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The DARPA/AFRL/NASA/Northrop Grumman Smart Wing Phase 2 Model mounted in the NASA Langley Transonic Dynamics Tunnel test section.

Objective 2: Reduce Emissions

Sections:    2      2.1      2.2      2.3      2.4      2.5      2.6

Section 2.6:    Smart Wings Make Flying Cleaner & Cheaper: Demonstration Of High-Actuation-rate, Hingeless, Smoothly Contoured Smart Control Surfaces On An Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle

Since the Wright brothers' first successful flight, aircraft designers have searched for ways to improve aircraft efficiency and performance. Typically, aircraft wings are designed to be most efficient at a single flight condition but suffer performance penalties at other flight conditions. These penalties may be reduced through the judicious deflection of "conventional" leading- and trailing-edge hinged control surfaces. Since the 1980's, researchers have investigated the use of fully-integrated adaptive material actuator systems (so called "smart technologies") for performance-enhancing shape control. The Smart Wing program is one such effort where DARPA (Defense, AFRL (Air Force Research Laboratory), NASA, and the Northrop Grumman Corporation are working together to develop and demonstrate these technologies.

As part of the Smart Wing program, researchers performed wind-tunnel tests in the Langley Transonic Dynamics Tunnel to demonstrate a new technology that may revolutionize how unmanned combat air vehicles fly. Actuator arms driven by "smart" motors were integrated into a trailing-edge control surface on a wind-tunnel model of an unmanned combat air vehicle. The actuator arms could be rotated, allowing the control surface to deflect and/or twist into smoothly contoured shapes. If used in conjunction with an appropriate control law, these changes in shape could potentially allow the wing to respond to changing aerodynamic conditions. Such changes in aerodynamic shape would allow the vehicle to fly more efficiently by reducing drag and fuel consumption. In the future, the results of the demonstration will be analyzed and documented by the program lead, the Northrop Grumman Corporation.

POC: Darrel Tenney, Langley Research Center

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