Swing Wings

It’s all done with computers (and good old-fashioned hydraulics).

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Though technology improved, the wing design remained basically the same, but Grumman replaced parts of the wing assembly with composite materials better able to handle heat and stress. The airplane’s role changed from chasing fast Soviet interceptors to supporting U.S. ground forces with bombing runs, and the Tomcat began showing its age.
“Back in the 1960s there was a need to vary the airplane’s geometry,” says Captain Don Gaddis of Naval Air Systems Command, a former Tomcat pilot and current program manager for its replacement, Northrop Grumman’s F/A-18 Hornet. On the F/A-18, “we’ve learned how to optimize the wing design so that the aircraft can carry out its functions” without changing geometry.

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