A Fully Coupled, Automated Formation Control System for Dissimilar Aircraft in Maneuvering Formation Flight
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH SCHOOL OF ENGINEERING
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This study developed a fully automated formulation control system, capable of controlling a number of like or dissimilar aircraft in maneuvering formation flight. C-130 fixed wing aircraft and H-53 helicopters were modelled in various formulations and simulated through a mix of maneuvers. External formation guidance was assumed as a single data burst of nominal function guidance commands and separation distances for each wing aircraft in the formation. No communication was assumed between formation aircraft. Wing aircraft track lead aircraft maneuvering with an ideal on-board sensor, maneuvering to maintain relative position. It was determined that lead aircraft inputs must be attenuated at times to prevent less capable wing aircraft from being outmaneuvered. A simple proportional plus integral feedback controller was used to add control to lead aircraft, or nominal formation commands. This allowed aircraft with differing operational capabilities to safely and effectively execute all maneuvers evaluated in the study. C-130 aircraft models were used for the initial development. H-53 models were later inserted into the final design to evaluate system and design robustness. The system was shown to operate independent of the aircraft or configuration being flown. Open loop and controlled responses are presented for comparison.
- Military Aircraft Operations