An ordinary plane will be turned into a flying laboratory “Excalibur” for fighters

Aerospace company Leonardo and 2Excel are modifying a Boeing 757-200 commercial airliner. The conventional aircraft will become the Excalibur flying laboratory.

The Excalibur laboratory liner will be used to test the technology of the 6th generation Tempest fighter. It, in turn, is being developed by the international Tempest team for the RAF and the Italian Air Force.

Leonardo has awarded the latest in a series of contracts with British service company 2Excel to begin the next phase of the Tempest (Flight Test Aircraft, FTA) flight test program. As part of the program, the partners will completely renovate a commercial airliner, turning it into a flying laboratory of military aviation technology. Onboard the ship, scientists and engineers will test futuristic sensors and communications for a future combat air system that the UK and its international partners are developing for launch in 2035.

Named after the legendary sword of King Arthur, Excalibur will provide the real-world flight environment needed to test the electronics of the next generation of the Future Combat Air System.

The Excalibur is now capable of carrying a full payload of 28 tons, flying at an altitude of 12,800 meters with a cruising speed of Mach 0.8 (980 km / h) and a power reserve of up to eight hours. The nose of the aircraft will be modified to mimic the aerodynamics and structure of the Tempest.

In addition to working in the Tempest program, Excalibur will also be available as a control center for testing unmanned platforms.

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Alexandr Ivanov earned his Licentiate Engineer in Systems and Computer Engineering from the Free International University of Moldova. Since 2013, Alexandr has been working as a freelance web programmer.
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Alexandr Ivanov

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