Aerodynamic testing in wind tunnel with DARPA at Warton, Lancashire, UK
DARPA visit to Warton
A 3D printed titanium model was put through its paces to physically test its aerodynamic characteristics in BAE Systems’ world-class wind tunnel facilities, which can blow air up to speeds of Mach 3.8 – that’s nearly 3,000 miles per hour.

The completion of high-speed wind tunnel testing marks a crucial milestone in understanding the potential cost, weight and performance benefits that revolutionary flow control technologies could provide.

The digitally designed, full-scale, active flow control effector model, developed by BAE Systems engineers to push the design to the limit, is helping to determine how the technology can supplement or even replace conventional moveable surfaces to improve the performance of an aircraft. 
 
Our role on DARPA’s CRANE project has given us the opportunity to push technical boundaries to the edge of what’s possible. Our engineers have used new digital modelling prediction software and applied their experience in active flow control technologies, to complete significant testing at our wind tunnel facilities. This exciting milestone brings us closer to understanding how these flow control technologies could deliver operational enhancements for pilots and how digital engineering can reduce the time and cost of evaluating concepts and designs. Tom Fillingham, Senior Vice President – US Programmes, BAE Systems Air Sector
 

BAE Systems engineers used the US Army’s Engineer Research and Development Center supercomputer to test predictions in aerodynamic behaviour, generated by advanced Computer Fluid Dynamics software developed in-house. The wind tunnel testing has validated Terabytes of data, helping to mature significant aerodynamics research in Computer Fluid Dynamics.

Senior representatives from DARPA, the US Air Force, Air Force Research Laboratory, Naval Air Systems Command and the Royal Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office visited BAE Systems’ facilities in Lancashire during the trials to learn more about its decades of experience in X-plane (experimental planes) development, advanced manufacturing and robotics and digital engineering credentials. The RAF RCO has partnered with DARPA as a co-funder of BAE Systems’ work in support of the DARPA CRANE programme.
 
The high speed wind tunnel test forms part of the contract BAE Systems was awarded in 2021 to mature the design, integration and de-risking of CRANE to inform future phases of the programme. 

BAE Systems is committed to accelerating technology developments through increased investment in research and exploring innovative partnerships that can drive pace, affordability and increased flexibility to deliver the critical capabilities that customers need in the changing operating environment.
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Holly North
Head of Communications, US Programmes

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