Digital Engineering to Aid Air Force in Hypersonic Development

By Laura Heckmann

FlightStream graphic

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland — An aerodynamic modeling software company is looking to help the Air Force get a leg up in its race with China and Russia to perfect hypersonic capabilities.

Developed by Texas-based Research in Flight, FlightStream is a panel method flow solver — a form of digital engineering used for modeling and analyzing aircraft during the early design phases. The software can shorten the development timelines for aircraft and missiles, company CEO Vivek Ahuja said on the sidelines of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics SciTech Forum in National Harbor, Maryland.

“We’re trying to make it possible for [engineers] to do a detailed engineering analysis during that early stage — everything from acoustics to structures to layout,” Ahuja said.
The company received $1.2 million in funding from the Air Force’s AFWERX program in January to expand its modeling and simulation software for transonic and supersonic flight vehicles, Ahuja said. The advanced methods will aid in hypersonic flow enhancement.

The FlightStream solver is expected to be used by the Air Force and defense contractors. The new version will be geared toward reaching higher-speed aircraft designs through physics-based methods, while remaining “computationally efficient and suitable to the conceptual design phase,” according to a FlightStream press release.

The intuitive interface is a software that can be purchased by customers and run on a laptop. It runs “100 times faster than what they had before,” which means they can turn around concepts “very quickly,” Ahuja said. What once took weeks will turn around in seconds, speeding up the entire overall design process, he added.

The software’s ability to run on laptops brings an added level of ease to the process, cutting out the need for heavy computers and supercomputing capabilities, he added.
Research in Flight is planning to have a commercial version of the software by the end of the year, with delivery to the Air Force of the new version expected within the next 18 months, Ahuja said.

As for what the Air Force can expect, Ahuja said the interface and software will remain as is, with the added capability for equations to support transonic, supersonic and eventually hypersonic speeds.

Topics: Emerging Technologies, Modeling Simulation, Engineering and Manufacturing

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