The Design and Fabrication of a Load-Attenuating Launcher for Multiple Air-Launched UAS

Current air-launched unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are often limited by the quantity that can be carried and their interactions with the host aircraft. This study proposes a device which increases the number of UAS carried on an aircraft while reducing the loads imparted on the airframe and improving other launch characteristics. After defining the customer requirements and constraints of the problem, an iterative design process was used to reach a final prototype. The design incorporates elastomeric springs to reduce the impulsive loads on the host aircraft. Further analysis led to the selection of 6061-T6 aluminum as the primary material in the device. We developed an instrumentation package consisting of strain gauges and inertial measurement units and a testing apparatus was designed. After testing, the team found that the mount reduced the force on the airframe by 34.3%, which was below the initial goal. Furthermore, as input force increased, the force reduction increased. Therefore, the design will meet the force reduction requirement at the expected launch loads. The processes and selected design used here will lead into follow-on testing with the goal of producing an airworthy design that satisfies the demands of the problem.
Air Launch, Strain Gauge, Inertial Measurement Unit, Aircraft Structures, Unmanned Aerial Systems, Flexural Strength, Age Hardening, Kinetic Energy, Propellant, ALTIUS
Philip Federico, Benjamin McDougall, Nikhil Patel, Matthew Paulton, William Pickell, John A. Pegues and James E. Bluman. "The Design and Fabrication of a Load-Attenuating Launcher for Multiple Air-Launched UAS," AIAA 2022-0261. AIAA SCITECH 2022 Forum. January 2022.