A U.S. Air Force test squadron hopes a device the size of a soccer ball could revolutionize the way data is collected in flight.
Here's What We Know
The device is called the Quick Reaction Instrumentation Package (QRIP). The 59th Air Combat Command Test Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada began equipping fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II combat fighters with such devices earlier this year. The QRIP is located in the aircraft's weapons compartment.
In an interview with Defense News on November 10, Squadron Commander Lt. Col. Nathan Malafa said that the U.S. Air Force wants to use QRIP on other aircraft. It is possible that in the future the device will be installed on every aircraft of the U.S. military.
The service constantly collects flight information from its aircraft. The data obtained are sent to contractors so that the companies can improve the software for the fighters.
Previously, instruments weighing more than 1,100 kilograms were used to record the data, which took up an entire gun compartment and cost $25 million, and sometimes you had to wait weeks or even months to get access to the data.
But, as you know, progress does not stand still. Advances in technology have made it possible to create a more compact system with similar functionality. QRIP is a device about the size of a soccer and weighing less than 4 kg. It screws onto the weapon compartment of the F-35 Lightning II and can record nearly 1 TB of data during flight. The cost per device is $230,000, which means it costs 100 times less than the old system, which weighs more than 1 ton.
QRIP is synchronized with the fighter computers. The system collects information on altitude, power, performance and malfunctions that occur during flight. QRIP is now installed on several U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II combat fighters. Using QRIP in real-world missions will allow aircraft to collect more flight data that cannot be obtained in a test environment.
The U.S. military has so far used QRIP only on the F-35, but the 59-xcdr intends to begin equipping the device first on test and then on the fifth-generation F-22 Raptor combat fighters in 2023. The system will be different from the one used on the Lightning II, and is already under development.
The U.S. Air Force is considering the creation of QRIP for the fourth generation fighters F-16 Fighting Falcon and attack aircraft A-10 Thunderbolt II. Moreover, specialists are studying the possibility of installing the device on the MQ-9 Reaper drones, B-52 Stratofortress and B-21 Raider nuclear bombers.
Source: Defense News