In a typical aircraft carrier landing, a fighter pilot may make up to 300 adjustments with the stick and throttle over 18 seconds before hitting the deck and snagging the jet's tail hook just-so across one of four arresting wires.
It's one of the most dangerous and stressful jobs in the world because of that landing, but a revolutionary program that's as simple as a software upgrade will take a lot of the scrambling out of the final seconds of a combat mission.
It's called MAGIC CARPET, and — don't laugh — it stands for Maritime Augmented Guidance with Integrated Controls for Carrier Approach and Recovery Precision Enabling Technologies. What it does is put jets into a sort of automatic landing mode that guides the plane's trajectory to the deck and reduces the frantic adjustments out of the process.
It won't go in the legacy F/A-18A-D Hornets because the jet's mechanical systems won't respond to this specific software, but for F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers, adding this upgrade could not only make carrier landings safer, but increase efficiency to a point that pilots will need fewer traps to get qualified and stay proficient. As a result, aircraft will take less of a beating and pilots can focus more on missions.
It will also come standard in the F-35C Lightning II joint strike fighter when it goes operational in 2019. more
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