Propulsion Sciences

Explore opportunities in Propulsion Sciences

Future Multi-Domain Operations (MDO) will require a Joint Force that can conduct cross-domain maneuvers to penetrate and operate in complex and contested areas to enable freedom for both strategic and operational maneuver [1].  The movement and maneuver warfighting function is the rapid deployment of task-organized and combat configured combined arms forces able to transition quickly to conduct operations of sufficient scale and ample duration [2].  Movement comprises actions associated with deploying forces to an operational area and actions taken throughout the operational area to position forces in preparation for maneuver in relation to enemy forces [2].  Maneuver is the employment of forces in the operational area through movement, in combination with fires, to achieve a position of advantage in relation to the enemy for the purpose of closing with and destroying enemy personnel and equipment, seizing and holding terrain, and protecting populations [2].  The Army Functional Concept expands upon both concepts of combined arms maneuver and introduces cross-domain maneuver.  Cross-domain maneuver is the employment of mutually supporting lethal and nonlethal capabilities in multiple domains to generate overmatch, present multiple dilemmas to the enemy, and enable joint force freedom of movement and action [2].  Future forces will need to conduct cross-domain maneuver, realize mission command, integrate reconnaissance and security operations, and at times, operate semi-independently, disbursed, and while communications and infrastructure such as GPS are disrupted or denied.  Several Army modernization priorities have been established to support needed technical advancements in our maneuver capabilities to achieve these goals, specifically the Next Generation Combat Vehicle and Future Vertical Lift priorities.  As part of these priorities, robotics and autonomous systems (RAS) will play a key role in expanding the operational reach, situational awareness, and effectiveness of maneuver forces [5].

The CCDC ARL’s research investments in Propulsion Sciences Foundational research competency are focused on gaining a greater fundamental understanding of advanced propulsion and platform technologies to inform and enable enduring cross-domain maneuver of air and ground (manned and autonomous) operations in MDO.  It serves as a key enabler of innovative vehicle configurations and subsystem architectures that are critical to the future Army’s movement and maneuver.  Knowledge gained through fundamental and early applied research efforts will lead to technologies that overcome the constraints on design, fabrication, integration, control, propulsion, and vehicle intelligence to support reliable mobility and ensure power projection superiority for the future Army.  The Propulsion Sciences Competency builds on fundamental pillars of science and engineering to conduct research in manned-and-unmanned Army air and ground platforms that are critical to the future Army’s movement, sustainment, and maneuverability.

Research Focus:  To discover, innovate, inform, and transition S&T enabled capabilities that significantly increase the force effectiveness of the Army’s air and ground manned and unmanned systems in future Multi-Domain Operations and Cross-Domain Maneuvers.

Vision for MDO:  To create disruptive and game-changing vehicle-centric technologies for the Army through utilization of ARL and partner expertise and facilities in combustion physics, propulsion sciences, aeromechanics, intelligent mechanics, VTOL design and analysis, aviation component and structural materials, autonomous systems, robotic mobility and manipulation, and state-of-the-art modeling and experimental facilities.

To realize this mission and vision, the Propulsion Sciences Competency is organized around three primary research areas in Platform Power, Platform Design and Control, and Intelligent Maneuver (Figure 8).  Multi-disciplinary approaches are needed that explore the intersections and span all three research areas in order to create disruptive and game-changing vehicle-centric technologies to inform the Army’s future vertical lift platforms, next generation combat vehicles, and robotics and autonomous systems.  To support this multi-disciplinary approach, three cross-cutting concepts serve to focus the core mission around “All-Terrain Autonomous Maneuver,” “eXtreme Unmanned Aerial Systems (XUAS), and “Advanced Rotorcraft Performance.”