DERA VAAC Harrier in JSF control laws researchhttp://defence-data.com/storypic/harriervaac.jpg [not image]
17 January 2000
The American/UK Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) programme has selected DERA's VAAC (Vectored thrust Aircraft Advanced flight Control) Harrier to conduct further trials in advanced STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) control law development for shipboard operations. Collaboratively funded by the JSF programme office and DERA in the UK it has a value of Ј1.6 million
DERA's VAAC Harrier
The DERA VAAC Harrier has one of the most capable and unique system in the world for studying control concepts for powered lift aircraft. A detailed modification to its two-seater format has introduced a digital flight control system that offers advanced, programmable fly-by-wire capabilities from the rear seat. The result gives the rear pilot full-authority, digital control of the aircraft allowing programmable computer simulations of different flying modes to be developed and installed.
The forthcoming JSF trials will build on prior DERA/NASA research into advanced control laws but will represent the first comprehensive shipboard evaluation. DERA is well placed to continue these studies having been the first to achieve a successful fly-by-wire landing of the VAAC Harrier onto the deck HMS Illustrious in September 1999.
The timing for this research contract is significant as it will help reduce the risk of the JSF STOVL flight control system development efforts as the programme enters the EMD (Engineering Manufacturing & Design) phase in 2001. The VAAC Harrier is well known to the JSF programme and has been used for both government and contractural evaluations in the past.
"The DERA VAAC Harrier provides us with a unique test facility" says Colonel Gene Fraser, Systems Engineering Director for the JSF programme. "DERA will be able to investigate the design options for shipboard control concepts to help reduce STOVL flight control law development risk ".
The VAAC Harrier's digital flight control system has three key implications. Firstly it allows the testing of different flying modes in real-flight environments. Secondly, modifications to the software and the flying experience can be done swiftly and easily between flights with the significant benefit of incorporating pilot feedback almost instantaneously. Thirdly, it offers STOVL capability without the need for the tricky third nozzle control lever, thus significantly improving flying simplicity.