Originally published on Air Force Test Center
Edwards Air Force Base has long served as a cornerstone for aerospace innovation. Recently, the base’s 412th Maintenance Group hosted Exosonic, an aerospace startup, to collaborate on the development of a Next Generation Aerial Target under a Small Business Innovation Research contract.
“The amount of data we could gather was invaluable,” said Norris Tie, CEO of Exosonic, highlighting the significance of the visit to Edwards AFB. The Exosonic design team was particularly interested in evaluating existing aircraft platforms, mainly the F-16 and T-38, to incorporate their systems such as landing gear and external surface flight controls into the new NGAT design.
It’s crucial to understand the unique role of the NGAT. Unlike other fighter aircraft, the NGAT is designed to be shot down for weapons testing purposes. Therefore, while it’s essential to develop a fighter capable of mimicking enemy aircraft, the NGAT is not the platform for groundbreaking innovation. Instead, the focus is on cost-effectiveness and efficiency. By harvesting systems from near-end-of-life jets like the F-16 and T-38, Exosonic aims to keep costs low and expedite production, as these systems have already been engineered and proven effective.