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Lattice controls...?

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posted on Aug, 19 2006 @ 02:53 AM
I suspect this is something that has been known about for some time, but which I managed to miss up until now for some reason.

For those like me who haven't seen these before, here's an excelent description by Aerospaceweb.

In short, lattice controls replaces conventional control surfaces with a grid of short, light, self-reinforcing surfaces which are lighter, require less effort/energy to turn (i.e. smaller servos can be used), and can be easily folded in for compact storage.

The disadvantage to the system is substantially increased drag at transonic speeds (Mach .8 -> 1.3) though ithere is no disadvantage at other speeds. Unfortunatly the grid design is an excelent EM-frequency reflector, which makes anything equiped with these control surfaces rather easy to spot on radar.

Aside from the MOAB uber-bomb and a handful of Russian missiles however, the only other place I've seen lattice controls is on some Small Diameter Bomb photos (but is that the final design layout?). It seems the compact nature of folded latice fins would be ideal for stealth aircraft weapons, where internal storage space is the limiting factor for weapons carraige, but so far I haven't found any US weapons utiliszing this layout (at least, none that have entered regular service). It'd be interesting to see what JDAM/Paveway/WCMD looked like reincarnated with lattice controls, and to see how the new control surfaces affected weapons performance.

So what does everyone else think? Something we should be making greater use of, or not worth the trade-off compared to conventional control surfaces?

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