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Publication Title | Plasma Actuators for Hingeless Aerodynamic Control of an Unmanned Air Vehicle

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PATEL ET AL. 1273
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Angle of Attack, deg Angle of Attack, deg Angle of Attack, deg
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Fig. 15 Comparison of plasma effects with conventional control surfaces.
to aid in identifying optimal locations for plasma actuators for effective flow manipulation. The flow over the suction surface of a scaled 1303 UCAV model was found to be highly three-dimensional. Flow visualization of the lee side of the wing revealed complex flow patterns made up of three-dimensional leading-edge flow separation and vortices that swept over the wing at higher angles of attack. The primary vortex breakdown location progressively moved upstream over the wing as the angle of attack increased. This led to a complex flow that made conventional trailing-edge flaps and ailerons ineffective at angles of attack above 15 deg.
Force-balance results showed considerable changes in the lift and drag characteristics of the wing for the plasma-controlled cases compared with the baseline cases. When plotted with the effects of conventional trailing-edge devices, the plasma actuators demon- strated a significant improvement in the control authority and, therefore, the operational flight envelope of the wing. Optimum lift enhancement was achieved by placing the actuators at a chordwise location that was close to the leading edge on the suction side at x=c ’ 0:03. The actuators were placed parallel to the leading edge and were operated in the unsteady mode to reduce power requirements to only 4 W per actuator span. For these, the actuator on the inboard half of the wing was only effective for angles of attack greater than 20 deg. The actuator on the outboard half of the wing was, however, effective for angles of attack from 9 deg up to the largest angle examined, 35 deg, for which the conventional trailing- edge flaps were ineffective. The results suggests that the application of plasma actuators on a swept UCAV planform can alter the flowfield of the leading-edge vortex in a manner that allows control without the use of hinged control surfaces. The study demonstrated the feasibility of a plasma wing concept for hingeless flight control of air vehicles.
Acknowledgments
This research was performed under a Phase 2 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) contract (no. FA8650-04-C-3405) issued by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The authors would like to thank Charles F. Suchomel (AFRL program monitor), Carl P. Tilmann, and Roger Kimmel for their encouragement and support for this work.
References
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