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The increasing use of composites for primary structural applications in advanced aircraft has necessitated the development of environmental protective systems. Since lightning strikes to boron/epoxy structural systems can cause catastrophic damage, the Air Force Materials Laboratory initiated a program 2 to evaluate and optimize a low-weight lightning protection system to protect boron/epoxy composite, full-depth honeycomb structure for advanced fighter aircraft. This paper summarizes the studies and major achievements of this program and includes results of the weight optimization studies and demonstration tests on large subcomponent beams (simulating advanced fighter empennage structure) and a flight-worthy composite component.
composite materials, boron, graphite, lightning protection, honeycomb structures, residual stress, fatigue strength at N cycles, vulnerability, epoxy resins
McDonnell Aircraft Company, St. Louis, Mo.