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NASA Dryden Past Projects: Systems Research Aircraft (SRA)
August 14, 2009

F/A-18B Systems Research Aircraft in flight.F/A-18B Systems Research Aircraft in flight. Project Summary

The NASA Dryden Flight Research Center used an F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft as its Systems Research Aircraft (SRA). The aircraft was on loan from the U.S. Navy. The Systems Research Aircraft (SRA) was a dual-purpose facility benefiting commercial and military developments.

A primary objective was to identify and flight-test high leverage technologies beneficial to subsonic, supersonic, hypersonic, or space applications. The SRA flight test facility enabled government and industry to focus the integration, ground test, and flight validation of break-through technologies.

The intent of flight testing new technologies was to eliminate perceived or real technical barriers. It was anticipated that the development and flight test of advanced vehicles would use technologies that were originally flight validated with the SRA.


The SRA project helped ensure that new aerospace concepts are transferred quickly to the U.S. aerospace industry so they could be applied to technologies for commercial and military aircraft and space vehicles.

F/A-18B Systems Research Aircraft in flight.F/A-18B Systems Research Aircraft in flight.

Key technologies investigated aboard the F-18 SRA included advanced power-by-wire concepts, electric-powered actuators and mechanical systems, fly-by-light (fiber optic cable) systems, and advanced computer architectures. Future aircraft that might benefit are civil transports, next-generation general aviation and military aircraft. In addition, the project developed advanced flight-test techniques.

Project Objectives

  • Accelerate the transition of new aerospace technologies to commercial, military, and access to space vehicles.
  • Develop key technologies including vehicle management systems, advanced airdata systems, photonic based systems, more-electric aircraft concepts, and disciplinary flight test techniques.
  • Enable government and industry to streamline the development, integration, flight validation, and transition of breakthrough technologies at minimal cost.

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Page Last Updated: February 9th, 2014
Page Editor: Yvonne Gibbs