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AFIT Design Team wins 3rd Place in AIAA Design Competition
Posted: 09/21/2005 by AFIT Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, OHIO (AFIT) - A team of students at the Air Force Institute of Technology won third place in the 2004-2005 American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics Graduate Team Aircraft Design Competition.

Dr. Robert Canfield, associate professor of aerospace engineering at AFIT and the team’s advisor, was the first to offer his congratulations to the student team.“This is the first time that AFIT has entered the national AIAA Design Competition,” he said.“We competed favorably against schools with proven track records like Georgia Tech, who won first place. Our entry was the result of a final project in AERO 685, the class I taught on Aircraft Systems Design. I was very proud that AFIT competed so well, based on a single ten-week course.”

Canfield’s class was divided into three competing groups, and they submitted the best final report of the three groups of five students each. The winning team was comprised of three recently graduated Navy officers and two resident Air Force officers who submitted their design project for a Morphing Navy Uninhabited Combat Aerial Vehicle to the competition.Navy Lt. John DiGiovacchino served as the team leader.The other team members were Capt. Joe Hank and Capt. Ron Pendleton, both U.S. Air Force, and Ensign Brett Jones and Ensign Troy Leveron, both U.S. Navy.

The team described their winning design as “a tactical airborne vehicle tailored for the Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) mission.Through the application of morphing wing technology, this aircraft is capable of a combat radius of 275 nm and a four hour on-station time.Additionally, it has the capability of a Mach 0.8 sea level dash to strike Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) sites/radar installations with its weapons payload of four AGM-88D High Speed Anti-Radiation (HARM) missiles.These performance capabilities are realized in a lightweight, flying wing design, for deployment on all current and future U.S. Navy aircraft carrier classes.”

The team’s design incorporated variable sweep (swing) wings to meet AIAA's stringent design requirements for a hypothetical Navy UCAV. According to Canfield, the requirement to consider "morphing" aircraft, i.e., aircraft that change shape in-flight, “made the class particularly challenging, because the current conceptual design tools they were learning to use are not capable of analyzing designs when the configuration changes during the mission.”

AERO 685 is a relatively new addition to the AFIT curriculum.The course was added to the Graduate School of Engineering and Mangement’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics when AFIT took over the Naval Postgraduate School’s aeronautical engineering program two years ago.

By Kim Curry
AFIT Public Affairs

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