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Thursday, October 14, 2001 - 12:00 a.m. Pacific

JSF: a competition hovering in midair

Boeing and Lockheed designs for the Joint Strike Fighter both meet Pentagon specifications for cost and performance, and both have won praise in flight tests. One key difference is in the short-takeoff and vertical-landing (STOVL) systems developed for versions of the planes that will be used by the U.S. Marines and United Kingdom Royal Navy. Both companies consider their STOVL systems a selling point, though they are among many factors the Pentagon says it is considering.

GRAPHICLockheed Martin's X-35B

1. When the X-35B is in normal flight, air is funneled into the engine through air intakes on either side of the plane. The exhaust is directed out through a three-bearing swivel duct.

2. For vertical landings, the pilot opens air-intake doors on top of the aircraft, behind the cockpit, and exhaust doors in the aircraft's belly. One set of doors is above and below the lift fan, the second set directs air into the engine and a third set is under the swivel duct.

3. The main lift source is the lift fan, powered by a drive shaft connected to the engine. The second lift source is the three-bearing swivel duct. It is rotated 90 degrees, directing the exhaust downward.

4. The pilot uses roll ducts under the wings to keep the aircraft level. They can also be used to rotate the aircraft 360 degrees.
GRAPHIC

GRAPHICBoeing's X-32B

1. When the X-32B is in normal flight, air is funneled into the engine through the intake. The exhaust is directed out through the vectoring cruise nozzle, creating thrust.

2. For vertical landings, the pilot closes the vectoring cruise nozzle, redirecting the thrust through two main lift nozzles.

Photo from Boeing
Boeing's JSF X-32B first transitioned from wingborne flight to a hover at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md.
3. The aircraft is kept level by using roll, aft-pitch-yaw and forward pitch nozzles. These can also be used to rotate the aircraft 360 degrees.
GRAPHIC

MARK NOWLIN / THE SEATTLE TIMES



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