Morphing Aircraft Structures

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Raytheon also develops new airframe elements for cruise missiles, which will be able to change in flight, adapting to the mission requirements, and other changes in the battle. These Morphing Aircraft Structures, developed under a DARPA program, are scheduled for testing in early 2005. Morphing capability applied to a missile would enable efficient flight at multiple speeds and altitudes without sacrificing performance as is currently the case when operating off the optimized cruise point. Exceptionally quick response to a threat and mission flexibility could mean fewer missiles are needed to destroy a target. Morphing wings is the first in a series of steps to permit a cruise missile to travel at high speeds to a target area, loiter and then move to another target area, with speed changes from 0.3 Mach to 3.0 Mach. The technology ultimately could be applied to other platforms and future air vehicles, manned and unmanned. To facilitate such morphing structures, the integrated system design probes advanced materials, actuators, sensors and electronics to create devices and adaptive structures that enable significant in-flight vehicle shape change. These shape changes are more significant than those currently found in flight vehicles, and, in turn, will enable new military capabilities such as those envisioned by Raytheon.