Combat aircraft scenario tradeoff models for conceptual design evaluation

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The purpose of this research is to apply engineering-based knowledge to the field of combat aircraft survivability, and to create scenario-specific models in order to estimate the tradeoff between aircraft survivability and lethality metrics at the encounter and sortie levels. The development of scenario-specific models serves to identify and quantify technological changes that have Ieverage on the overall performance of the aircraft from a survivability point of view. Also, the models focus on the fighter aircraft susceptibility assessment and are capable of incorporating outputs from offline studies as inputs, such as in the area of vulnerability assessment where extensive databases are available.

The mission scenario models are microscopic in nature and relate important conceptual aircraft design parameters such as thrust-to-mass ratio, wing loading, empty mass, maneuverability, etc. and operational parameters (e.g., weapon payload, range, loiter time, flight profiles, etc.) to the aircraft sortie survivability and lethality under various threat scenarios.

This research proposes a methodology to estimate survivability and lethality aircraft performance at the sortie level where aircraft parameters can be implemented into scenario-specific models to assess their impact upon survivability-related metrics. While the project was conceived with naval aircraft in mind, the methodology, to the extent possible, is not to be aircraft-specific and thus could be applied to any particular design at the conceptual stage.