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New USAF X-Plane, the X-56A UAV, Revealed by Aviation Week X-56A is considered the future of HALE reconnaissance aircraft

NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- In exclusive coverage, Aviation Week has revealed a new U.S. Air Force X-plane, the X-56A Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which will test active flutter suppression and gust load alleviation-- vital technologies that will propel the development of slender, lightweight, high-aspect-ratio wings for future transports and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance UAVs. Designed by Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, the X-56A flying wing will also be flown by NASA and is considered the future of high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) reconnaissance aircraft.

Configured for easy wing replacement, the 28-foot-long X-56A features stiff wings, as well as multiple sets of flexible wings, and a parachute recovery system, in case a wing fails in flight. The UAV will test the outer limits of the flight envelope where flutter occurs. Flutter is the potentially catastrophic dynamic coupling that can occur between the elastic motion of the wing and the aerodynamic loads acting on it.

"The success of HALE UAVs will hinge on their ability to survey vast areas with sensors embedded in the wings. The wings therefore have to be very stable, and the X-56A will help pioneer methods for predicting the behavior of these thin aerofoils as well as ways to prevent them from fluttering," said Guy Norris, senior editor, Aviation Week. "The X-56A cleverly reduces the risk of losing an entire aircraft during these risky tests, and will provide technological insights that are essential to both the Air Force and NASA."

The X-56A is in final assembly at GFMI Aerospace and Defense in California and will be delivered to Lockheed in April and transported to Edwards Air Force Base in June. Test flights are scheduled for this summer, and the X-56A is expected to transfer to NASA by year's end.

Read the full article in the Aerospace Daily & Defense Report online at http://bit.ly/zarr7x or in the Aviation Week Intelligence Network (AWIN). AviationWeek.com is the leading aerospace and defense (A&D) website with over 2.5 million page views and more than 500,000 unique visitors per month. AWIN is a subscriber-based, online business tool that offers data, analytics, multimedia resources, expert insights, and news on the global A&D industry. Visit http://aviationweek.com/awin for more details.

About Aviation Week:

Aviation Week, part of The McGraw-Hill Companies, is the largest multimedia information and services provider to the global aviation, aerospace and defense industries, and includes http://AviationWeek.com, Aviation Week & Space Technology, Defense Technology International, Business & Commercial Aviation, Overhaul & Maintenance, ShowNews, Aviation Daily, Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, The Weekly of Business Aviation, Aviation Week Intelligence Network and MRO Links. The group also produces major events around the world.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies:

McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indices, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://mcgraw-hill.com.

SOURCE Aviation Week



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