RCS Rotator/Pylon Architecture – Pushing Back the Boundaries of Structural and Operational Performance
Authors: J. Mark Hudgens, Eric Kim
Radar Cross Section (RCS) test systems typically employ 2-axis compact positioners mounted atop low-observable support structures. The positioners are most often configured as azimuth over elevation, and are referred to as rotators. The support structures, called pylons, are built with very specific geometry that exhibits extremely low RCS. The rotator/pylon system mounts a model, often a full size aircraft, and presents it to the RCS measurement system in various spatial orientations.
The need to maintain very low observability, along with the need to manipulate the model through a large range of motion, result in a challenging set of problems. These have been effectively addressed over decades of RCS equipment design. In recent years however, RCS applications have become much more demanding. Models are ever larger and heavier, with length exceeding 150 feet, and with weight up to 50,000 lbs. Required accuracy with some applications has increased to ±0.01°, an increase of 67% as compared to legacy values.
MI Technologies has developed products that significantly expand the structural and operational envelopes of rotator/pylon systems to meet the demand for higher performance. This paper presents the various challenges encountered in RCS Rotator and Pylon design, and the innovative solutions that have arisen from recent engineering efforts.