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When a body, such as a wing or a fuselage, passes through a fluid such as the air, a boundary layer of fluid attaches to the body and moves along with it. If this layer enters the air intake of a jet engine, it can affect performance.
In order to stop this boundary layer problem from happening, a splitter plate may be used to separate the boundary layer from the fast-moving free airflow and divert it away from the engine intake.
Hünecke, Klaus (1997). Jet Engines. England: Airlife. pp. 76–79. ISBN1853108340. ... the thickening of the boundary layer that develops at high angles-of-attack along the lower side of the fuselage forebody [in the F-16]. In order to prevent low-energy flow from entering the engine, the intake had to be offset from the fuselage to free it from the boundary layer, which uninterruptedly passes along the fuselage. The intake cowl [of the F-16] features a moderately blunt lower lip that transitions into a sharp leading-edge extension or splitter plate on the upper side (close to the fuselage).|access-date= requires |url= (help)