• VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': F-19 WIP Screen Shots

    VSKYLABS - Test Pilot F-19

    In today's post, we will be focusing mostly on the F-19 engines:

    The original late 80's Testors F-19 Stealth Fighter concept aircraft was deeply analyzed by VSKYLABS Aerospace Simulation experts, and was re-constructed bottom up, using the most advanced flight simulation software up to date: X-Plane 12.

    Reminder: X-Plane is not a combat simulation. The VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': F-19 Stealth Fighter project orientation is *Test-Flight* simulation of an experimental/concept jet fighter aircraft that allows to explore and challenge its design goals using X-Plane 12 advanced flight simulation environment (aerodynamics, physics, weather, systems, handling and performance, mission-oriented test flights and more!).

    VSKYLABS - Test Pilot F-19

    General aircraft specifications of the VSKYLABS F-19 are based on the original 80's concept specs (which also existed in the 87' MicroProse F-19 Steath Fighter simulations). However, following the thorough analysis and test flights process during development, a few modifications/additional systems were added to the basic design, allowing a more probable mission-capable characteristics.

    One example for such modification is the F-19 engines: The original F-19 concept aircraft was assumed to be powered by two non-after-burning F404-GE-100 engines. The F404 engine first flight, btw, was in the 'new' U.S. Navy's F/A-18 fighter/attack aircraft in November 1978. In real-life, the F404-GE-100 derivative was flown extensively during the Northrop F-20 Tigershark program (1982 - 1986), delivered 11,000 pounds of thrust dry and 17,000 pounds using afterburner, along with advanced digital electronic control and improved reliability.

    The selection of twin NON-after-burning F404-GE-100 engines in the F-19 80's concept was based on the requirement of reducing the heat signature of the stealth fighter. The airframe incorporated two semi-hidden thermal-efficient exhaust nozzles, "hidden" by the large vertical fins, and equipped with an airflow cooling system.

    VSKYLABS - Test Pilot F-19

    The thorough mission-oriented test flights of the VSKYLABS F-19 during development in X-Plane 12 lead to the decision of adding after-burner capability, to improve its maximum weight take-off performance, to allow a low-altitude deep penetration profiles with supersonic capability, and to increase survivability in case of detection or interception by enemy fighters.

    Following this decision, the VSKYLABS F-19 two non-after burning F404-GE-100 engines were replaced by two after-burning General Electric F414-GE-400 (these are powering the F/A-18E/F variants).

    The change of power-plant increased the dry thrust from ~11,000 pounds to ~13,000 pounds. Maximum thrust however increased from ~11,000 pounds to ~22,000 pounds...that is twice the power of the non-after-burning F404-GE-100 engines.

    Fuel-consumption wise, the F-19 airframe capability of carrying internal fuel is limited due to its size and shape, and using the afterburners extensively reduces its combat radius significantly. For this reason the use of afterburner power in the VSKYLABS F-19 is restricted-by-system, and to enable after-burners operation during flight - the pilot must "pass" through two guard switches (one for each engine).

    Some complementary information regarding the attached WIP screenshots:

    Weapons - Unlike the 87' MicroProse F-19, the VSKYLABS F-19 is not designated as a multi-role attack aircraft, and it can carry a very limited weapons-suit: Two AIM-120 AMRAMM Air to Air missiles, carried in two separate forward weapon bays, and a single AGM-158 JASSM (cruise missile) carried in the central belly weapon bay.

    The VSKYLABS F-19, like the F-117A Stealth Fighter, does not carry guns nor heat-seeking missiles for close-air combat/self defense. The idea behind the weapons selection in the VSKYLABS F-19 was to adapt the F-117A operational concept (no air-to-air capability, limited air to ground capability for pin-point targeting accuracy), and to fall in line with the plausible capability of carrying payloads in the F-19 airframe (mass and volume).

    The two AIM-120 missiles are intended for intercepting enemy AWACS aircraft (with BVR capability), and the single AGM-158 low signature cruise missile is intended for deep penetration, pin-point accuracy targeting.

    External fuel-tanks - Like the modern usage of non-stealthy external fuel tanks in stealth fighters (as seen in the F-35/F-22), the VSKYLABS F-19 is capable of carrying two external fuel tanks, extending its combat radius and allowing certain 'special mission' profiles. These are drop-tanks and can be dropped when needed (to reduce drag, to reduce radar signature, to increase maneuverability in case of 'trouble' etc...). The aircraft is also capable of air-refueling.

    Landing gear - The F-19 is a carrier capable aircraft. Noticeable is the tail-hook and the carrier-capable landing gears which are designed following the NAVY carrier based F-18 aircraft landing gears. Using the F-18 landing gears design in the F-19 was part of the original late 80's concept (as well as the F-18 engines).

    Leading edge slats - Shown extracted in one of the screenshots. The original F-19 concept did not incorporate leading edge slats. These were implemented into the VSKYLABS F-19 airframe as part of deeper exploration of high angle-of-attack performance and aircraft maneuverability once the thrust to weight ratio exceeded more than 1:1 with the use of after burners. A fascinating insight was with regards to the small-span elevator flap - where the elevator flap, which is positioned close and straight in line with the exhaust nozzles, acted as a thrust vectoring vane at high power settings. This configuration allows flying the F-19 at high angle of attack during certain maneuvers, and the leading edge slats were implemented to explore these flight envelope regimes. They are not required for takeoff or landing.

    Cockpit screenshots - By concept, the VSKYLABS F-19 cockpit design and general systems are based on the F-18 aircraft, which shares a lot in common with the original F-19 80's concept. The VSKYLABS F-19 is a fully featured aircraft simulation, includes all aircraft systems such as pressurization, fuel, oxygen, electrical, pneumatic, hydraulics, engine management, avionics and so forth. Some of the systems are similar/identical to the ones to be found in the F-18 (electrical, pressurization, oxygen, hydraulics...), and some are unique, designed specifically for the F-19 (fuel system, controls, avionics, and other). The result is a highly plausible aircraft design that is being operated as a conventional modern jet-fighter.

    Due to the unique flight model aspects and other simulation related aspects, the VSKYLABS 'Test-Pilot': F-19 Stealth Fighter project is being developed for X-Plane 12, and will be released exclusively for X-Plane 12.

    The project is in advanced development stages and is aimed to be released as soon as possible after upcoming X-Plane 12 will be released.


    1. b52bob's Avatar
      b52bob -
      Looking forward to this one. Bring it on along with XP-12. We're waiting!
    1. clankilp's Avatar
      clankilp -
      VSL does some very nice work on uncommon aircraft - I have a few of their models already.

      I'll get this for nostalgic reasons when it comes out, but since there's obviously no radar on this aircraft (compare to shots of F-22 and F-35), it kinda bugs me that it's modeled with AMRAAMs, which basically require a fighter with radar to be employed.

      Oh, well - I just want to fly it, not fight it - that's what DCS World is for .
    1. maddogken's Avatar
      maddogken -
      Interesting. can't for X-Plane 12 and the F-19 to come out. Love experimental aircraft. I was stationed at NAS Lemoore and worked at OMD Transit Line. It was at night when the first F-18 came to Lemoore from St. Louis, Mo. A co-worker got to direct the aircraft in. Then we had to tow the F-18 into the OMD hanger and rope it off. Compared to A-7's, the station UH-1N SAR helo's and S-2's the aircraft and the cockpit looked like something out of science fiction. Trivia: In the movie "Towering Inferno" with Steve McQueen, one of the Lemoore SAR helo's was in the movie. Not sure if that helo was one of the ones that we work with.
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