Design Optimization of Fighter Aircraft,
MCDONNELL AIRCRAFT CO ST LOUIS MO
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The explosion of digital computation capability over the last 30 years has transformed the military aircraft design process, and provided unprecedented opportunity for true optimization of selected configurations prior to production commitment. To date, this revolution has worked primarily to reduce risk in aircraft development. Todays new aircraft flies as expected, without unforeseen handling quirks or instability, and exploration of most, if not all the flight envelope is possible on the first flight. Digital flight simulation, sophisticated wind tunnel test techniques, and performance, structural and thermal modeling all combine to elevate confidence in a new design to a very high level. So long as the rate of technology advancement and capability increase required in each succeeding new aircraft remain high, elevated confidence and reduced risk will continue to be the primary effects on high performance aircraft design. Another, as yet unrealized benefit is an enormous potential improvement in productivity and efficiency, and therefore cost, of the aircraft design and manufacturing process. This paper is intended to provide insight into the modern aircraft development process from the perspective of a designer and builder of high performance military fighters, McDonnell Aircraft Company. The processes and capabilities described are not achieved without growing pains and numerous lessons of experience.
- Attack and Fighter Aircraft