Development of High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) aircraft systems is part of a vision for a low cost communications/surveillance capability. Applications of a multi payload aircraft operating for extended periods at stratospheric altitudes span military and civil genres and support battlefield operations, communications, atmospheric or agricultural monitoring, surveillance, and other disciplines that may currently require satellite-based infrastructure. The central goal of this research was the development of a multidisciplinary tool for analysis, design, and optimization of HALE UAVs, facilitating the study of a novel configuration concept. Applying design ideas stemming from a unique WWII-era project, a "pinned wing" HALE aircraft would employ self-supporting wing segments assembled into one overall flying wing. When wrapped in an optimization routine, the integrated design environment shows potential for a 17.3% reduction in weight when wing thickness to chord ratio, aspect ratio, wing loading, and power to weight ratio are included as optimizer-controlled design variables. Investigation of applying the sustained day/night mission requirement and improved technology factors to the design shows that there are potential benefits associated with a segmented or pinned wing. As expected, wing structural weight is reduced, but benefits diminish as higher numbers of wing segments are considered. For an aircraft consisting of six wing segments, a maximum of 14.2% reduction in gross weight over an advanced technology optimal baseline is predicted.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/ramcdona/12/