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Morphing Aircraft Structures


MAS logoAir vehicles are currently designed for single missions such as reconnaissance or attack. The vehicle geometry for current aircraft for specific missions is dictated by the primary mission segment and is non-optimal for other mission segments and roles. This results in reduced range, loiter, and the inability to operate from some airfields or ships. The ability to change wing shape and vehicle geometry substantially while in flight would allow a single vehicle to perform missions that are beyond current capabilities or to perform multiple mission tasks, including tasks that are so different that they are now done with separate aircraft operating as a large system. The ability to morph and become a shape-changer combines optimal performance into a single system with low turning radius, long endurance, increased payload, and high speed—tasks that cannot be efficiently combined today.

The Morphing Aircraft Structures (MAS) program provided and integrated enabling technologies required to design, build, and demonstrate aerodynamically efficient, shape-changing, morphing wings to provide optimal, uncompromised performance during complex military missions. These technology development efforts provided proof of principal demonstrations of flight traceable morphing wings.

Significant tasks completed include a performance benefits analysis and sensitivity studies, flight control, and stability characteristics; development of active morphing wing concepts, i.e., adaptable, time variant air frames whose changes in geometry substantially change vehicle aerodynamic performance; and bench testing of relevant subcomponents and subsystems. The culmination of this effort was the fabrication and testing of integrated wing components and the wind tunnel testing of the completed wing to verify structural integrity and operational features. This successful test paved the way for the next phase of the program, conducted by DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office.




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