F/A-18 #853

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Jim Smolka
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Eric Becker
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Mariaelena A. Nichols
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F/A-18 #853

F-18 taking off

NASA's F-18 #853 is a former Navy F/A-18A fighter plane modified by Armstrong technicians that now performs research duties. This workhorse in the NASA fleet demonstrates its versatility by serving in many capacities:

  • Tier 1-Testbed: Vehicle that is used to integrate experiments (test fixtures, sensors, subsystems) that are minimally intrusive to flight control systems. "The vehicle carries the experiment."
    • Fiber Optic Wing Shape Sensor; flight research phase
  • Tier 2 -Disciplinary / System Research Aircraft: Vehicle that is used to focus the validation of discipline specific or system (multi-disciplinary) specific research elements that require extensive modification to the flight control systems, vehicle structure, and vehicle operation. "The vehicle is highly modified by the experiment."
    • Adaptive Flight Controls
  • Tier 3 - Research Aircraft: Vehicles that are developed or extensively modified to validate new vehicle configurations, integrated vehicle designs, and high-performance research objectives. "The vehicle is the experiment."
    • X-53 Active Aeroelastic Wing (F-18 TN 853)
Page Last Updated: March 13th, 2014
Page Editor: Monroe Conner