Conceptual Design of a Nonconstant Swept Flying Wing Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicle

Hassan Aleisa, Konstantinos Kontis, Berkay Pirlepeli, Melike Nikbay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The design of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs) is primarily governed by the low-observability requirement for military applications rather than aerodynamic performance. The conceptual design and optimization of UCAV models via size and shape variables for different missions in different flow regimes form a research area for military vehicle design. Flying wing UCAVs experience flow separation during takeoff and landing, and furthermore exhibit stability issues. The aerodynamic performance of these UCAVs can be significantly improved by redesigning their leading-edge sweep angle and wing planform. In the present work, the initial weight determination, aerodynamic sizing, and planform with and without inlet lip integration, and the conceptual design of a nonconstant leading-edge flying wing UCAV configuration are performed. Next, the obtained conceptual design is downscaled 1:20 to be used as a wind-tunnel model and optimized for low-speed conditions using a kriging-based surrogate model with a vortex-lattice method to maximize the lift-to-drag ratio. Later, the optimized design is validated using an open-source computational fluid dynamics code, OpenFOAM 8.0, to verify the accuracy of the surrogate model and to investigate the aerodynamic characteristics. The optimized UCAV design exhibited improved aerodynamic characteristics in terms of the lift-to-drag ratio. Furthermore, the aerodynamic performance and flowfield of the optimized UCAV model with and without inlet lip integration have been evaluated at low and high speeds.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1872-1888
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Aircraft
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, AIAA International. All rights reserved.


The authors would like to acknowledge the NATO Science and Technology Organization’s Support Project AVT-SP-002 titled “Turbulence and the Aerodynamic Optimization of Nonplanar Lifting Systems.”

FundersFunder number
NATO Science and Technology OrganizationAVT-SP-002


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