BAE Systems will progress the design and testing of revolutionary flow control technologies that could deliver “significant operational enhancements”.

According to a release from the firm:

“The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded the contract to BAE Systems to design a full scale demonstrator concept with Active Flow Control at its core. The aircraft’s ability to maneuver in flight without conventional flight control surfaces will enable improved performance, maintainability, and survivability.

The contract award forms part of DARPA’s Control of Revolutionary Aircraft with Novel Effectors (CRANE) project, which intends to inject Active Flow Control technology early into the aircraft design process to demonstrate significant efficiency benefits, as well as improvements to aircraft cost, weight, performance, and reliability.”

BAE Systems’ say that its role in Project CRANE builds on its innovation demonstrated through MAGMA in 2019, where a subscale aircraft was successfully maneuvered in flight using supersonically blown air and Active Flow Control technologies for the first time in aviation history.

Speech marksTom Fillingham, Senior Vice President – US Programs, BAE Systems Air said:

“BAE Systems has been at the forefront of digital design for more than 20 years. This award enables us to progress Active Flow Control and our digital engineering capabilities at full scale, in collaboration with DARPA and the University of Manchester in the UK. Since our groundbreaking MAGMA trials, our engineers across the UK, US, and Australia have continued to innovate to identify improvements in the aircraft digital design process to deliver military value and operational advantages to the warfighter.”

As military aircraft confront increasingly contested and sophisticated threat environments, BAE claim that Active Flow Control offers potential military benefits that “could deliver operational advantage in the battlespace”.

“Active Flow Control technologies can supplement or replace conventional moveable control surfaces to improve the performance of an aircraft at various points in the flight regime, as well as reduce mass and volume compared to aircraft with conventional controls to enable greater payloads and greater flexibility to the operator.”

The contract will see BAE Systems mature design, integration, and de-risking activities, including wind tunnel testing at its facilities in the North West of England in 2022.

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Andy P
Andy P
2 months ago

I assume I’m missing something here as the aircraft are limited by pilot’s ability to withstand G. Are they looking at future use on drones then ???

AlexS
AlexS
2 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

Of course. It will even start as drone.

WatcherZero
WatcherZero
2 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

Removing of control surfaces allows aircraft to potentially be even stealthier as you are removing flat surfaces that might reflect radar. Typhoon for example is pretty stealthy airframe overall but has canards which could be pointed in an unfortunate direction when in use, to mitigate this the aircraft has software that adjusts the trim to try and maintain minimum time at reflection angles.

Last edited 2 months ago by WatcherZero
Daveyb
Daveyb
2 months ago
Reply to  WatcherZero

As the control surface moves up/down, left/right it exposes a flat or concave piece of the wing thereby making a very good radar reflector. However, all aircraft require a gap between the control surface and the fixed part of the wing/fin. This is to compensate for expansion through heat and therefore stop the control from rubbing or binding on the fixed part of the wing/fin. However, you can only make this gap so small, before it becomes a problem. Depending on the width of the gap and the frequency of the illuminating radar, these gaps can become resonate cavities and… Read more »

Reaper
Reaper
2 months ago
Reply to  WatcherZero

“Reflect radar” but if a “stealth” jet is turning or moving at all angles that make the radar beam hit a flat surface won’t stealth just be useless?

WatcherZero
WatcherZero
2 months ago
Reply to  Reaper

The goal is always to reduce signature, you can never eliminate it, most low observability aircraft are designed to minimise their frontal aspect return as your more likely to need it when heading towards your enemy than away. The Chinese and Russian aircraft in particular have quite poor side on concealment but their primary concern is flying as fast as they can directly towards an enemy fleet, launching then running away.

Reaper
Reaper
2 months ago
Reply to  WatcherZero

Ah right cheers

Stephen
Stephen
1 month ago
Reply to  WatcherZero

It also has ailerons and a rudder. Although these are carbon fibre and the foreplanes are made of titanium.

Dan F
Dan F
1 month ago
Reply to  Andy P

Reducing moving parts could save weight and make maintenance easier. 2 very important goals for aircraft.

Jason M Holmes
Jason M Holmes
2 months ago

Interested how manoeuvrable and aircraft an air vehicle can be by blowing jets of air over the surfaces as opposed to flaps, slats etc..

Daveyb
Daveyb
2 months ago
Reply to  Jason M Holmes

It depends on how much of the wings surface area is used for the air jets. The larger the surface area covered the more responsive the aircraft will be. You can take it to the extreme and have blowing over the leading edge, mid span and trailing edge. By doing this you can make the airflow more laminar at higher angles of attack and thereby maintain lift. Therefore, you wouldn’t need leading and trailing edge flaps. You could make the aircraft even more responsive, if you also included jets that blew perpendicular to the wing, i.e. 90 degrees to the… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

And again “pow” Davey has educated me once again……cheers

Reaper
Reaper
2 months ago
Reply to  Daveyb

Ahhh, Buccaneers… just passed one at a garage up here in Lossiemouth…

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

Do they still turn on its lights at night?

Last edited 1 month ago by DaveyB
Frank62
Frank62
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

Reminded me of Buccs too. Lovely aircraft.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  Daveyb

I would be very interested to hear your thoughts on this Davyb. A novel approach at the very least to tracking stealth aircraft!

https://eurasiantimes.com/chinas-new-anti-stealth-radars-can-detect-track-shoot-us-f-22-f-35-fighter-jets-military-experts/

Last edited 1 month ago by Nigel Collins
AlexS
AlexS
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

It is not new. Russians have anti stealth radars. Data fusion of low frequency radars – so less precise – can be enough for tracking. Or going millimetre wave and imagery radar for final interception.

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Both Russia and China have claimed that their HF/VHF/UHF radars can detect stealth aircraft. But you have to take their statement with a pinch of salt, as what was the target aircraft they were using and thereby what was its radar cross section? Aircraft like the F22 and F35 will be susceptible to resonant affects due to the following phenonium: “There is a ‘step change’ in an aircraft’s signature once the wavelength exceeds a certain threshold and causes a resonant effect. Typically, such resonance occurs when any feature on the aircraft is less than eight times the size of a… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Many thanks for taking the time to give me such a detailed explanation.

Greatly appreciated!

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

It would Appear China are upping their game in this area!

“China’s anti-stealth tech shines at radar expo”

https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202104/1221825.shtml

Last edited 1 month ago by Nigel Collins
DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Would that be the Global Times that are part of the CCPs People’s Daily newspaper group?

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Yes, it is.

They have been working on Advanced anti-stealth since the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade back in 1999.

Their theory on the subject seems to be well respected by the international community by all accounts?

https://www.jhuapl.edu/Content/documents/InDepthSubiReefCounterStealthRadar.pdf

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

A Johns Hopkins report no less, that’s more like it! The synthetic inverse aperture radar (SIAR) is an interesting subject. In many ways it operates similarly to a TACAN beacon. By modulating the transmission through 360 degrees you create a defined code that represents a bearing, that a tacan receiver can then interpret to find the bearing to the beacon. It seems this is what they are doing with SIAR. Using the 25 transmitters that look like half a dipole element, you would expect a lot of mutual interference, as the transmitted beam will have a circular beam profile around… Read more »

expat
expat
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

What do you make of the latest claim coming out of China on ‘Quantum’ Radars?

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  expat

They work fine in a lab, but not outside in the real world. The reason for this is due to the quantum entanglement. You have to use a pair of identical twins in this case photons, which are generally generated by a laser. One half of the photons is then converted into a microwave and transmitted as per a normal radar, where it interacts with the target and returns to the receiver. It is then converted back into a photon and measured against the captured twin for comparison. From this, you can work out the time it took to get… Read more »

Expat
Expat
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

As ever a very informative response, I do need to read up more on the subject. But I do confess quantum mechanics can be a bit baffling.

Shaun
Shaun
2 months ago

Will Any intellectual property or work developed by BAE or Manchester University fall under ITAR?

Last edited 2 months ago by Shaun
expat
expat
1 month ago
Reply to  Shaun

Anything developed or even conceptualised under this contract will be the property of Darpa.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago

I’m interested that

including wind tunnel testing at its facilities in the North West of England in 2022″

As the work is done in the UK it would fall under UK regulations which means US has access to it but so does HMG. Presumably this was because MAGMA was MOD IP?

There is clearly some very interesting stuff going on in UK basic R&D both in control (surfaces), electronics (radar) & platforms.

Isn’t the real benefit of this the RCS reductions as there are less joins on the plane?

Callum
Callum
2 months ago

RCS reductions are obviously a significant boon, but simplifying maintenance and logistics is one of those strategic benefits that win wars – or more specifically, that keep militaries in a condition to win wars.

The easiest example is WWII German tanks that would win a game of Top Trumps but were usually in no condition to actually fight.

spyintheskyuk
spyintheskyuk
2 months ago
Reply to  Callum

Now this is true but things were changing as the war ended it could be argued. The Comet was a very competent medium tank and compared well with the Panther though the Battle of the Bulge slowed its take up as the 11th AD had to take out their Shermans as they were working up on them. The 17pdr was a great gun and in original unmodified form was deemed by many the best anti tank gun of the war and many of these tanks were still in service around the World towards the end of the last Century and… Read more »

Rob N
Rob N
2 months ago

Will any of this go into Tempest.

spyintheskyuk
spyintheskyuk
2 months ago
Reply to  Rob N

I would guess that a lot of that will depend upon how this technology develops I suspect they will keep it in mind even as they go the traditional route as things stand. Loyal wingman which is part of the programme I think will exploit it earlier I would suspect. Others will possibly know more about how much the overall design would have to be dictated by whether you exploit this or traditional means. I fear there will be, for an uncompromised design anyway, quite a significant series of decisions to make in this regard and until its proven technology… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob N

I think it may have a very good chance of being included. However, this will be dependent on the engines that Tempest gets. Boundary layer control (BLC) can use up to 33% of the engine’s available power. Unlike flight control surfaces that require a modicum of either hydraulic or electrical power to move, BLC will always be demanding engine power. Therefore the engines that Tempest gets will have to have a massive surplus of power. The F22 Raptor has been said to be capable of flying 10,000ft higher than a F15. It uses the 2D thrust vectoring to assist its… Read more »

Rob N
Rob N
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Yes it would be good to see this technology on Tempest. Like you say they will have to have a major uplift in RR jet technology.

expat
expat
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Problem is a lot of that extra power will be used for DEWs. I have heard the approach may be more hybrid, you use BLC when in full stealth mode to so you ‘set’ the control surfaces in the most stealthy position and use BLC manoeuvre. I assume there’s trade off as control surfaces create drag and the most stealthy position for control surfaces is probably the lowest drag configuration, the power saved due to this lower drag is then used for BLC. One question does BLC offer the same levels of manoeuvrability?

DaveyB
DaveyB
1 month ago
Reply to  expat

If you keep conventional moving flying controls, you will still need a gap, where the edges meet the wing/fin/fuselage to allow for material expansion through either high g manoeuvres or heat. These gaps will allow certain radar frequencies to either directly reflect or resonate. So that will have to be taken into account during the design. BLC will take a lot of energy from the engine. But it is highly dependent on how much BLC is used. If it used just to clean up the boundary airflow over the wing to reduce drag, then this will be fairly minimal. If… Read more »

Expat
Expat
1 month ago
Reply to  DaveyB

That’s interesting. I know RR are proposing the engine core incorporates a generator so additional pumps could be a possibility. Power management and storage will be key though, Variable bypass is another possibility but blc only airframe appears to dictate high bypass which is either a large fan or a gtf design. Larger fans come with their own stealth challenges, not least the bulk of the airframe. I know Boeing and NASA have looked at morphing wings which would resolve the issue with gaps, but morphing wings are the oldest control method for powered flight and to my knowledge has… Read more »

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

If this is the ‘way forward’ insofar as Drone aircraft outperforming manned aircraft, why bother with the tempest in its current form?

Why not redesign the tempest as a smaller super duper fighter drone thing?

Andy P
Andy P
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Yeah, I’m a bit confused by what Tempest should be. Even the whole ‘Loyal Wingman’ thing makes me think it should be a largish 2 seater job with a pilot and a drone controller, especially if he’s supposed to be controlling 2 (or even more) drones, that’s proper ‘sticking the tongue out the side of the mouth’ levels of concentration ! You would think any interceptions will be done by the Loyal Wingman’s as their role would be to preserve the controlling aircraft and they would be the more nimble part of the setup that requires the high G stuff.… Read more »

Reaper
Reaper
2 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

Nah the Drones should 100% be autonomous, making the best moves possible, faster than the human brain, giving advantages we can only dream of today…I hope I’m still alive to see that shit, duno though life’s hard.

Coll
Coll
2 months ago

Looks like Tempest shaped wings?

Reaper
Reaper
2 months ago
Reply to  Coll

I thought it was tempest.. then I noticed the moustache

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago

A genuine concern to me is, the government or whoever, ‘chucking about’ loads of money to all these unmanned, drone or whatever enterprises, where maybe they should be combining some of these projects. (or is that too simple?)

Reaper
Reaper
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Yep, far too simple..,yank drones, Israeli drones, American F35s, european Typhoon… Is anything even British in the RAF anymore?

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
2 months ago
Reply to  Reaper

The food? … but even that’s shite.

Steve Brittain
Steve Brittain
1 month ago
Reply to  Reaper

Reaper, that’s my concern, where are the UK armed forces going to? My honest opinion is that our military no longer has much in the way of UK designed and built weaponry. I’ve said it before that parts of BAE should be sold off, ROF, ALVIS, GKN and the like, Independently I am sure could have designed Ajax and Boxer type vehicles, let alone revamped the Chally2 and Warrior.

Mark
Mark
1 month ago
Mark
Mark
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark

Doooh my original post didn’t get submitted…
Basically we’ve been developing this for a while and the technology is being used on tempest.