Experimenting with futuristic airlifter designs, Air Force Research Lab engineers recently began testing Lockheed Martin’s jet-powered short takeoff and landing model at the National Full Scale Aerodynamics Complex, the world’s largest wind tunnel, at Moffett Field, Calif. The company’s model is roughly a quarter the size of the full-scale design and is powered by FJ-44 turbofans to enable realistic observation of the design’s stability and low-speed handling characteristics, according to AFRL officials. Utilizing a “hybrid powered-lift system,” this concept airlifter is envisioned for routine operations from short, unimproved airfields. Data gathered in the wind tunnel tests “will be analyzed to determine the technology’s applicability toward future vehicles,” according to AFRL. This work falls under the auspices of AFRL’s Speed Agile Concept Demonstration program. The lab has also funded maturation of a Boeing concept. (Wright-Patterson report by Holly Jordan) (See also earlier Arnold report by Philip Lorenz III and Airlift for the Future from the Daily Report archives.)
The Air Force will begin its 71st annual Operation Christmas Drop on Dec. 4. The weeklong exercise is a yearly tradition that delivers supplies such as food, fishing equipment, school books, and clothes to remote islands in the Pacific. It is the longest-running Department of Defense humanitarian mission.