Under study for six years, Lockheed Martin’s Hybrid Wing Body (HWB) concept is designed to carry all of the outsize cargo now airlifted the Lockheed C-5 while burning 70% less fuel than the Boeing C-17. Over-wing nacelles make it easier to install large-diameter, fuel-efficient very-high-bypass engines.
The HWB configuration combines a blended wing and forebody for increased aerodynamic and structural efficiency with a conventional aft fuselage and tail, which maintains compatibility with existing airlift infrastructure and operations, including airdropping paratroops.
The HWB retains a circular pressurized fuselage, with additional unpressurized cargo bays in the inboard wing sections that are accessed from the main cargo hold. This hybrid design allows conventional cargo loading and unloading equipment and procedures to used.
Wind-tunnel tests confirm over-wing nacelles reduce drag by 5% compared with conventional under-wing engines. Retaining after fuselage and tail incurs less than a 5% penalty, Lockheed says, and provides robust flight control compared with a pure blended wing-body configuration.
In addition to the airlifter configuration, Lockheed is studying a multi-role tanker/transport variant of the HWB that would be 15% more fuel-efficient than the Boeing KC-46A. The design would allow a single aircraft type to replace today’s separate airlift and tanker fleets, the company argues.
Tests of a 4%-scale semi-span model in the National Transonic Facility at NASA Langley Research Center have validated the predicted aerodynamic efficiency of the HWB with over-wing nacelles, says Lockheed. Low-speed testing of the high-lift system was also accomplished.
Lockheed plans to fly a 4%-scale unmanned version the HWB early in 2016, and is funded by AFRL to study a large-scale manned demonstrator to fly around 2020. To reduce cost, this could be based on a business jet, possible a Gulfstream V, fitted with a new wing and forebody fairing.
If pursued, Lockheed Martin’s HWB airlifter could enter service around 2035. Under NASA contract, the company is also studying an HWB commercial freighter, from 747- down to 757-size, that could enter service in the same timeframe – raising the potential for dual-use development.
With wind-tunnel tests confirming the expected efficiency benefits of Lockheed Martin's Hybrid Wing Body airlifter, Aviation Week takes a closer look at the latest transport design.
Well don't just talk about it; Build It!
Fingers crossed, I would make the transition over to LMT if they open their commercial airplanes division again.
Lockheed has said that they will never return to the commercial market due to "barriers to entry". Meanwhile, companies in Canada an Brasil have raised themselves up and sold over 1000 units.
Military transports will never match the numbers that commercial aircraft will. Lockheed will not stay on top forever if they keep ceding business to their rivals.
I don't want my tax dollars going into a lemon like this one.
If it was Boeing's project on a fixed-cost contract base like the KC-46 then yea sure, but Lockheed Martin, are you crazy?
This project fails big time not because of design, but because of the company behind it.
^ Nice conjecturous nonsense.
Am I the only one who thinks that Kelly Johnson must be turning in his grave?
Kelly Johnson also thought the C-130 would bankrupt the company.
Not everyone is right about everything all the time.
Twenty years to design and build a plane? Call it procrastination ++. Try using current technology and a 2 year completion target.
What non-current technology is it using? Shape isn't a technology. Pressure hull still circular cross section. At this rate the generation after this one will go into service just as the new graduates who started the design work retire!
Perhaps they're making the common mistake of confusing Powerpoint slides with engineering. ;)
I worked with the design team of the YC-15 prototype of the C-17 in 1972. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Archives: "January 18, 1995 - The Air Force declared its first squadron of C-17s operational Tuesday, about 19 months after the transport planes began arriving at Charleston Air Force Base."
Kelly Johnson created many innovative plan-forms. The P-38, F-94, U-2, SR-71 and F-104 didn't look like any preceding aircraft. I think he would approve.
What characterizes this it seems to me, are giant fillets (a 1930's idea), and engines positioned in the same place most all business jets mount them except they are attached to the wing instead of the fuselage (like the Honda Jet). All very sensible but hardly revolutionary yet it will take decades to get it into the air. Maybe we were better off in the slide rule era. At least we got 'em flying then.
I think you're right. Back in the slide rule days we prototyped and really understood the physics involved. You couldn't just numerically integrate your way out of a problem. Today computers have become a crutch, and we've become so risk averse that we don't just build and learn quickly. Look at Orion: $8BB for a friggin' capsule, i.e. a tapered aluminum can.
The other thing about slide rules is that by their nature they almost enforced an acceptance of good enough vs. perfect. Computers tend to do the opposite.
20 year to make it... there is something broken in the system.
More Lockheed PowerPoint Perfection to Siphon YOUR tax dollars in grants.
This must have come straight from the Skunk Works... and it damn well stinks all right...
Looks a lot like Boeing's Blended-Wing-Body design of the 1990s - 20 years to copy someone else's idea.
So much talk, so little action....
Another example of Texas born Vincent Burnelli's visionary idea of using the plane's body to do much of the work in carrying cargo or passengers. See his work here... burnelliaircraft dot com He patented his first Lifting Fuselage plane of 1921 and continued building and designing futuristic planes until his death in 1964 including the original 1951 BWB design copied in the 90's. Way ahead of his time. Still, these won't be built for decades if ever. I'm workin' on it.
Agree. 20 years to flight is ridiculous.
Why not make a commercial passenger airliner as well. It's a multi billion dollar business.
What? Well, the Chinese and Russians are saying a big thank you Yankee for our new design, which will be ready in 2022!
Question: if this is such a radical and revolutionary design, WHY advertise it???
I am constantly amazed at what the defense industry publishes: Its as though they are either rooting for our adversaries or are simply stupendously ignorant. Go figure.
Then they essentially say "oh, never mind, it's 20 years off anyway".
I don't think so. Unlike the typical commercial airliner configuration where you can work on the wings or tail separately, the BWB integrates everything together greatly complicating design. If you optimise the wing or tail or nose them you have to re-optimise everything else again. Plus they have a much narrower c of g range which would affect safety. Hence why it has not been done yet...
Blended wing body and above wing engines are two good ideas. I wonder how Airbus and Boeing will apply them to families of passenger airliners, A320 size and up.
It won't be economically possible to meet these performance figures. This project depends on weight saying by puting part of the load on blended wing and the engines being able to suck all the strong vortices generated by those thick wings. Current turbofans can't deal with the asymmetrical forces generated on the low pressure fan. It would be necessary to develop new fan with stronger axis (and heavier) or put the low pressure fan in a gimbaled joint to ease the forces on the core. This alone would at least a decade of engine development. I can't have only two engines, because on a failure it would no engine to suck the vortices and the asymmetrical drag would render the plane out of control.
Similar to the blended wing nasa airliner pork project. They can say it is more aero and structurally efficient but it probably is not true, just as they used to say that about canards to get pork money. Flying wings do not win gliding contests, they use skinny wings and tails as far back as you can get. A concentrated conventional wing box takes the concentrated loads of landing gear, fuel tankage, engine pylons, tail/pressure vessel attachment. If this magazine could present carreer opportunities such as wind power or anything other than working in a cubicle to pay the mortgage and kids college so you kid can work on useless government projects? New electronics/engines hung quickly on boneyard airframes with non integrated electronics is all we really need to maintain our overwhelming military superiority.
Sure beats the DC (crazy) 8's I used to work on in freight.
The finest example of first generation airliner.
Great looking proposal. Reminds me a bit of Thunderbird 2! Making a cargo version of the blended wing design in the next few years first would make a excellent way to transition from todays tube design of jets to alternative shapes.
For air freight the fuel usage is a secondary concern because freighters are flying far less than airline jets. Far more important is the upfront aircraft price. That is why the 767-300 is still ordered by FedEx and others: it is cheap.
getting closer to a discoid shape all the time?
Run, not walk, away from it since it is guaranteed to overrun the budget since it is a Lockheed Martin project.
When was the last time Lockheed Martin delivered anything on budget and on time? Haven't you had enough with your tax money being fleeced by Lockheed Martin?
I would say no even if Lockheed Martin offered to build a Faster-Than-Light interstellar starship.
It's only kid's dream and as long that they will advertise those kind of sketches they will fail. Those kind of project you unplug from internet and design it in small team and in a single remote place. The Kelly's way will remain the best way to design and manufacture decent birds.
They built a very large section of this in Long Beach, all carbon fiber, it was shipped out earlier this year for testing.
LOGIN | FAQs | CONTACT US
By clicking below, I acknowledge and agree to Penton's Terms of Service
and to Penton's use of my contact information to communicate with me about Penton's or its third-party
partners' products, services, events and research opportunities. Penton's use of the information I
Click to view more Aviation, Aerospace and Defense special topics.
Sponsored Introduction Continue on to (or wait seconds) ×