Posted by lex, on June 1, 2006

For Systems Architecture, subject “Modeling” – in case you were curious (many pretty pictures for the bandwidth constrained to beetle their Luddite brows over):

In 1972, the US Air Force went to the aviation industry with Request for Proposals for a new, lightweight fighter design. Northrop contended with the YF-17, while General Dynamics competed with the ultimately successful F-16 design. Although not successful in the USAF’s lightweight fighter competition, the YF-17 had desirable characteristics satisfying the US Navy’s emergent requirement for a high volume, “low end” strike fighter to replace both the F-4 and A-7 aircraft, especially on the Navy’s smaller, conventional aircraft carriers – ships like USS Coral Sea and Midway – whose flight decks were not large enough to accommodate the “high end” fleet air defense aircraft, the F-14 Tomcat.

The translation of Northrop’s YF-17 fly-off demonstrator into the McDonnell Douglas (later, Boeing) FA-18, equipped for both the fighter and ground attack roles, as well as carrier suitability enhancements required the use of a number of models in the developmental process. The first model was the mental, or conceptual model – one airplane to replace two, an affordable, lightweight fighter that that could also perform ground attack (and eventually, sea control) missions, all of these capable of operating in the carrier environment. Significantly for the program as it evolved, that environment had at least as much to do with endurance and specific fuel consumption as it did with conventional carrier suitability requirements such as gross weight, approach speed and angle of attack, landing gear and arresting hook strengthening, provisions for catapult launch, etc. At this level, the mental model’s had a fairly high level of abstraction, notwithstanding the head start the YF-17/lightweight fighter fly-off had given the program – it’s primary purpose was to focus the design team on the gross performance characteristics required, as well as the cost constraints.


Editor’s Note: 


Lex had more to say here (there was a more link at the bottom) but the Wayback Machine didn’t capture it. We have a Homework II, his follow up to this the next day, and what we have here was from the Wayback Machine. 



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Filed under Naval Aviation, Naval History

2 responses to “Homework

  1. Pingback: Homework, part II | The Lexicans

  2. Pingback: A More Super Hornet | The Lexicans

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