Creativity -- MRMF mission wing pods


MISSION WING POD SIDE VIEW

At some modest cost to the configuration wave drag, the MRMF wing pods are designed to reduce the total weight of this mulit-mission fighter.  Weight is saved in at least three ways; moving the main landing gear from the central fuselage allows us to design the fuselage as a cylindrical column with few cavities in the enclosing shell.  When landing gear is embedded within the fuselage, heavy bulkheads must be included to carry over the loads from the wing. When a cylindrical shape is unbroken, carry-over loads are more easily managed; the weight of the structure can be better controlled.

Some current fighter designs have recognized this fact; and, main landing gear can be seen positioned outside the fuselage in what appear to be bulges under the wing root. Here too, there is a modest loss in wave drag in an attempt to reduce the fuselage structural weight.

The second way that weight was saved was not to embed the main landing gear into the wing structural box, as was the tradition in WW-II vintage fighters.  The wing box could now be designed to be strong and light in weight, with more volume available for fuel storage.

The third way the MRMF wing pods reduce weight is to depart from the tradition of carrying a universal suite of avionics required for every possible mission the fighter may be required to perform. In earlier times of fighter flight control system design, this made a lot of sense; for one thing, it meant that the inertial properties of the avionics compartments would remain essentially constant. This simplified the design of flight control laws in that the various control path gains could be set as constant for, at most, two flight modes--cruise and takeoff and landing.

In the present age of digital flight control systems, it is possible to change control path gains using software rather than hardware components.  This results in more optimal design of flight control systems; and, it opens the door for configurations, like the MRMF, that can accommodate a multitude of stores carriage and a wide range of mass properties.

It then becomes practical to question the need to carry any more avionics stores than are necessary to serve the needs of a particular mission.  Using this advantage we can size the aircraft for the worse-case carriage of avionics stores; this can save weight that is best used for the carriage of fuel, extending the operating range of the fighter system.

Once the mission related avionics stores can be a consolidated into two removable modular assemblies, the whole picture of avionics maintenance and logistics issues changes markedly.  Not only can the fighter be quickly reconfigured for a variety of missions, avionics repair can more easily be facilitated.  Instead of removing an avionics box from the fuselage, the entire pod can be rapidly exchanged making the fighter able to resume another mission in short order. Reducing the operational turn-around time means that fewer fighters need to be on hand in order to respond to needs.

AVIONICS MISSION MODULE

The removable avionics pods pictured here are shown to contain older ATR style line replaceable assemblies. In the example shown, there are 22 full ATR boxes and one 4-foot laser sensor-tracker assembly.  The use of two sensor-trackers makes possible passive optical ingress to a forward target.  As we all know, two "eyes" allow for binocular vision; binocular vision is what allows us to experience depth perception. This means that the laser need not be employed for ranging purposes.  This is an advantage when attacking targets that have laser sensing equipment. They will never see us coming.

It is proposed that the removable mission pods be managed using conventional mobile weapons loaders; but, in some cases, repairs on avionics assemblies can be performed while standing on either side of the pods. The avionics pods are located at eye level and can be serviced without the need for large scafolding  Removal of the avionics modules is easily facilitated by accessing the mounting hardware in the main landing gear wheel well.  When in the wheel well, the ground crew has access to the cables and the avionics module mounting rails and module clamps. The crew will stand in the region of the wheel well that is normally occupied by the main landing gear in flight.

Behind the main landing gear, the wing pod houses the conical speed brake system along with thermal and EM countermeasures.  In the ASW configuration, this area also houses the towable helium magnetometers used to detect the presence of a submarine by the magnetic anomaly detected when the MRMF flies near the sub; countermeasures can be towed in this way.

The removal of the main landing gear, and so much avionics, from the fuselage will provide more fuselage volume for possible fuel storage.  Instead of many small fuselage fuel cells, we anticipate having fewer cells of larger capacity, again saving weight.

The variety of removable mission modules that can be accommodated opens up many possibilities for mission usage.  For instance, the MRMF is designed to accept two folding outer wing panels. The larger of the two will configure the MRMF as a long range, or high altitude, reconnaissance fighter, with some restriction to fly at lower airspeeds.  The wing planform is designed to accommodate both outer wing panels; and, the flight control system reconfigures the control laws to deal with this major shift in flight control mode.

Those experts who are versed in low radar and thermal observability will no doubt question the ability of the MRMF to evade radar and thermal detection. After viewing the cost and weight penalties imposed by the use of stealth measures over the decades, we contend that missions of stealth be consigned to those classes of fighters specifically designed for stealth missions. The arena we have surveyed for the MRMF does not currently present conventional threats. The MRMF is mainly designed for OTW encounters with targets that are not likely to be threats calling for ingress stealth.

"Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes.   Art is knowing which ones to keep."      Scott Adams
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up."        Pablo Picasso