Air Force used this highly modified fighter for more than 20 years to test
new and award-winning ideas in flight control, electronic targeting, and
cockpit design. A one-of-a-kind aircraft, the Advanced Fighter
Technology Integration (AFTI)/F-16 made more than 700 flights in ten
different research programs between 1978 and 2000.
Photo from Dryden Flight Test Center
developed targeting lasers and computers, and new autopilot and
ground-avoidance systems allowed pilots to fly faster and lower while
seeking and attacking targets. Other AFTI advances included digital flight
controls, a voice-activated maneuvering system allowing the pilot to "point"
the aircraft in unusual flight attitudes, and touch-sensitive cockpit
The aircraft's last
project contributed to the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) design by reducing
aircraft weight and increasing maneuverability. One of this program's most
significant achievements was the first-ever use of all-electric "power by
wire" flight controls, with no hydraulic or mechanical backups to move the
aircraft's control surfaces. This milestone won the AFTI team the 2000
Aerospace Industry Award for Engineering, Maintenance and Modification.
(text by the NMUSAF staff)
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