Army researchers conceived of this fundamental approach for the potential of “enabling new leap-ahead capabilities in support of the Future Vertical Lift Army Modernization Priority,” officials said.

“In this instance, the development of advanced structures to enable leap-ahead Army aviation capabilities not currently feasible due to limitations in mechanical properties of current materials,” Glaz said. “This is especially important for the envisioned future operating environment which will require extended periods of operation without the opportunity to return to stationary bases for maintenance.”

Some particularly attractive design options that correspond to lower mechanical loads and vibration are not currently achievable due to limitations in structural damping in hingeless blade or wing structures.

Future structures based on this work may help lead to new composites with controlled structural damping and low weight that could enable low maintenance, high speed rotorcraft concepts that are currently not feasible (e.g. soft in-plane tiltrotors).

In addition, controllable mechanical response will allow for the development of adaptive aerospace structures that could potentially accommodate mechanical loading conditions.

“The Army Research Laboratory and its partners will continue to invest in emerging and Soldier-inspired technologies that will enable more reliable, higher performing, and leap-ahead capabilities that are key to the advancement of the next generation platforms used by Soldiers,” said Elias Rigas, division chief of the ARL Vehicle Applied Research Division.