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Design and sizing of a parametric structural model for a UCAV configuration for loads and aeroelastic analysis


The authors present the setup of a parametric structural finite element model for the loads and aeroelastic analysis of an unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV). The DLR-F19 is a “flying wing” configuration with a geometry based on previous research conducted in the scope of the “Mephisto” project and its predecessors “FaUSST” and “UCAV2010”. While a considerable body of knowledge exists regarding conventional configurations, unconventional configurations lack that same level of experience, and data for comparison is rarely available. Using an adequate structural model, the conceptual design stage becomes more sophisticated and already allows for the investigation of physical effects at an early stage of the design process. Strategies for structural modeling and proper condensation, aero-structural coupling, loads integration, control surface attachment, and the use of composite materials are addressed in this paper. The resulting model is sized for minimum structural weight, taking into account 216 load cases. In addition, a comprehensive loads analysis campaign is conducted and the resulting loads are evaluated at defined monitoring stations. In addition to maneuver loads, quasi-static gust loads are calculated using the Pratt formula and compared to results obtained from a dynamic 1-cosine gust simulation. The reasons for higher loads of the Pratt formula based method are discussed. The conclusion is that the Pratt formula is suitable for the preliminary sizing of “flying wing” configurations.

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The authors wish to thank Georg Wellmer and Sara Kirchmayr from the Airbus Defence and Space Loads Department for the prolific collaboration.

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Correspondence to Arne Voss.

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This paper is based on a presentation at the German Aerospace Congress, September 22–24, 2015, Rostock, Germany

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Voss, A., Klimmek, T. Design and sizing of a parametric structural model for a UCAV configuration for loads and aeroelastic analysis. CEAS Aeronaut J 8, 67–77 (2017).

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  • UCAV
  • Parametrized structural modeling
  • Loads
  • Sizing