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AIAA 2006-1264

44th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit


9 - 12 January 2006, Reno, Nevada

UCAV Configuration & Performance Trade-Offs

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Stuart J. Woolvin*
Defence Science & Technology Laboratory, Farnborough, GU14 0LX, UK
This paper presents a study of UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) configuration
and performance trade-offs. UCAVs may form part of the future UK strike capability,
because they offer the potential for increased survivability in high-threat environments and
reduced through-life costs. This study was undertaken by Dstl in order to improve MODs
understanding of the UCAV design space, and inform the requirements definition process.
The vehicles in this study are tail-less flying-wings with a highly-integrated propulsion
system incorporating a single unreheated turbofan. Three wing planform shapes have been
assessed, with leading edge sweep angles of 30, 47 and 60deg, and planform Aspect Ratios of
6.7, 3.8 and 2.0 respectively. Families of UCAVs were optimally-sized for minimum Basic
Mass Empty using Dstls air vehicle Conceptual Design and Optimisation methodology,
which estimates the aerodynamics, mass and propulsive performance as the vehicle is being
sized. A validation process was undertaken to ensure that the aerodynamic and mass
methods could be used with reasonable confidence for the configurations studied. Families
of UCAVs were sized for a range of mission radius requirements extending from a value
typical of current UK strike aircraft, through to approximately three times as far. Key
performance requirements, such as mission radius and take-off distance, were seen to drive
the UCAV designs in conjunction with packaging requirements. The sensitivity of vehicle
mass to two separate performance requirements was investigated. The study concludes that
UCAV size can be highly sensitive to performance requirements and that well-balanced
requirements are essential in order to realise the benefits of planforms having greater
aerodynamic efficiency.

I. Abbreviations
BME
CDO
CFD
Dstl
ISA
MOD
SEP
TTCP
UCAV

=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=

Basic Mass Empty


Conceptual Design & Optimisation
Computational Fluid Dynamics
Defence Science & Technology Laboratory
International Standard Atmosphere
Ministry of Defence
Specific Excess Power
The Technical Cooperation Program
Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle

II. Nomenclature
CD
CL
D
K1,K2
M
TN
VT
W

=
=
=
=
=
=
=
=

Drag coefficient (subscript 0=zero-lift, i=lift-dependent)


Lift coefficient (subscript crit=critical, max=maximum)
Total drag
Gradients of relationship between lift-dependent drag and the square of lift coefficient
Mach number
Net installed thrust
True airspeed
Weight

Performance Engineer, Air & Weapon Systems Department. Member AIAA.


1
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Copyright 2006 by British Crown. Published with the permission of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory on behalf of the Controller of HMSO. Published by the American Institute

III. Introduction

his paper presents an investigation of UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle) configuration and performance
trade-offs. UCAVs may form part of the future UK deep strike capability, and are expected to have several
advantages compared to alternative manned combat aircraft, including an ability to operate in highly-threatened
environments without risk to life, and reduced through-life costs. This work is part of a wider UCAV trade-off
study, which has been undertaken by Dstl (the UK MODs Defence Science & Technology Laboratory), that will
contribute to MODs understanding of the design space and key performance requirements for UCAVs. In broad
terms this study has assumed a common UCAV conceptual layout, and examined the impact of different wing
planform shapes and sensitivity to performance requirements. This study is one of a series of conceptual design
studies being undertaken by Dstl, and future studies may well address other UCAV layout options.

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IV. General Configuration Description


The UCAV configurations considered in this study represent possible subsonic runway-launched deep
strike/reconnaissance aircraft for entry into service in the 2020+ time frame. The UCAVs are tail-less flying wings,
powered by a single un-reheated turbofan engine, situated on the vehicle centre-line. A payload of 2 medium-size
air-ground stores is carried internally in bays to either side of the engine. Figure 1 illustrates the general features of
the UCAVs in this study (the 47deg wing planform shown is one from this study). It should be noted that, although
the vehicles in this study have the general layout shown in Figure 1, the design methodology used has some freedom
to vary the position of the vehicle contents to meet various packaging constraints, such as obtaining a reasonable CG
location, and positioning the undercarriage.

Note: the engine and


installation as drawn are
not accurately scaled.
Figure 1: Vehicle layout assumed for UCAV configurations in this study; wing planform is 47deg
The objective of this study was to understand the impact of differing wing planforms and the sensitivity to
setting performance requirements at different levels. Three different wing planform shapes are considered in this
study, as summarised in Table 1, having leading edge wing sweep angles of 30deg, 47deg and 60deg, and planform
Aspect Ratios of 6.7, 3.8 and 2.0 respectively. All three feature wing sweep changes or cranks on the wing
trailing-edge. Air vehicle conceptual designs with these planforms have been optimally-sized using the Dstls air
vehicle Conceptual Design and Optimisation (CDO) program, in accordance with a set of pre-defined air vehicle
performance requirements. The planform sweep parameters in Table 1 were held constant; therefore the wing areas
could be scaled according to the needs of the design/optimisation process while maintaining constant planform
Aspect Ratio.

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Planform

Sweep Angles ()
Leading
Trailing
Edge
edge

30deg

+30

+/-30

6.7

47deg

+47

+/-30, -47

3.8

60deg

+60

+/-40

2.0

Gross
Planform
Aspect Ratio

Table 1: Summary of geometric parameters for the three planforms studied

V. Conceptual Design & Optimisation Methodology


The UCAV conceptual designs in this study were produced using the Dstl Conceptual Design & Optimisation
(CDO) methodology, which is implemented in a computer program. Various different air vehicle CDO programs
have been used by Dstl, and its predecessor organisations, for over 20 years. Most of the current CDO program was
developed under MOD funding during this period, and several MOD studies investigating manned combat aircraft
have been reported [1-3]. The current situation is that Dstl is a key-user of the air vehicle CDO program, and the
program is developed and maintained by QinetiQ (a part MOD-owned private company), who recently outlined
some planned CDO developments [4].
The MOD has a need for a CDO capability in order to produce rapid and credible air vehicle conceptual designs
on a consistent basis for a wide range of assessments, objective comparisons and trade-studies. In parallel with this,
the MOD sponsors aircraft studies within UK industry to produce a limited number of vehicle design points in much
greater detail. These enable deeper understanding, but they are expensive, and also they do not particularly assist
the MOD in gaining its own technical insight and understanding. The CDO program used within Dstl is ideal for
this purpose, as it is rapid, fairly flexible and can generate concepts to a reasonable level of fidelity for first-order
studies. It is important to emphasise that this does not replace the more detailed industry studies, but can
supplement them, and uses the output from industry studies in order to inform the assumptions and validate results.
The CDO program consists of two parts: design synthesis routines, and the RQPMIN general-purpose numerical
optimiser, for problems that can be formulated in terms of variables and constraints [5]. These two components
operate together to generate optimised conceptual design solutions. In terms of useful air vehicle designs it is
essential that the resulting aircraft meet three criteria: the aircraft must meet a set of packaging constraints (which
ensure that the vehicle is broadly a sensible design), secondly they must satisfy user-specified performance criteria,
and thirdly they must have a minimum Basic Mass Empty (BME). BME is used as the figure of merit which is
minimised in the conceptual design process because, at a given technology level, BME is seen as having a direct
influence on vehicle procurement cost. Ideally the CDO program would adopt Through Life Cost as the figure of
merit to be minimised, and a UK research programme is underway to develop methods that may soon allow this [6].
However, at present, these are judged to be too immature for this application.
Figure 2 shows how the process works - initially the design synthesis takes a set of start values for the design
variables. These variables define the shape and size of the solution aircraft. The design synthesis then carries out an
estimate of the vehicles mass, flight performance, range capability etc. It is unlikely that the initial solution will
satisfy all of the packaging and performance constraints, and also be at a minimum BME, therefore RQPMIN
adjusts the values of the design variables towards a more satisfactory solution. Once the RQPMIN optimiser is
satisfied that the constraints are met, and the design is at a minimum BME, the program outputs the resulting UCAV
design. Typically this process requires several hundred iterations, and runs in a few minutes on a PC.

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Design constants & constraints.


Performance requirements.
Start values of Design Variables

Inputs

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Synthesise geometry, mass,


aerodynamics, scale engine
performance.
Evaluate vehicle performance.

Meets packaging &


performance
constraints, &
minimum BME?

Change values
of Design
Variables

No

= Optimiser
(RQPMIN)

Yes
Design summary of solution vehicle,
and performance capability.
Final values of Design Variables

= Design
synthesis routines

Outputs

Figure 2: Flowchart showing operation of CDO program

VI. Validation of Conceptual Design Methods


As outlined above the design synthesis routines within the air vehicle CDO program contain methods for
estimating the aerodynamics and mass which, together with scaled installed thrust and fuel flow, allow the air
vehicle performance of the conceptual design to be predicted - calculations that are repeated at each iteration of the
CDO process (at present stability and control derivatives are not estimated). These estimates of aerodynamics and
mass require validation if the CDO program is to be used with confidence for the class of aircraft investigated in this
study. In respect of vehicle propulsion it should be explained that the CDO program does not itself model the thrust
and fuel flow of the engine, instead it is supplied with a propulsion dataset, which is essentially a look-up table of
thrust and fuel flow as functions of flight condition and throttle setting, which can then be scaled appropriately.
The validation process consisted of defining three test cases for each of the three planforms considered. These
were three externally-sourced UCAV preliminary designs, one each for 30deg, 47deg and 60deg, designed in more
detail than could be attempted by Dstl using the CDO program. Aerodynamic data for all three test cases was
supplied by QinetiQ. To date only the 47deg test case, known as 1303, has been published [7]. 1303 was originally
developed by US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), and was further studied under the governmentgovernment TTCP (The Technical Cooperation Program), including low-speed wind-tunnel tests in the QinetiQ
Farnborough 5m low-speed wind-tunnel [8]. Dstl used the CDO program to model each of the three test cases as
accurately as possible, using the same vehicle geometry, design assumptions and performance requirements, in order
to obtain representative estimates of vehicle aerodynamics and mass. These could then be compared with the
independent design data to assess the validity of the CDO-derived estimates.
A. Aerodynamic Validation
The CDO program contains first-order aerodynamic methods for the estimation of lift and drag. These methods
are based on some established semi-empirical methods applicable to combat aircraft aerodynamics, described in the
user-manual of an earlier version of the CDO program [9]. However the three cranked wing planforms considered
here lie on the margins of the original database of aerodynamic data used for developing these methods, therefore it
was necessary to check the estimated lift and drag against data gathered from wind-tunnel and CFD (Computational
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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

Fluid Dynamics) studies and apply corrections where appropriate, for example from the 1303 wind-tunnel data [8].
The CDO program estimates lift-curve-slope (and hence lift coefficient) as a function of wing geometry utilising a
detailed curve fit obtained from CFD analysis. The drag of the vehicle is considered to be the sum of drag at zerolift (i.e. notionally zero incidence), CD0, and lift-dependent drag, CDi. The lift dependent drag is based around the
assumption of a K1, K2 relationship with lift, as illustrated in Figure 4 below:

Total Drag
Coefficient, CD

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slope = K2

slope = K1

CLCLcrit : CDi=K1CL2

Equation (1)

CLcrit<CLCLmax : CDi=K1CLcrit2 +K2(CL2CLcrit2)

Equation (2)

CDi
CD0
CLcrit
2

(Lift Coefficient) ,

CLmax
CL2

Figure 4: Drag approximation used within the conceptual design program


It can be seen that the lift-dependent drag coefficient (CDi) is assumed to increase linearly with the square of lift
coefficient, at a gradient which steepens at the critical lift coefficient (CLcrit), up to the maximum usable lift
coefficient (CLmax), as shown in Equations (1) and (2). The CDO program estimates the value of CD0 and K1 as a
function of the wing geometry, but the other parameters involved, namely CLcrit, CLmax and K2, are much more
difficult to estimate at the conceptual design stage, therefore the wind-tunnel/CFD aerodynamic data was used to
derive values of these parameters for the three planforms 30deg, 47deg and 60deg. These parameters were then
maintained for all the subsequent UCAVs designed within each of the three planform families.
Figure 5 compares aerodynamic characteristics for the three families of vehicles as designed by the CDO
program and as supplied by QinetiQ, and derived from wind-tunnel/CFD studies. The chart shows trimmed
Lift/Drag ratio versus trimmed Lift coefficient, shown at a typical cruise Mach number and altitude. It can be seen
that the peak Lift/Drag ratio of the 30deg planform is approximately 60% greater than 60deg. As the wing sweep
angle is reduced from 60deg through to 30deg, the Aspect Ratio increases significantly, the lift-dependent drag falls,
and therefore the peak Lift/Drag ratio increases. The chart shows that 30deg offers greater aerodynamic efficiency,
which can translate into reduced cruise fuel burn. The chart also compares the estimates from wind-tunnel/CFD
study and the semi-empirical CDO estimates. Although total Lift/Drag ratio clearly encapsulates several possible
sources of discrepancy, a much more detailed comparison was undertaken, and this showed that the level of
agreement was good, although as noted above several of the lift-dependent drag parameters were pre-set. For
parameters that the CDO program does estimate, which are lift-curve-slope, zero-lift drag and K1 there was
considered to be no need to correct the estimates obtained from the CDO methods.

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1.0

Solid lines = wind-tunnel/CFD estimates


Dashed lines = Dstl CDO estimates

30deg

0.9

Trimmed Normalised Lift/Drag

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0.8
0.7
47deg

0.6
0.5
60deg

0.4
0.3
0.2
0.1
0.0
0.00

0.05

0.10

0.15

0.20

0.25

0.30

0.35

0.40

0.45

0.50

Lift Coefficient, CL

Figure 5: Variation of lift/drag ratio with lift coefficient for three wing planforms, comparing Dstl semiempirical estimates with wind-tunnel/CFD data.

B. Mass validation
The CDO program contains first-order methods capable of predicting the structural mass of the wing and body of
the UCAV, and systems masses, such as electrics, hydraulics and flight controls.
The structural mass estimation methods are supplied by UK Industry, and take conventional aluminium structure
as the baseline, to which technology factors can be applied to account for alternative materials. Compared with the
aerodynamic validation process, where a significant quantity of reliable lift and drag data was available, data for
UCAV structural and systems masses is very sparse indeed. The three families of UCAV configuration in this study
have essentially very similar centre-body layouts (packaging the propulsion system, weapons bays, undercarriage
and other systems). Therefore to a first-order it was considered that the significant structural mass differences
would in the main arise from the differing masses of the wing structural boxes for the three planforms. As
mentioned above, the existing semi-empirical wing mass prediction methods were not directly applicable to the class
of cranked-wing planforms considered in this study, and in fact, as an interim measure it was necessary to define
an equivalent uncranked wing for mass estimation purposes. To take account of the wing crank that is present in
each of the three planforms considered here, further calculations were made to assess the likely mass difference
between equivalent and cranked wings, and this provided the basis for a correction to the existing wing mass
prediction formulae.
In respect of systems masses, there was also little validation data available. The CDO program contains methods
for estimating systems masses; however these methods are based on a database that is centred on UK combat aircraft
of the 1970/80s-era. Compared with these types, a UCAV is expected to employ significantly more electrical
actuation, and with much reduced dependence on hydraulics. In this study these existing methods were not used,
and instead the values of systems mass were fixed at values derived from more recent Industry design studies. From
this discussion it can be seen that the level of validation that was possible for structural and systems mass was less
than for the aerodynamics. Therefore improved mass estimation is a key priority for UK defence research.

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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

VII. Design Assumptions & Performance Requirements

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A. Technology Assumptions
The validation process outlined above applied to the aerodynamic and mass estimates produced by the program
provided parameters and settings to enable the methods to be applied to each of the three UCAV planforms
adopted in this study. Notwithstanding the limitations outlined above, it was considered that the aerodynamic and
mass methods could be used with confidence for first-order conceptual design trade-off studies. As well as the
aerodynamic and mass parameters outlined above, there is provision within the methods to account for further
benefits due to assumed technology enhancements. In respect of the structural mass, it was assumed that the wing
and fuselage structure would make significant use of composites, and would therefore be ~15% lighter than an allaluminium structure. With the aerodynamics it was decided not to assume benefits from use of advanced dragreducing technology, such as that arising from significant amounts of wing laminar flow.
B. Propulsion Assumptions
As mentioned above, the CDO program uses a propulsion dataset which provides the program with installed
thrust and fuel flow as a function of flight Mach, altitude and throttle setting at a Reference scale. The engine cycle
used is fixed, but the engine is fully-scalable, and may be scaled up or down according to the needs of the
optimiser. As engine scale is varied, the physical size and mass of the engine and propulsion installation change
accordingly. An engine of moderate Bypass Ratio was assumed, together with cycle temperatures that
approximate a current state-of-the-art level of technology consistent with that employed in UK combat aircraft
expected to be in-service by 2020. In general the UCAV configurations that are represented in this study tend to
have propulsion systems that are highly-integrated within the vehicle body, and they are also rather long and heavy.
The CDO program itself does not model the propulsion system in detail, but represents its size, mass and
performance. The minimum length of the propulsion system is constrained to be a minimum number of engine-face
diameters, and the overall length scales appropriately as the engine itself scales.
C. Performance Requirements
The CDO program allows a range of air vehicle performance requirements to be input, covering mission
performance (e.g. mission radius of action), point performance (e.g. turn rate capability) and field performance (e.g.
maximum take-off distance).
Mission Performance
The design mission is a deep strike ground-attack mission, flown at optimum cruise conditions to and from the
target, together with appropriate fuel allowances for launch, recovery and a small combat allowance, and is shown in
Figure 6. The range of mission radius requirements considered extends from a value typical of the capabilities of
current UK combat aircraft, up to a value just over three times as far. All the vehicles in this study must carry
enough fuel to fly the design mission requirement, plus specified reserves, with no other excess. The CDO program
estimates the required internal fuel volume, and ensures that there is sufficient space available in the wings and
fuselage. Optimised vehicles are allowed to have unused internal volume if the wing/fuselage turn out to be bigger
than the minimum required to contain the mission fuel.

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Cruise at optimum
conditions

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Recovery
fuel

Start, Taxi,
Checks,
Take-off

Cruise at optimum
conditions
Accelerate
and climb

Climb to
Opt
Release
weapons, plus
small
manoeuvring
fuel allowance

Mission Radius
Figure 6: High-level design mission profile
Point Performance
The point performance requirements for the UCAVs in this study are modest compared with those achieved by
current combat aircraft, and are sufficient for the UCAV to perform its mission, while being sensibly compatible
with the selection of an un-reheated engine. Point performance requirements in this study were specified in terms of
Specific Excess Power (SEP), and sustained & instantaneous rates of turn. The latter two are significant, but do not
feature subsequently in this paper, and are therefore not elaborated upon. SEP is a measure of the excess thrust
available to an air vehicle in straight and level (1g) flight, giving it the capability to climb or accelerate. The
formula for SEP is given below:

SEP =

TN D
.VT
W

Equation (3)

Where:SEP = Specific Excess Power (m/s)


TN = net installed thrust (N)
D = vehicle total drag (N)
W = vehicle weight (N)
VT = true air speed (m/s)

The two key SEP requirements were, firstly, the ability to sustain at least 2.5m/s (~500ft/min) SEP at the start of
the outbound cruise leg (i.e. at ~M0.8 and high altitude) and, secondly, the ability to sustain a rate of climb at lowlevel near the target that is comparable to a modern UK fast jet in max dry thrust (~M0.8 and Sea-Level).
Field Performance
The main field performance requirement specified was that vehicles in the study needed to be able to take-off
and clear a 50ft screen height within a distance of 8000ft (at ISA conditions and Sea-Level). This requirement
includes the UK DEF STAN single-engine airworthiness safety factor of 1.25 [10]. The CDO program estimates
take-off distance by considering it in three phases:(a)
Acceleration from stand-still to rotation
(b)
Rotation up to lift-off incidence
(c)
Fly-away up to the 50ft screen
One key issue determining the take-off distance is the speed that the vehicle has to reach before rotation is
possible. The program estimates the rotation speed by considering it to be the maximum of three possible speeds:(1)
Minimum speed at which lift-off is possible at the lift-off incidence
(2)
Minimum speed at which the pitch control surfaces can rotate the nose
(3)
1.1minimum stall speed, as required by UK single-engine airworthiness regulations [10]
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VIII. Reference UCAV Configuration

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The CDO program was used to optimally-size families of UCAVs having three different wing planforms for
minimum Basic Mass Empty. This paper avoids specifying estimates of vehicle mass directly instead the mass
estimates are normalised against the mass of a reference UCAV from within the study, which was chosen to be the
47deg configuration flying a typical UK combat aircraft mission radius, as mentioned above. Figure 7 shows this
reference vehicle. In this case the vehicle design is driven by the requirement that the vehicle contain enough
fuel to fly mission radius, and also the maximum take-off distance of 8000ft. The minimum propulsion system
length has forced the CDO program to size a rather over-sized wing, with the consequence that the vehicle is
estimated to use only around 50% of the total volume assumed to be available for fuel (although, if any extra fuel
were carried then the take-off performance would be worsened, violating this performance constraint).

Note: some details of the


propulsion system have
been omitted.

Figure 7: Reference UCAV from the study (with the 47deg planform)
Fuselage Stations
along Vehicle
Length:from nose to
intake aperture:
from intake
aperture to
engine front face:

from engine front


face to nozzle
exit:

Figure 8: Fuselage stations along vehicle length of the reference study UCAV
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Figure 8 shows fuselage cross-section stations at various points along the length of the reference UCAV.
These station sections illustrate how the optimiser varies the shape and size of individual fuselage stations consistent
with an overall minimum airframe mass, whilst still packaging the required contents, such as the engine and its
required clearances, weapons bays, undercarriage, systems and fuel.

IX. Design Trade-Offs

Basic Mass Empty


Figure 9 shows normalised UCAV mission radius against Basic Mass Empty (BME) for the three families of
UCAVs considered in this study. Each line corresponds to a family of UCAVs having the same wing planform
shape, scaled to meet the needs of the performance and packaging constraints. Each point represents an optimallysized UCAV conceptual design, with the values of BME normalised to the mass of the reference UCAV
mentioned above.
2.25
30deg
2.00
Normalised UCAV Basic Mass Empty

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A. Mission Radius Trade-Off

1.75

47deg

1.50
60deg

1.25

Symbols:
Filled = driven by take-off distance
Empty = driven by Sea-Level SEP

1.00
'Reference'
UCAV
0.75
0.67

1.00

1.33

1.67

2.00

2.33

2.66

3.00

3.33

3.66

Normalised mission radius

Figure 9: Variation of BME with mission radius for UCAVs having three different planform shapes
As expected, BME increases as the mission radius requirement is increased because of the increased fuel load
they are forced to carry, which requires a more powerful and bigger engine in order to maintain the same minimum
levels of air vehicle performance. In turn the larger engine causes an increase in vehicle length, size and mass. In
the case of the 30deg and 47deg UCAVs, solutions could be found up to the maximum value of mission radius
considered, but with 60deg there was an earlier curtailment of solutions. The vehicles are driven by a combination
of performance requirements and packaging constraints. In all the above cases the mission radius is a design driver,
because the vehicles have to carry enough fuel to fly the design mission with no excess. Two other key performance
requirements that were found to drive the size of the vehicles were the maximum take-off distance (to reach a 50ft
screen height) of 8000ft, and the ability to achieve the minimum SEP requirement at ~M0.8/Sea-Level mentioned
above (as denoted by the symbols in Figure 9).
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Take-Off Mass
Figure 9 above shows the mission radius trade-off with BME for the three families of UCAVs. For comparison
purposes it is also worth looking briefly at take-off mass for the same set of vehicle designs (although as mentioned
in Section V, BME is the figure of merit that is minimised in the optimisation). Figure 10 below shows UCAV
take-off mass alongside the empty masses from Figure 9. Take-off mass is the sum of BME, fuel, payload and
operational items.
4.00
Lines:
Solid = Basic Mass Empty
Dashed = take-off mass

3.75
3.50
3.25
3.00

Normalised UCAV mass

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The 60deg and 47deg families of vehicles are driven by the take-off distance requirement, because these
planforms are assumed to have a lower value of take-off lift coefficient, necessitating a relatively high value of
rotation speed on the take-off run. Whereas, the 30deg planform has a higher take-off lift coefficient, and the
vehicles themselves turn out to have very large wing areas, so take-off is estimated to be possible well within the
8000ft limit. The key design driver with 30deg is the SEP requirement at ~M0.8/Sea-Level. It is noticeable from
Figure 9 that the 30deg configurations are generally much heavier than the other two families, by around 40-50% at
lower mission radii. The 30deg configuration has the most aerodynamically efficient planform (in terms of peak
Lift/Drag ratio), so the fuel burn, and overall vehicle size might be expected to be lower. However these results
demonstrate that the assumed packaging requirements tend to result in over-sized airframes which are heavier and
have more drag. The two key packaging issues are the fixed planform shape, and the constraint that demands the
integrated propulsion system, and hence the centreline length, be a minimum number of engine face diameters. The
weight and drag penalties both particularly affect SEP (as can be seen from Equation (3)), as well as reducing cruise
fuel efficiency. 30deg is driven by the Sea-Level SEP requirement, but also the 2.5m/s top of climb requirement
is met with less to spare than for 47deg and 60deg. It is also observed that for these 30deg configurations there is
significant under-utilisation of the available fuel volume, with the lower mission radius 30deg cases using only
~40% of the estimated available volume. Although the 30deg planform might have been expected to be suitable for
a long-range deep strike vehicle, these results suggest that, for a single-engine configuration designed with these
assumptions and requirements, this particular planform shape is not ideally suited to these requirements.

2.75
2.50
2.25

30deg

2.00
1.75
1.50

60deg

47deg

1.25
1.00
0.75
0.67

1.00

1.33

1.67

2.00

2.33

2.66

3.00

3.33

3.66

Normalised mission radius

Figure 10: Variation of take-off mass with mission radius for UCAVs having three different planform shapes
Figure 10 above shows that BME is a high proportion of take-off mass, and for the vehicles shown the fuel
fraction (fuel mass / take-off mass) varies between 20-40%, with the higher values only attained for the longer-range
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cases. In principle flying wings have the potential to have relatively high fuel fractions compared with conventional
tailed aircraft due to their structurally efficient wing shapes, combined with large internal volume and lack of tail
surfaces. However, the combination of packaging constraints and performance requirements imposed in this study
appears to have negated some of these benefits.

Take-Off Distance to 50ft


Previously the maximum take-off distance requirement was 8000ft (including the 1.25 safety factor), which was
found to be a design driver for 47deg and 60deg UCAVs, and it was decided to investigate relaxing this to 9000ft. It
is acknowledged that this implies reducing the number of bases from which the UCAV could operate, however it
might bring with it a useful reduction in UCAV mass and hence cost. Figure 11 shows the impact of relaxing the
take-off distance to 9000ft on all three families of UCAVs. It can be seen that relaxing this requirement has no
impact on the design of 30deg UCAVs for the mission radii considered, because these UCAVs were driven by the
sea-level SEP requirement, rather than take-off distance. With 60deg and 47deg it can be seen that there is a
worthwhile reduction in BME, of 5-10%, but the resulting vehicles are still driven by the take-off distance
performance requirement. However the Sea-Level SEP requirement is achieved with a lower margin and is
therefore closer to becoming a design driver for these vehicles.
2.25
Lines:
Solid = 8000ft max take-off distance
Dashed = 9000ft max take-off distance

2.00
Normalised UCAV Basic Mass Empty

Downloaded by fhislam52@hotmail.com on August 24, 2016 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/6.2006-1264

B. Sensitivity to Assumptions & Requirements


In order to improve the balance of vehicle performance requirements, conceptual design studies commonly
investigate the sensitivity to changes in performance requirements.

30deg

1.75
47deg

1.50
60deg

1.25

1.00

0.75
0.67

Symbols:
Filled = driven by take-off distance
Empty = driven by Sea-Level SEP
1.00

1.33

1.67

2.00

2.33

2.66

3.00

3.33

3.66

Normalised mission radius

Figure 11: Impact of relaxing max take-off distance requirement from 8000ft to 9000ft
Specific Excess Power
All of the 30deg cases shown in Figure 9 are driven by the requirement that the vehicles have a minimum SEP at
M0.8/Sea-Level that is broadly similar to that achieved by current UK combat aircraft in max dry thrust; although
whether this level of performance would need to be attained by a UCAV is uncertain. The results above showed that
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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

2.25
Lines:
Solid = 'baseline' Sea-Level min SEP reqt.
Dashed = 'halved' Sea-Level min SEP reqt.

2.00
Normalised UCAV Basic Mass Empty

Downloaded by fhislam52@hotmail.com on August 24, 2016 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/6.2006-1264

this is a key design driver for the 30deg configuration, and therefore it was decided to investigate relaxing this
requirement by reducing the level of SEP to half the previous value, at the same flight conditions. The impact of
halving the SEP requirement on all three families of UCAVs is shown in Figure 12. It can be seen that it has no
impact on the design of 47deg and 60deg UCAVs, because these UCAVs are still driven by the take-off distance
requirement of 8000ft, not SEP. The 30deg family undergo a significant reduction in mass when the SEP
requirement is halved, BME falling by 35-55% depending on the mission radius. This occurs because the reduced
SEP requirement has lowered the thrust required (according to Equation (3)), allowing a smaller engine, which has
resulted in a shorter integrated propulsion system length, and hence reduced airframe size and mass. It is also shown
that at the higher values of mission radius, the driving performance constraint switches from SEP to take-off
distance. This suggests that the performance requirements are better balanced, because driving performance
requirements are tending to overlap. Now 30deg begins to appear to be suitable for long-range mission
requirements, perhaps at a cost advantage to 60deg or 47deg. However it appears to be essential to find an
acceptable balance of performance requirements, or address the planform design constraints or propulsion packaging
issues.

30deg

1.75
47deg

1.50
60deg

1.25

1.00

0.75
0.67

Symbols:
Filled = driven by take-off distance
Empty = driven by Sea-Level SEP
1.00

1.33

1.67

2.00

2.33

2.66

3.00

3.33

3.66

Normalised mission radius

Figure 12: Impact of relaxing SEP requirement at ~M0.8/Sea-Level.

X. Conclusions
This paper has discussed configuration and performance trade-offs for three cranked UCAV planforms having
leading-edge wing sweep angles of 30deg, 47deg and 60deg, and planform Aspect Ratios of 6.7, 3.8 and 2.0
respectively. A mission radius trade-off has been assessed, and sensitivity to performance requirements
investigated. Conclusions are as follows:1. The semi-empirical aerodynamic and mass estimation methods used by the Conceptual Design &
Optimisation program have been validated for use in first-order design studies. The aerodynamic validation has
been supported by high-quality performance data, but the mass validation is more limited due to the amount of mass
estimation work carried out to date.
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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

2. A mission radius trade-off has been assessed, and this has demonstrated the extent to which vehicle empty
mass increases with the mission radius requirement. Imposing the initial set of design assumptions and performance
requirements showed that 47deg and 60deg appeared significantly lighter than 30deg (although 60deg showed an
upper limit to its mission radius capability). 30deg was found to be excessively driven by performance
requirements, effectively sizing the engine, together with design constraints imposed by the planform and vehicle
packaging.

Downloaded by fhislam52@hotmail.com on August 24, 2016 | http://arc.aiaa.org | DOI: 10.2514/6.2006-1264

3. The benefits of the greater aerodynamic efficiency of the 30deg planform (in terms of Lift/Drag ratio) were
only realised once one of the point performance requirements, a low-level minimum climb rate, was relaxed. This
allowed the engine thrust requirement to fall, resulting in a direct reduction in the propulsion system length, and
airframe size and mass. This resulted in a better balance of performance requirements, enabling longer mission
radii requirements to be attained within a reasonable vehicle configuration.
4. Future Dstl conceptual design studies will address the issue of how to combine greater aerodynamic
efficiency with the required propulsion system length. This work will investigate revised planforms incorporating
leading-edge cranks and the possibility of using twin-engines.

XI. Acknowledgements
The work described in this paper was funded by the Ministry of Defence under Output 3e of the research
programme.

XII. References
1. The Impact of Advanced Engine Technology on Combat Aircraft Performance, AGARD-CP-572, S Hodder, S Simm,
June 1996.
2. Conceptual Design and Optimisation of Modern Combat Aircraft, C Crawford, S Simm, NATO RTO Proceedings,
Meeting 35, Ottawa, October 1999.
3. The Impact of Engine Technology Advancements on the Range v Performance Trade-Off for a Future Combat Aircraft ,C
Crawford, Journal of Defence Science, Vol. 4, No. 3, July 1999.
4. Recent Advances in Air Vehicle Design Synthesis and Optimisation, D Lovell, C Crawford, K Restrick, ICAS 2004
5. The Constrained Optimization Program RQPMIN v4.1, User Guide, Numeral Software Limited. 3 July 2000.
6. Recent Combat Aircraft Life Cycle Costing Developments within DERA, RTO-MP-37-AC/323(AVT)TP/16, Dr S
Woodford, Ottawa 1999.
7. High L/D Extended Range/Payload Fighter Aircraft TechnologyFinal Report, AFRL-VA-TR-99-3084 (Chapter 4
Excerpt for Public Release), G Billman, B Osborne, November 1998.
8. Low Speed Wind Tunnel Tests on the 1303 UCAV Concept QinetiQ/FST/TR025502/1.0, Dr R Bruce, March 2003.
9. The Application of Multivariate Optimisation to Combat Aircraft Design RAE TR 88003, D Lovell, January 1988.
10. MOD Defence Standard 00-970 Part 1 Section 7 Design & Airworthiness Requirements for Service Aircraft Issue 3
October 2003

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