Minimum drag control allocation for the Innovative Control Effector aircraft

Optimal use of control redundancy on modern fighters

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The Innovative Control Effector model is a tailless delta-wing aircraft concept equipped with 11 control surfaces with overlapping functionality and two-directional thrust vectoring. The high level of redundancy makes it an interesting object for research on mission-specific control allocation. A (spline-based) incremental control allocation approach is proposed to deal with nonlinear input functions and aerodynamic interaction between multiple control surfaces. Two control allocation modes to minimize drag are proposed and assessed in a general flight scenario. With both modes the average drag is reduced by about 6.5% relative to a standard control allocation scheme. Sensitivity analysis points out that one mode is vulnerable to the choice of initial parameters, whereas the other is primarily sensitive to the accuracy of the onboard model. Improvement of the ICE aerodynamic model is necessary to substantiate the true potential of mission-specific control allocation for next generation aircraft.