Aussie scientist leads US team to pioneer F-35 weapon upgrade

written by Adam Thorn | November 17, 2020
F-35A Lightning II aircraft A35-015 arrives at No. 3 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown. (Defence)
F-35A Lightning II aircraft A35-015 arrives at No. 3 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown. (Defence)

An Australian scientist has led a US-based team to pioneer a new tool that allows for a greater range of weapons to be loaded on to F-35s, writes Stephen Kuper.

Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) engineer Regina Blyth headed the development of a ‘computational aerodynamics modelling capability’, which is now fully validated.

Blyth explained the importance of the research and development and collaborative program with the US Air Force, stating, “Especially within the context of limited availability of flight test aircraft, and with experimental data from Australian and US wind-tunnel facilities as yet unavailable, computational aerodynamics modelling tools have bridged the capability gap and resulted in a highly-valued Defence outcome.”

Advertisement
Advertisement

This outstanding contribution has resulted in significant impact on Defence outcomes – supporting the missions of both the Royal Australian Air Force and the US Air Force by providing valuable aircraft-weapons integration tools for certification of current and future weapons carried and deployed from this fifth-generation fighter jet.

Blyth explained the importance of the research and development and collaborative program with the US Air Force, stating, “Especially within the context of limited availability of flight test aircraft, and with experimental data from Australian and US wind-tunnel facilities as yet unavailable, computational aerodynamics modelling tools have bridged the capability gap and resulted in a highly-valued Defence outcome.”

Blyth is the first DSTG engineer to be embedded with the Computational Aeromechanics Team at the US Air Force’s SEEK EAGLE Office (AFSEO) – as part of this, Blyth took the initiative to identify and facilitate opportunities for data and tool exchange.

The research also aimed at reducing the need for expensive physical testing. Development of accurate, fit-for-purpose computational aerodynamics models will result in reduced time and cost of weapons clearance certification and increased operational envelopes over the life of the F-35A aircraft for both nations.

PROMOTED CONTENT

Adding to her commitment to STEM outreach, Blyth plans to resume volunteering her time through the CSIRO STEM Professionals in Schools program. Blyth is one of six female DSTG scientists and engineers who have applied to be part of the 2021-22 Superstars of STEM (#SuperstarsofSTEM) program.

More than 340 F-35s are operating today with partner nations, more than 700 pilots and 6,500 maintainers have been trained, and the F-35 fleet has surpassed more than 170,000 cumulative flight hours.

Over the coming years, Australia will purchase 72 of the advanced fifth-generation fighter aircraft as part of the $17 billion AIR 6000 Phase 2A/B program – which is aimed at replacing the ageing F/A-18A/B Classic Hornets that have been in service with the RAAF since 1985.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Each day, our subscribers are more informed with the right information.

SIGN UP to the Australian Aviation magazine for high-quality news and features for just $99.95 per year