Modeling and simulation of bow wave effect in probe and drogue aerial refueling

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In a probe and drogue aerial refueling system, the bow wave of the receiver aircraft will produce a strong aerodynamic effect on the drogue once the receiver follows the drogue at a close distance. It is a major difficulty of docking control in the probe and drogue refueling. This paper analyses the bow wave effect and presents a simple method to model it. Firstly, the inviscid flow around the receiver is modeled based on the stream function defined by basic stream singularities. Secondly, a correction function is developed to eliminate the error caused by the absence of air viscosity. Then, the aerodynamic coefficients are used to calculate the induced aerodynamic force on the drogue. The obtained model is in an analytical form that can be easily applied to the controller design and the real-time simulations. In the verification part, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation tests are conducted to validate the obtained flow fields and aerodynamic forces. Finally, the modeling method is applied to an F-16 receiver aircraft in a previously developed autonomous aerial refueling simulation system. The simulations results are analyzed and compared with the NASA flight-test data, which demonstrates the effectiveness of the proposed method.




Dai, X., Wei, Z., & Quan, Q. (2016, April 1). Modeling and simulation of bow wave effect in probe and drogue aerial refueling. Chinese Journal of Aeronautics. Chinese Journal of Aeronautics.

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