Drucella Andersen Headquarters, Washington, D.C.

April 24, 1992 (Phone: 202/453-8613) Don Haley Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility, Edwards, Calif. (Phone: 805/258-3456) RELEASE: 92-52 X-31 DEMONSTRATOR FLIGHTS RESUMED AT AMES-DRYDEN Flights of the X-31 Enhanced Fighter Maneuverability demonstrator aircraft resumed yesterday afternoon at NASA's Ames-Dryden Flight Research Facility, Edwards, Calif. Today's mission, piloted by Carl Lang of the German firm Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm, lasted about 1 hour. It was a check of aircraft systems after a period of planned maintenance. The X-31s are being flown at Ames-Dryden to show the value of thrust vectoring (directing engine exhaust flow) coupled with an advanced flight control system for close-in air combat at very high angles-of-attack. An international test organization, managed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), is conducting the flight tests to obtain data that may apply to highly-maneuverable next-generation fighters. During the next year, an international team of pilots will make as many as 20 test flights a month with each X-31. They will expand the plane's flight envelop at Ames-Dryden to prepare for military utility evaluations at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Md., in early 1993. The two aircraft made 108 test flights in the program's initial phase of operations at Rockwell International's Palmdale, California's facility before resuming operations at Ames-Dryden. The X-31 first flew in October l990.

-more-2"Angle-of-attack" is an engineering term for the angle of an aircraft's body and wings relative to its actual flight path. In combat maneuvers, pilots often fly at extreme nose-high angles while the plane continues to go forward. At high angles-of-attack, forces produced by the aerodynamic surfaces are reduced and the pilot can lose control of the aircraft. Thrust vectoring paddles on the X-31's exhaust nozzle direct the exhaust flow to provide control in pitch (up and down) and yaw (right and left) that improves maneuverability at high angles-of-attack. Military officials believe that this can give fighter pilots a tactical advantage over planes without enhanced controls. Besides DARPA and NASA, the X-31 International Test Organization (ITO) includes the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Air Force, Rockwell International, the Federal Republic of Germany and Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm. About 110 people from the ITO agencies are assigned to the program. NASA is responsible for flight test operations and will take part in aircraft maintenance and research engineering. The X-31 is the first international experimental aircraft development program administered by a U.S. government agency. It is a key effort of the NATO Cooperative Research and Development Program. -endNOTE TO EDITORS: Photographs are available to media representatives to illustrate this release by calling 202/453-8375. Color: 92-HC-249 92-HC-250 B&W: 92-H-285 B&W: 92-H-286