Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Paul A. Blue, PhD


The Advanced Navigation Technology (ANT) Center at the Air Force Institute of Technology (AFIT) conducts extensive research in advanced guidance, navigation, and control to exploit the full potential of autonomous Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). The research in this thesis describes a UAV research platform developed to support the ANT Center's goals. This platform is now the bedrock for UAV simulation and local flight test at AFIT. The research has three major components. The first component is development of a physical, inertial, and aerodynamic model representing an existing aircraft. A systematic analysis of the airframe leads to a complete geometric, inertial, and aerodynamic representation. The airframe analysis included the use of USAF Digital Datcom, an aerodynamic modeling software tool. Second is the development and implementation of a non-linear, six degree of freedom simulation, employing the developed model. Constructed in Matlab/SIMULINK, the simulation enables control design and pre-flight analysis throughout the entire flight envelope. Detailed post-flight analysis was also performed in Matlab/SIMULINK. Additionally, Hardware in the Loop benchmark simulation was constructed and used for initial flight test plans as well as test team training. The third and final component of the research was an experimental flight test program. Both open loop and autonomous flights were conducted. Openloop flights characterized the aircraft dynamics for comparison with the Matlab simulation results. Autonomous flights tuned the autopilot controller through waypoint tracking in preparation for future advanced navigation research and provided data for Hardware in the Loop simulation validation. This report, along with other significant legacy documentation and procedures, builds the foundation from which future AFIT and ANT Center UAV simulations and flight tests are based.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number