Title:
Multi-Environment Engine
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
The inventive multi-environment engine (1) comprises a body (2), wings (4, 5) and a propulsion system (8), wherein at least one wing is foldable between a first levitation flying position, a second levitation position for travelling on a water surface and a third diving position.



Inventors:
Apeloig, Julien (Le Blanc Mesnil, FR)
Dumitru, Alexandru (Maizieres, FR)
Grizel, Thomas (Puteaux, FR)
Proponet, Jean-guylain (Draguignan, FR)
Tiarks, Sebastio (Aussonne, FR)
Application Number:
11/917602
Publication Date:
08/28/2008
Filing Date:
06/14/2006
Assignee:
AEROART, SOCIETE PAR ACTIONS SIMPLIFIEE (Merignac, FR)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
244/3.27
International Classes:
F42B30/00; F42B10/64
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GREGORY, BERNARR E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
NIXON & VANDERHYE, PC (ARLINGTON, VA, US)
Claims:
1. Multi-environment missile (1), comprising a body (2), wings (4, 5) and a propulsion system (3), characterized by the fact that it comprises at least one foldable wing between a first lift position for flight, a second lift position for operating on the surface of the water, and a third submerged position.

2. Missile according to claim 1, wherein the foldable wing comprises at least one joint (18) around an axis that is approximately parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body, whereby said joint is active between at least one of said three positions and another of said three positions.

3. Missile according to claim 2, wherein the foldable wing comprises two joints (18, 19) around axes that are approximately parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body.

4. Missile according to claim 1, wherein in the first lift position for flight, the wing has a part that is close to the body and end slats (17) that extend upward, whereby the close part of the body is approximately horizontal.

5. Missile according to claim 4, wherein the end slats form stabilizers in the third submerged position.

6. Missile according to claim 4, wherein the end slats are part of the hydroplane skids in the second lift position.

7. Missile according to claim 6, wherein an end zone (16) of said close part of the body is also part of the hydroplane skids in the second lift position.

8. Missile according to claim 1, wherein, in the second lift position for operating on the surface of the water, the wing has a V shape in a vertical plane for forming a hydroplane skid.

9. Missile according to claim 8 that also comprises a retractable hydroplane skid (21).

10. Missile according to claim 1, wherein in the third submerged position, the wing has two parts that are folded against one another.

11. Missile according to claim 1, wherein the wing has a cutaway profile along a vertical plane that is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the missile that tends to make said missile slip during its submerged travel.

12. Missile according to claim 1, wherein in the third submerged position, the propulsion system (8) comprises a propeller (9) that can propel said missile into flight, on the surface of the water and submerged.

13. Missile according to claim 12, wherein the propulsion system comprises a streamlined propeller.

14. Missile according to claim 12, wherein the propulsion system comprises movable flaps between an aerial propulsion position and an aquatic propulsion position.

15. Missile according to claim 14, wherein the propulsion system comprises at least one movable flap that can block a lower intake and comprises at least one movable flap that can block an upper intake.

16. Process for travel of a multi-environment missile that is provided with a body, wings and a propulsion system, in which a first lift position for flight, a second lift position for operating on the surface of the water and a third submerged position are imparted to at least one foldable wing.

17. Process according to claim 16, wherein the same propulsion system is active in flight, on the surface of the water, and submerged.

18. Process according to claim 16, wherein the foldable wing is deployed for flight and folded for submersion.

19. Missile according to claim 5, wherein the end slats are part of the hydroplane skids in the second lift position.

20. Missile according to claim 13, wherein the propulsion system comprises movable flaps between an aerial propulsion position and an aquatic propulsion position.

Description:

This invention relates to the field of missiles that change environments. More particularly, the invention relates to a missile that is capable of operating in air, on the surface of the water and under water.

Today, submarines that operate on the surface and under water are known. In the past, seaplanes were also developed that were able to land on the water but were not very seaworthy.

Missiles that are fired from a submerged submarine, climb and have an air flight phase are also known. However, such missiles are very expensive and are hard to maneuver in water and are generally ejected from the submarine with compressed air. These missiles are therefore just able to reach the surface but cannot operate under the water effectively. Certain missiles are encapsulated during their underwater phase, with a disposable capsule.

This invention aims at eliminating the drawbacks of the devices referred to above.

This invention has as its object to propose a missile that has a high maneuverability in air, under water and on the surface of the water for a reasonable cost and a low weight.

The multi-environment missile comprises a body, wings and a propulsion system, whereby at least one wing can be folded between a first lift position for flight, a second lift position for operating on the surface of the water, and a third submerged position. The wings can thus be adapted to each type of aerial, underwater or surface operation.

In one embodiment, the foldable wing comprises at least one joint around an axis that is approximately parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body, whereby said joint is active between at least one of said three positions and another of said three positions. The foldable wing can be deployed to increase the lift in the air and folded to reduce drag in the water.

The foldable wing can comprise two joints around an axis that is approximately parallel to the longitudinal axis of the body.

The foldable wing can comprise a telescoping portion that makes it possible to vary the span of the missile. The telescoping portion can be placed beyond the second joint leaving the body. The telescoping portion can be deployed in the second lift position for operating on the surface of the water.

The foldable wing can be mounted behind the body, whereby canard surfaces are placed to the front of the body.

The body can have a long profile ensuring lift during operations in air.

In the second lift position for operating on the surface of the water, the missile can benefit from lift that is increased by ground effect. The ground effect can be advantageous for the lift-off and splashdown phases.

In one embodiment, in the first lift position for the flight, the wing has a part that is close to the body and end slats that extend upward, whereby the close part of the body is approximately horizontal. The close part of the body ensures powerful lift. The end slats that are placed in the extension of the part of the body that is close to each wing reduce wingtip turbulence and decrease aerodynamic drag.

The body can be shaped like a water droplet or a fish, preferably with a height that is greater than its width. Reduced drag can be produced.

The end slats can form stabilizers in the third submerged position. The end slats can be oriented downward, opposite their position that is oriented upward and is used in flight.

The end slats can form part of the hydroplane skids, or water wings, in the second lift position. An end zone of said close part of the body can also be part of the hydroplane skids in the second lift position.

The close part of the body can comprise several articulated sections. One of the sections can be stationary relative to the body. It is preferable to provide a single joint for folding the wing. A significant increase in weight can be produced.

In other words, a missile can comprise a body, wings, and a propulsion system, whereby at least one wing comprises an end slat that can pivot between a first position that is oriented upward for flight, a second lift position for operating on the surface of the water, and a third submerged position. Said end slat can be oriented approximately at 45° upward in the second lift position for operating on the surface of the water. Said end slat can be oriented approximately downward in the third submerged position. The same part thus performs three separate functions.

In one embodiment, in the second lift position for operating on the surface of the water, the wing has a V-shape in a vertical plane to form a hydroplane skid.

The missile can also comprise a retractable hydroplane skid. On the surface of the water, said missile can rest on a retractable foil and two foils formed by the wings opposite the body. The three foils form a lift triangle. The retractable foil can be placed at the front of the missile, and the two foils formed by the wings can be placed behind the missile. Said two foils may be non-retractable.

In one embodiment, in the third submerged position, the wing has two parts that are folded against one another. The wing thus can have a long profile that is suited to the movement of the missile underwater.

The wing can have a section in cutaway along a vertical plane that is parallel to the longitudinal axis of the missile, such that said section tends to make said missile slip during its submerged travel into the third submerged position. The missile may have a slightly positive, essentially constant floatability. In case of breakdown, the missile then rises to the surface and can be recovered.

In one embodiment, the propulsion system comprises a propeller that can propel said missile into flight on the surface of the water and while diving. The propeller can be streamlined. The propulsion system can comprise movable flaps between an aerial propulsion position and an aquatic propulsion position. The propulsion system can comprise at least one movable flap that can obstruct a lower intake and comprises at least one mobile flap that can block an upper intake. The lower intake is opened for the passage of water. The upper intake is opened for the passage of air. The propulsion system can comprise a variable-speed motor, for example an electric motor and a transmission with two speeds, one greatly reductive to drive the propeller at low speed in the water, and the other to drive the propeller at high speed in the air. The electric motor can be of the brushless type, powered by a battery or a fuel cell.

In one variant, a turbine is mounted in a rear fin. The turbine may be of the turboreactor type or of the type that drives a generator for recharging batteries, for example ion-lithium batteries. The propeller may or may not be streamlined.

According to the process of moving a multi-environment missile that is provided with a body, wings and a propulsion system, a first lift position for the flight, a second lift position for operating on the surface of the water, and a third submerged position are imparted to at least one foldable wing.

Advantageously, the same propulsion system is active in flight, on the surface of the water, and submerged.

In one embodiment, the foldable wing is deployed for flight and folded for submersion.

Thanks to the invention, the missile can travel in flight, submerged and on the surface by using numerous elements that are common to these three modes. The transition between these modes is carried out in a simple way while underway by adopting the surface mode. The missile is particularly well suited for oceanographic research, coastal surveillance and the inspection of ocean floors.

This invention will be better understood from the study of the detailed description of several embodiments taken as examples that are in no way limiting and illustrated by the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is a front elevation view of a missile according to an embodiment, in aerial position;

FIG. 2 is a top elevation view of the missile of FIG. 1, in aerial position;

FIG. 3 is a side elevation view of the missile of FIG. 1, in aerial position;

FIG. 4 is a perspective view of the missile of FIG. 1, in aerial position;

FIG. 5 is a front elevation view of the missile of FIG. 1, in surface position;

FIG. 6 is a top elevation view of the missile of FIG. 1, in surface position;

FIG. 7 is a side elevation view of the missile of FIG. 1, in surface position;

FIG. 8 is a front elevation view of the missile of FIG. 1, in submerged position;

FIG. 9 is a top elevation view of the missile of FIG. 1, in submerged position;

FIG. 10 is a side elevation view of the missile of FIG. 1, in submerged position, and

FIG. 11 is a detail perspective view of the missile of FIG. 1, in aerial position.

As illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 10, the multi-environment missile 1 comprises a body 2 of elongated shape along a longitudinal axis 3, two wings 4 and 5 that are symmetrical relative to a plane that passes through the axis 3, canard surfaces 6 and 7 that are symmetrical relative to the same plane and a thruster 8. The body 2 has a front section 2a that is generally ogival in shape and a rear section 2b that gradually tapers toward the rear. The canard surfaces 6 and 7 are articulated on the front section 2a, while the wings 4 and 5 are attached to the rear section 2b of the body 2. The canard surfaces 6 and 7 can be moved angularly along an axis that is perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 3 relative to the front section 2a by means of actuators, not shown, arranged inside the body 2, for example of the electric type. As a variant, the body 2 can be more tall than wide. The body 2 can be shaped like a water droplet.

The thruster 8 comprises an inlet part 8a, a central part 8b, and an ejection part 8c. The inlet part 8a is arranged longitudinally at the wings 4 and 5 and extends above and below the rear section 2b of the body 2. The inlet part 8a has a general tapered shape of smaller diameter toward the rear, which allows an acceleration of the fluid that passes through said inlet part 8a. The central part 8b is arranged longitudinally essentially at the trailing edge of the wings 4 and 5 and is provided with a propeller 9 that is driven by an electric motor, not shown, via a speed adapter, for example a transmission with two speeds that are relatively far apart. The ejection part 8c has a rectangular cross-section, whereas the inlet parts 8a and central parts 8b have a circular cross-section. The electric motor can be driven by a fuel cell or by batteries. Missile 1 can comprise a rear fin. A turbine can be placed in the rear fin. The propeller 9 may or may not be streamlined.

The outlet part 8c comprises two upper flaps 10 and lower flaps 11 jointed around axes that are essentially parallel to the longitudinal axis 3, and two side flaps 12 and 13 that are perpendicular to the flaps 10 and 11 and are articulated around axes that are essentially perpendicular to the longitudinal axis 3. The movement of the flaps 10 and 11 makes it possible to vary the outflow from the thruster 8 in a vertical plane, while the maneuvering of the flaps 12 and 13 makes it possible to vary the outflow from the thruster 8 in a horizontal plane, which allows a missile bearing control, while the flaps 10 and 11 allow pitch control. The position of the flaps 10 to 13 can be determined by electric actuators, not shown.

Whereby the two wings 4 and 5 are symmetrical, only the wing 4 will be described below.

Starting from the rear section 2b of the body 2 of the missile 1, the wing 4 comprises a section 14 that is stationary relative to the body 2, a section 15 that is articulated relative to the section 14, a section 16 that is articulated relative to the section 15, and end slats 17. In the aerial navigation position illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 4, the sections 15 and 16 are arranged in the extension of the stationary section 14. The leading edges of the sections 14, 15 and 16 are aligned and perpendicular to the axis 3. The same is true for the trailing edges of the sections 14, 15 and 16. The end slat 17 is folded perpendicularly to form a wing-tip that makes it possible to reduce turbulence, to increase stability and lift, and to reduce drag. The sections 14, 15 and 16 can be arranged in the same plane, parallel to the longitudinal axis 3 or passing through the longitudinal axis 3. The section 15 is articulated on the section 14 via an axis 18. The section 16 is articulated on a section 15 via an axis 19. Advantageously, the sections 15 and 16 are attached to one another. The number of joints is reduced, thereby reducing weight. The end slats 17 are attached or articulated on the section 16. The axes 18 and 19 are parallel to one another and parallel to the longitudinal axis 3.

In the position that is illustrated in FIGS. 1 and 4, the axes 18, 19 and 20 are coplanar.

In the aerial navigation position, the wings 4 and 5 are deployed to offer a large lifting surface, while the canard surfaces 6 and 7 ensure excellent maneuverability and the end slats 17 improve the aerodynamic performance.

The front part 8a of the thruster 8 comprises at least two flaps that make it possible to block selectively an opening that is arranged above the body 2 for the purpose of travel in air, and an opening that is located below the body 2 for the purpose of underwater travel and certain surface maneuvers. For aerial navigation, the lower flap that is located under the body 2 is closed, while the upper flap that is located above the body 2 is open, allowing the entry of air into the inlet part 8a. The high speed of the transmission is then engaged, which ensures a rotating speed of the propeller 9 that is suitable for the air.

In the surface navigation position, illustrated in FIGS. 5 to 7, it is seen that the missile 1 is equipped with a front skid 21 that makes it possible to slide on the water for hydroplane operation. The skid 21 comprises a leg 22 that can be retracted in the body 2 and a shoe 23. The skid 21 has a general T shape, inverted in cross-section (see also the front view of FIG. 5). The skid 21 is attached to the front section 2a of the body 2, essentially at the same longitudinal level as the canard surfaces 6 and 7. The skid 21 is retracted into the aerial and underwater navigation positions so as to reduce drag and is extended into the active position of the body 2 in the surface navigation position so as to offer support on the water.

In the surface navigation position, the section 15 of the wings 4 and 5 is slightly inclined relative to the stationary section 14, for example by an angle on the order of 10 to 30°. The section 16 is also inclined relative to the section 15, for example by an angle on the order of 15 to 40°. The zone of the end slat 17 that is close to the axis of articulation 20 and the zone of the section 16 that is also close to the axis of articulation 20 form a rear hydroplane skid with a V-shaped cross-section (see also FIG. 5) that offers excellent stability during travel at an adequate speed on the surface of the water to lift the body 2 of the missile 1 above the water.

In the surface navigation position illustrated in FIGS. 5 to 7, the thruster 8 can adopt the same mode of operation as above. However, in the case of a choppy water surface, it may prove advantageous to close the upper intake flap of the thruster 8 and to open the lower flap so as to facilitate the entry of water into the thruster 8. The transmission is then put on low speed to provide to the propeller a propulsion speed that is compatible with the propulsion in the water.

The underwater mode of operation is illustrated in FIGS. 8 to 10. The section 15 is folded at 180° relative to the position that is illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 4 and positioned under the stationary section 14. The section 16 is positioned in the extension of the section 15, relative to the zero angle, also in contact with the lower surface of the stationary section 14. The end slats 17 are perpendicular to the section 16 and directed downward close to the body 2. The missile 1 thus offers a reduced span, reducing the hydrodynamic drag. The thruster 8 is in aquatic propulsion mode described above, with a propeller 9 with a slow rotating speed via a transmission that operates with a reducing gear. The skid 21 is retracted so as to reduce drag. The depth control is carried out using flaps 10 and 11 of the ejection part 8c of the thruster 8. The canard surfaces 6 and 7 can also be used for depth control and roll stabilization. The direction control is ensured by the flaps 12 and 13.

Of course, for the travel of the missile by aerial navigation and underwater navigation, the profile of the wing has a particular importance. The profiles of the sections 14, on the one hand, and 15 and 16, on the other hand, can be different. By way of example, the section 14 can have a profile called SD 7037. The profile of sections 15 and 16 may also not be identical. The profiles of said sections 14 to 16 are arranged so that each section in the aerial navigation position that is illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 4, whereby the wings 4 and 5 are deployed with maximum span, offers a positive lift, tending to increase the altitude of the missile and also such that in the underwater navigation position that is illustrated in FIGS. 8 to 10, the wing 4, 5 whose profile results from the superposition of the section 14 and the section 15 partly, and section 14 and section 16 for another part, has a negative lift that tends to increase the depth of submersion of the missile 1. Thus, when the missile 1 is traveling under water, under the action of the thruster 8, the missile 1 has a greater tendency to dive as speed increases. The end slats 17 are then used as a stabilizer, reducing the twisting movement of the missile.

In other words, the end slats 17 ensure a triple function of the wing-tip in aerial navigation, hydroplane skid by travel on the surface of the water, and underwater navigation stabilizer. The wing 4 has a positive lift in deployed position of aerial navigation and a negative lift in folded position of underwater navigation. In addition, the stationary section 14 can be provided on its inside surface with a movable flap that can travel downward and that makes it possible to increase the lift, in particular at low speed, for the lift-off.

The thruster 8 can be provided with counter-rotating propellers, which proves particularly advantageous for preventing reaction torque.

By way of variant, it is possible to provide end slats 17 that are articulated relative to the section 16 so that their angular position relative to the section 16 can be modified. It is also possible to specify that the body 2 have a profile, viewed in longitudinal section, which offers lift during travel in air so as to facilitate the lift-off of the missile and to reduce the necessary wing length.

In the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 11, the wing 4 comprises a telescoping portion 24 to which is attached the end slat 17, designed, for example, in one piece and able to be deployed between an extended position relative to the section 16 and a retracted position, visible in FIG. 11. It is seen that the majority of the portion 24 is placed in the section 16. The telescoping portion 24 can be deployed in the surface navigation position to be used as a hydroplane skid in collaboration with the end slat 17. The telescoping portion 24 can be optimized to offer an excellent hydroplane skid profile, while the section 16 can be optimized to offer an excellent wing profile. The telescoping portion 24 is retracted in aerial and underwater navigation. The end slat 17 can be perpendicular to the telescoping portion 24.

Thus, the multi-environment missile 1 is able to move in three separate environments, thus offering very high flexibility of operation despite significant constraints inherent to these three environments. The multi-environment missile 1 offers good aerial performance owing to the large surface area of the wings 4 and 5 that are deployed, the canard slats 6 and 7 and the orientable thrust of the vector thruster 8, thus owing to the longitudinal profile of the body 2 that ensures an additional lift, and the end slats 17 that form the wing tips. The surface navigation performance is ensured by the front skid 21 and the rear skids that are formed by the end slats 17 in cooperation with the section 16 or the telescoping portion 24.

In underwater navigation, the folded wings 4 and 5 ensure a negative lift that allows the multi-environment missile 1 to dive while traveling under the action of the vector thruster 8. The multi-environment missile can thus pass from the presence of ballasts currently used in submarines, creating a significant reduction of the space requirement and the weight to be taken on board, and increased maneuverability regardless of the mode of navigation. The multi-environment missile has a bulk density that is slightly less than 1, such that in the case of a failure while diving, the multi-environment missile 1 rises to the surface, the thruster 8 being stopped. An audible, visual or radio alarm can then be implemented. The multi-environment missile 1 is therefore perfectly suited for implementation from light infrastructures, such as motor boats, pleasure boats, simple pontoons, and can be used for moving quickly from one point to the next while carrying out underwater inspections while underway by adopting a surface navigation mode.

In operation, to pass from the aerial navigation mode into the surface navigation mode, the multi-environment missile 1 draws close to the water surface. The front skid 21 is extended from the body 2.

The sections 15 and 16 are pivoted around their axes of articulation 18 and 19 to impart to the wings 4 and 5 the surface navigation profile that is illustrated in FIG. 5. The multi-environment missile 1 can then rest on the surface of the water and navigate on the surface. At the time of splashdown, the lower flaps of the section 14 can be used to increase the lift temporarily and to reduce the splashdown speed. A ground effect can also be created. The liftoff operation is carried out in reverse order.

To pass from the surface navigation mode to the underwater navigation mode, the thruster 8 is gradually slowed down. The transmission is passed to the lower speed, so that the propeller rotates at a speed that is compatible with the water. Then, the lower flap of the thruster 8 is opened, and the upper flap is closed. Alternately, the two flaps can be closed until the multi-environment missile is stopped, which gradually sinks into the water due to the absence of lift of the hydroplane skids due to the drop in speed. The skid 21 is retracted into the body 2. The section 16 of the wings 4 and 5 is pivoted in alignment with the section 15, and the section 15 is pivoted at 180° under the section 14. The thruster is then put into operation in the underwater propulsion mode with a propeller 9 that rotates at slow speed and an open lower flap. The thruster 8, of the bi-mode type, is particularly advantageous if a single thruster is sufficient, creating a considerable reduction of the weight and the space requirement of the propulsion means.