NASA revealed in a recent news release that the X-59 Quiet Supersonic Transport (QueSST) under construction by the federal agency and Lockheed Martin will utilize pieces of several familiar military aircraft of the past.
According to the March 11 release, the agency conducted its so-called “shopping spree” at “The Boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base at Tucson, Arizona, which is home to over 4,400 aircraft that are in storage or retired from the US Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army or Coast Guard.
“No, we didn’t go there and have that used car lot type of approach where we got to pick and choose whatever we wanted,” Brian Griffin, the deputy operations lead for the X-59 project at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center, explained in the release.
He said that Air Force officials scoured the available aircraft databases at the base’s 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) for specific parts that matched NASA specifications.
“Once the paperwork was done, we worked with the people at AMARG to prepare and ship the hardware to us at Armstrong,” Griffin revealed.
The news release noted that the experimental jet will include landing gear from an F-16 Fighting Falcon supersonic multi-role fighter jet, a cockpit canopy from a T-38 Talon supersonic jet, a propulsion system from a U-2 high-altitude reconnaissance aircraft and a control stick from an F-117 stealth attack aircraft.
QueSST, which comes as part of the Low Boom Flight Demonstrator Project for quiet, commercial supersonic flights, is expected to be complete by the end of 2020, according to a February announcement from a representative of Lockheed Martin.
“The X-59 is designed so that, as it flies faster than sound, any sonic booms that reach the ground are so quiet they can barely be heard – if at all. That’s what’s new here,” Craig Nickol, NASA’s X-59 project manager, said in the March 11 release.
“So, while we’re pushing technology in terms of the X-59’s overall shape and configuration, at the same time we can take advantage of using reliable systems from aircraft we know or have experience with and install those.”