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The US Air Force has awarded a contract to Northrop to provide a phase II data rate communications upgrade for the aircraft structural integrity programme (ASIP).

The USAF announced the ASIP programme to identify critical and unanticipated, in-flight fatigue failures of in-service aircraft, according to

The main focus of the programme will be to monitor the structural integrity of USAF aircraft, including B-2 and B-52 bombers, C-17 transport aircraft, E-8C surveillance aircraft, C-5 transport aircraft, F-15 fighters, A-10 close air support aircraft and the F-16 fighter.

The USAF will use the ASIP as a management tool to safely manage its fleet from initial operating capability through the design service goal and beyond.

The ASIP uses linear elastic fracture mechanics (LEFM) as the primary analysis tool to determine the fatigue life of a structural component in aircraft.

The phase II data rate communications upgrade will identify the nine LEFM parameters that affect several element of the fatigue life.

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The fatigue life includes initial flaw assumption, boundary correction factor, load interaction models, crack growth rate data, stress intensity factor, threshold stress intensity factor, yield stress and critical stress intensity factor.

The 303 AESG/SYK at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, which manages the contract, has already obligated $2m out of the total $8.2m modernisation contract to Northrop.