Executive Summary

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) contracted with the Naval Studies Board (NSB) of the National Research Council (NRC) to establish a committee to review ONR’s Aircraft Technology Program (ATP).1 The committee convened on May 15 and 16, 2001, and reviewed some 28 science and technology (S&T) efforts that were presented as constituting the ATP. The committee met separately on May 17, 2001, to formulate its findings and recommendations.2 This report represents the consensus opinion of the committee and is based on the information presented at the review.

The ONR ATP resides within the Strike Technology Division (Code 351) of the Naval Expeditionary Warfare Science and Technology Department (Code 35). In 2001 the ATP is funded at $55.0 million, which is approximately 60 percent of the Strike Technology Division budget. The ATP S&T 2001 budget is further divided into the following categories: (1) 6.1 basic research at $4.3 million, (2) 6.2 exploratory development at $18.1 million, and (3) 6.3 advanced development, including technology demonstrations, at $32.5 million. However, the ATP will be in major transition beginning in FY02. Starting in FY02, all of the 6.3 funding and one-half of the 6.2 funding at the ONR will be dedicated to 12 major program areas referred to as Future Naval Capabilities (FNCs). The purpose of the FNCs is to focus advanced technology development at ONR on naval force capabilities that have been identified as high priority for the future by a cross-functional group of naval operators, naval development and support organizations, and ONR program managers. Plans have been made to integrate several of the Code 351 programs reviewed into FNCs, as discussed in Chapter 2.

The ATP was presented to the committee in six thrust areas: integrated avionics, propulsion and power, air vehicle technology, unmanned aerial vehicles/unmanned combat air vehicles (UAVs/ UCAVs), survivability, and special aviation projects. Several projects were presented within each thrust area. The committee organized this report in response to these thrust areas, and in several of these areas it also suggests new S&T topics for consideration for the future ATP.

1  

Biographies of committee members are given in Appendix A.

2  

The agenda for the 3-day meeting is presented in Appendix B.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 1
2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program Executive Summary The Office of Naval Research (ONR) contracted with the Naval Studies Board (NSB) of the National Research Council (NRC) to establish a committee to review ONR’s Aircraft Technology Program (ATP).1 The committee convened on May 15 and 16, 2001, and reviewed some 28 science and technology (S&T) efforts that were presented as constituting the ATP. The committee met separately on May 17, 2001, to formulate its findings and recommendations.2 This report represents the consensus opinion of the committee and is based on the information presented at the review. The ONR ATP resides within the Strike Technology Division (Code 351) of the Naval Expeditionary Warfare Science and Technology Department (Code 35). In 2001 the ATP is funded at $55.0 million, which is approximately 60 percent of the Strike Technology Division budget. The ATP S&T 2001 budget is further divided into the following categories: (1) 6.1 basic research at $4.3 million, (2) 6.2 exploratory development at $18.1 million, and (3) 6.3 advanced development, including technology demonstrations, at $32.5 million. However, the ATP will be in major transition beginning in FY02. Starting in FY02, all of the 6.3 funding and one-half of the 6.2 funding at the ONR will be dedicated to 12 major program areas referred to as Future Naval Capabilities (FNCs). The purpose of the FNCs is to focus advanced technology development at ONR on naval force capabilities that have been identified as high priority for the future by a cross-functional group of naval operators, naval development and support organizations, and ONR program managers. Plans have been made to integrate several of the Code 351 programs reviewed into FNCs, as discussed in Chapter 2. The ATP was presented to the committee in six thrust areas: integrated avionics, propulsion and power, air vehicle technology, unmanned aerial vehicles/unmanned combat air vehicles (UAVs/ UCAVs), survivability, and special aviation projects. Several projects were presented within each thrust area. The committee organized this report in response to these thrust areas, and in several of these areas it also suggests new S&T topics for consideration for the future ATP. 1   Biographies of committee members are given in Appendix A. 2   The agenda for the 3-day meeting is presented in Appendix B.

OCR for page 1
2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program The committee reviewed only the elements of naval aviation S&T managed by the ATP in Code 351. The committee was told that all naval aviation S&T was conducted by ONR. Other significant contributing technologies, such as materials for aircraft that are developed in the ONR Engineering, Materials, and Physical Sciences S&T Department (Code 33) and sensors and information management that are developed in the ONR Information, Electronics, and Surveillance S&T Department (Code 31), were not reviewed at this time. Therefore, in some respects, the committee did not receive a complete picture of the state of naval aviation S&T. Within the ATP as presented, the committee identified several excellent S&T projects that fully satisfied all of the evaluation criteria established. The criteria selected by the committee, based on its experience in conducting similar reviews, included the scientific and technical quality of the program and performing personnel, the appropriateness of the project or program as an S&T activity, the impact of the program on Navy and Marine Corps needs, the extent to which the program interacts with other Department of Defense and National Aeronautics and Space Administration programs performing similar work, and appropriateness and balance in the funding among basic research, exploratory development, and advanced development. These projects—helmet-mounted displays, real-time image indexing, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency/Navy Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle-Navy (DARPA/UCAV-N) advanced technology demonstration (ATD), reconfigurable rotor blade, and flight controls and dynamics—were of high technical quality, appeared to be led by very competent personnel, had the potential for a major positive impact on future Navy and Marine Corps needs, and were adequately balanced and funded. The committee recommends that these excellent projects be continued and that sufficient funding, acknowledgment, and ongoing support be provided to ensure their successful transition into major programs. Despite these few excellent but isolated programs, the committee was concerned that it could not identify any influence on the ATP of a long-range vision or strategic planning for the future of naval aircraft technology that involved the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV), Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), ONR, and other Navy Department elements. As a result, the ATP appeared to be focused on the near term and to be tactical, opportunistic, and largely reactive. Some projects were marginal S&T activities and perhaps should have been funded as engineering fixes with major program funding. The lack of any significant 6.1 funding in the ATP aimed at discovery and invention (D&I) is additional evidence of this near-term focus. As part of the S&T planning process, there seems to be little or no systems analysis capability at ONR or NAVAIR. This seriously limits the assessment of potentially high-payoff, long-term S&T opportunities. The committee therefore recommends that OPNAV, in cooperation with NAVAIR and ONR and the appropriate offices in the Marine Corps, develop a long-range naval aircraft strategic plan that includes a NAVAIR-led technology development plan. Such planning would provide (1) a framework for future ONR S&T investments, including significant emphasis on D&I, and (2) a vision for new capabilities, including advanced air vehicle concepts at affordable costs.3 It is particularly important now with the advent of FNC thrusts and as ONR funding shifts from manned aircraft to UAVs and UCAVs. The committee believes that failure to establish such a balanced strategy will lead to a more near-term focus, with unacceptable consequences for naval aviation. ONR should develop or contract for a strong systems analysis capability to support long-range planning. Finally, as part of this strategic plan, the committee recommends that all projects relevant to an S&T aviation capability throughout 3   The committee recognizes that this recommendation is broader than the charter of ONR, but ONR can serve as a catalyst in drawing together the various parts of the naval aviation community.

OCR for page 1
2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program ONR (and the Department of the Navy) be collectively reviewed, even though they exist in several functional organizations. The above findings and recommendations overarch all of the individual findings and recommendations that are provided in each thrust area in this report. Following the Introduction (Chapter 1) and General Observations (Chapter 2), the body of this report (Chapters 3 through 8) describes in detail the committee’s findings and recommendations concerning the individual projects now being pursued by Code 351. The recommended actions, which include continuation, redirection, and termination, are summarized in Table ES.1. Appendix C lists the abbreviations and acronyms used throughout this report. At the request of the ATP leadership, the committee also provides in Chapters 4, 5, and 6 some S&T topics for consideration in the future ATP activities. The committee believes that many of these topics are relevant to the FNC thrusts that will begin in FY02. The topics, which span the range from basic research to advanced technologies, are offered as suggestions but are not endorsed by the committee to the exclusion of other programs; they are summarized in Table ES.2.

OCR for page 1
2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program TABLE ES.1 Summary of Recommendations for Code 351 ATP Projects Thrust Area Project Recommendation Integrated avionics Smart skins None. Effort is ending. Advanced common electronic modules Monitor other DOD efforts (e.g., JSF) and coordinate opportunities to apply their results to naval aircraft since this program has been terminated for schedule and cost reasons. Fiber-optic roadmap Track needs and available products and help coordinate customers with sources. Advanced avionics subsystems If program ends in January 2002 and feasibility has been established, transition results to both Navy and Air Force strike platforms. Real-time image indexing Maintain expertise in Code 31 and continue work on the overall “difficult targets” dilemma. Visually coupled displays Maintain above-critical-mass funding and continue aggressive efforts aimed at demonstrating advanced HMD systems. Propulsion and power Propulsion Devote more attention to STOVL and VTOL areas unique to the Navy. Revisit the distribution of investment between large and small engines.   Initiate 6.1 D&I investment. Multifunction power controller Assess potential benefits relative to other high-priority, underfunded needs.   Terminate and reinvest in higher-priority aircraft technology needs unless a critical capability will not be achieved from investments by industry and other agencies. Smart wire Leverage other relevant work and focus on naval aviation-unique problems.   Transition technology to demonstration as rapidly as possible and transfer implementation to the PMAs in charge of impacted aircraft maintenance and upgrade. Air vehicle technology Structural life attainment and enhancement Ensure that activities meet the criteria for S&T funding. In FACIA, continue with heavily loaded composite control surface work but leverage other external technology programs.   In the MUST activity, clarify types of failure modes being evaluated and quantify how results will be applied. Condition-based maintenance Maintain the activity but aggressively transition technology to naval aviation systems and to other programs such as JSF.   Examine operability and reliability of wireless sensors in the dense electronic environment aboard aircraft.

OCR for page 1
2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program Thrust Area Project Recommendation   Reconfigurable rotor blade Excellent program. Continue as planned. Flight controls and dynamics Focus on naval-unique requirements and extend current work to include mission-critical functions of UAVs. Abrupt wing stall Continue CFD efforts but include critical unsteady aerodynamic effects until a clear understanding is obtained of the physical mechanisms involved in the problem.   Involve the academic community in the resolution of the problem. Ensure that specific F/A-18E/F solutions are funded by that program. Aerodynamics of advanced Navy air vehicles Increase support to ensure capability to understand tightly coupled, nonlinear aero-structure-control interactions.   Review current aviation platforms and operational programs of interest to the Navy (e.g., V-22, F-18E/F, JSF) with respect to the potential for these types of problems. Unmanned aerial vehicles/unmanned combat air vehicles Canard rotor wing Support flight test program to completion but transition out of S&T at that point. UCAV-N ATD Focus on integration into the existing naval C3 infrastructure.   Do not get overly absorbed with development and demonstration of any single airplane.   Continue to leverage UCAV-A efforts in order to avoid duplications. UAV autonomy Dramatically narrow and focus effort in BAA and FNC.   Focus on decision aids for C2 and rapid, adaptive mission planning and execution.   Commission a thorough review of project goals and plans by an independent panel of outside experts. Survivability LO technology Integrate signature reduction knowledge and awareness across all aircraft technology pursuits. Fund an integrated 6.3 LO technology development. Special aviation projects VECTOR Convoke a comprehensive review of overall project by an independent panel of outside experts. Consider incorporating multiaxis thrust vectoring nozzle in ESTOL X-31. VTDP Terminate. Note: See Appendix C for definitions of acronyms used.

OCR for page 1
2001 Assessment of the Office of Naval Research’s Aircraft Technology Program TABLE ES.2 Summary of New Topics Suggested for Consideration in Future ATP Activities Thrust Area New Topic Propulsion and power Exploring and developing as necessary under S&T funding those technologies that will enable the design of compact, fuel-efficient, ship-compatible UAV engines suitable for long-endurance flight at low and medium altitudes. Air vehicle technology Improving understanding of the vortex ring state and its impact on operations near the ground for the unique V22 configuration. Exploring active reduction of vertical tail buffet by wing aerodynamic sources rather than by structural modification alone. Exploring concepts for expanding the speed limitations on air vehicle performance envelopes in an affordable manner at both supersonic and hypersonic speeds and at low speeds for ESTOL and toward routine post-stall flight. Exploring concepts that exploit the absence of human-based constraints on maneuvering of UAVs and UCAVs to achieve high maneuverability and greatly improved survivability and lethality. UAV/UCAVs Exploring fault tolerance and fail-safe characteristics of all flight-safety-critical control technologies to ensure that vehicle mission-critical functions are performed as reliably as necessary. Addressing in a small, but focused, 6.1 effort the fundamental technology issues of autonomy, i.e., the identification, structuring, and documentation of the mathematical and engineering principles inherent in the concept of autonomous behavior of complex military systems. Developing, documenting, and publishing guidelines for the structured design of autonomous systems, to include such things as the fundamental concepts, proven system architectural options, and design practices, including the introduction of meaningful figures of merit for trading off such parameters as machine versus human functionality. Note: See Appendix C for definitions of acronyms used.