USAF Reveals Latest X-Plane: X-56A

USAF Reveals Latest X-Plane: X-56A | AVIATION WEEK.

Designed by Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works, the X-56A flying wing will also later be flown by NASA, and is an innovative modular unmanned air vehicle designed to test active flutter suppression and gust load alleviation. These technologies are considered vital for the successful development of the slender, lightweight, high-aspect-ratio wings that could be used by future transports as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance UAVs.

Formerly dubbed the Multi-Use Technology Testbed (MUTT), the UAV will test to the edge 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. If a test goes too far and a wing fails in flight, the X-56A is fitted with a fuselage-mounted ballistic parachute recovery system.

Of course, my first reaction was 56? Really? I guess the book I own about X-planes that stops at X-29 is kind of dated.

I wish they’d had a better picture of the new plane – the idea of wing replacement is intriguing. Also, thinking about flutter had me searching for this video.