April 27, 1998 (by Lieven Dewitte) - NASA's F-16XL #1 research aircraft has completed the flight verification of a recently installed Digital Flight Control System (DFCS) at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif.
The F-16XL-1 upgrade provides NASA
with a testbed aircraft with a flexible digital flight control system that simplifies experiments requiring major new flight control functions or capabilities.
The test objectives for the modified aircraft were met with 10 flightswitch verified the functionality of the DFCS and that the performance and handling qualities of the aircraft are at least as good as the original aircraft configuration throughout the flight envelope. The DFCS utilizes an electronic flight control system coupled with a digital computer, replacing the F-16's original analog computer. The flight control system modification is equivalent to the U.S. Air Force F-16 upgrade known as block 40
. The aircraft's fly-by-wire flight control system remains intact. The added flexibility of the new system increases the versatility of this aircraft as a testbed for aerodynamic research and investigation of other advanced technologies.
The aircraft's instrumentation system is capable of monitoring control system operations and supporting additional measurements. Once modified, the system architecture will be amenable to the addition of a Research Flight Control System. The Research Flight Control System will provide a safe, flexible, and a reliable means to modify the aircraft control system software. This will allow researchers to use the F-16XL
for advanced control experiments at very low cost and to reduce the time it takes to carry out a flight experiment. Lockheed Martin Tactical Aircraft Systems division designed the DFCS software and assisted with the integration of the system. Lockheed Martin also supported Dryden personnel in the system installation and flight testing activities.