and control future manned and unmanned airplanes.
By John Keller
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio — The nation's three leading military aircraft manufacturers are kicking off a potential $95 million research program into the technologies necessary to design and control future manned and unmanned airplanes.
The program, called the Air Vehicles Technology Integration Program (AVTIP), is under the supervision of the air vehicles directorate of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
AVTIP, which concerns control science, aeronautical science, and structures, will rely heavily on computer modeling for research into future airframes and control systems, explains Ed Schopler, the AVTIP program manager at Wright-Patterson.
The program's contractors are the Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Co. in Fort Worth, Texas; The Boeing Co. in Seattle; and Northrop Grumman Corp in El Segundo, Calif. All three won so-called indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts from the Air Force last November and December.
The program can spend as much as $95 million over the next eight years. Schopler says the AVTIP is a contract vehicle that enables program managers at the Air Force air vehicles directorate to move quickly on research initiatives.
"Once you have the basic contract established it gives you a mechanism to do any size individual technology effort with its own technical objectives and goals," Schopler says. "The individual project engineers can decide if they can meet technical requirements by going to those companies, and they use the AVTIP to do it."
The central aeronautical research areas of AVTIP involve unmanned aerial vehicle sustainment, spacecraft, and future strike aircraft, Schopler says.
The program not only will emphasize computer modeling for aircraft structures, but also will investigate new ways to control aircraft and integrate weapons aboard airframes. "It has to do with anything with how the airplane might fly, how to make it perform, and how the pilot makes the airplane move," Schopler explains.
The AVTIP contract announcement says the effort "provides for research of new technologies that will provide affordable, revolutionary capabilities to the warfighter. The developments will provide for cost effective, survivable aerospace platforms capable of accurate delivery of weapons and cargo worldwide."
For more information visit the air vehicles directorate site on the World Wide Web at http://www.va.afrl.af.mil/mission&1.htm.