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Partners in Freedom Contributions of the Langley Research Center to U.S. Military Aircraft of the 1990s

Partners in Freedom Contributions of the Langley Research Center to U.S. Military Aircraft of the 1990s

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Published by Bob Andrepont
NASA book on military aeronautics research at Langley.
NASA book on military aeronautics research at Langley.

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Published by: Bob Andrepont on Dec 30, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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"The making available to agencies directly concerned with national defense
of discoveries that have military value or significance ......

The foregoing statement is an excerpt from the National Aeronautics and Space Act of
1958, which in part established the formal relationship between NASA and those
responsible for the defense of the nation. Since its initial operations over 80 years ago,
the Langley Research Center has maintained an appropriate priority within its research
activities to ensure the quality, timeliness, and applications of its research in accordance
with this congressional act. As a result, Langley and the Department of Defense (DOD)
have maintained a strong and productive relationship. This critical teamwork has been
nurtured by mutual respect and recognition that the close working arrangements have

benefited both parties.

Langley's support of specific military aircraft development programs and Langley's fun-
damental research have provided many benefits to the DOD. By virtue of its indepen-
dent agency perspective, Langley's assessments of evolving technology and aircraft
systems have provided, and continue to provide, the DOD with unbiased analysis, opin-
ions, data, and extremely valuable recommendations for decisions about aeronautical
technology issues in its aircraft programs. Langley's staff has been frequently called
upon to participate or represent the DOD in early assessments and selections of compet-
ing aircraft designs. In addition, Langley's unique wind tunnels, simulators, and compu-
tational facilities have been extensively utilized for evaluations and development of
military aircraft. The DOD benefits from the extensive experiences and corporate
knowledge of the Langley staff as a result of Langley's participation in a vast number of
aircraft development programs. The multidiscipline expertise at Langley is viewed as a

unique capability and resource for the nation.

The DOD frequently requests the participation of Langley on review boards and acci-
dent investigations. The DOD also recognizes that technical problem-solving exercises
during aircraft development programs frequently do not provide the fundamental under-
standing or design tools necessary to avoid similar problems in future aircraft programs.
Therefore, the DOD encourages Langley to conduct follow-on research and frequently

assists NASA in obtaining the resources required for these efforts.

Finally, the DOD and its supporting industries value the innovative concepts and techni-
cal capabilities provided by the ongoing fundamental research programs at Langley.
Breakthrough concepts in aeronautics take years of dedicated research to bring to matu-
rity and readiness for application. Many examples are discussed herein where Langley
conceived, assessed, and reduced the risk of application of enabling technology when


that technology was critically needed for the development of major DOD aircraft


Providing support to the DOD in the development of military aircraft has provided
Langley with very significant benefits. By responding to DOD's requests, Langley
maintains relevance in research endeavors and receives test assets, valuable data, and
validation of research concepts. For example, DOD normally provides wind-tunnel
models for assessments in Langley's unique wind-tunnel facilities. (For more informa-
tion about selected Langley wind tunnels, see the appendix.) After the critical objectives
of aircraft development programs have been met, these models are frequently made
available to Langley researchers for generic research and assessments of advanced con-
cepts, which provides a mechanism for research studies that might not be otherwise

funded within the Langley budget.

By participating in problem-solving exercises with DOD, Langley researchers are
exposed to a myriad of real-world requirements and constraints, thereby gaining valu-
able awareness of limitations in designing and conducting research within specific tech-

nical disciplines. Researchers also experience the implication of off-design flight

conditions on new technologies, and thus obtain a much broader outlook for future
research opportunities. Another valuable benefit to Langley is the application and vali-
dation of research concepts and technical analysis methods. By becoming a team mem-
ber in DOD aircraft development programs, Langley researchers obtain highly valued
flight-test data and feedback that is unaffordable within NASA budget constraints.

The single most important benefit of the DOD and Langley partnership, however, is the
application of new technologies to this nation's first-line military aircraft, thereby help-
ing to ensure the continued supremacy of the airpower of the United States.


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