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Next Generation Wind Measurement Technology



TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Battlespace, Sensors

ACQUISITION PROGRAM: PMA 251 Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment

OBJECTIVE: Develop an innovative and low cost wind measurement solution capable of mapping wind speed and direction for the entire airspace for US Navy Air Capable Ships.

DESCRIPTION: The US Navy's air capable ships and aircraft carriers currently use a wind system to measure digital wind speed and direction information, such as crosswind, head wind, relative wind and true wind, to support air operations, navigation, tactical planning, combat, and firefighting by displaying this information to the ship’s crew in multiple locations around the ship and to other systems. The current system requires an interface with the ship’s navigation system, to calculate and display true wind. The current system is only capable of taking measurements at the two or three locations where sensors are installed. The displays are also required to display launch and recovery envelopes and overlay that on the wind data to provide situational awareness to the ship’s crew to enable them to steer the ship within the approved envelope for aircraft operations.

Accurate wind data plays a critical role in Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) performance and pilot safety during the launch and recovery of aircraft. For instance, a wind difference of two knots can change the parameters for launching an aircraft off a carrier. The US Navy desires a new low cost solution to accurately measure wind data on the flight deck where aircraft are being launched or recovered as well as areas of interest out in space due to reports where the current wind sensors did not accurately represent the actual wind at the flight deck catapult. These anomalies were during higher sea states when the pitching deck created air turbulences that propagated across the deck. This added capability to map the entire airspace surrounding the ship would be beneficial to the fleet with regards to ordnance delivery, navigation, and the launch and recovery of aircraft, as well as the validation of computational fluid dynamics airwake turbulence models. Targeted production costs for each new system are $10K for a single standardized smart module and $3K for each wind sensor. This new solution should support all air capable ship classes and shore stations with a single standardized smart module capable of recognizing multiple configurations of sensors and displays. The architecture should be such that adding sensors and displays to the system can be accomplished quickly and easily with a self-configuration rather than a lengthy manual process

An innovative approach is needed to identify the most cost effective methods to achieve the Navy’s requirements. It is desired that the new system have the capability to self-calibrate to reduce maintenance costs and have built in tests to detect faults.

Previous research in this field has shown the following technology challenges that must be addressed:


• Compensation for ship motion


• Performance in all types of weather (including rain and fog)


• MIL-STD-810G environmental requirements and MIL-STD-461F Electromagnetic Interference requirements must be met


• Incorporation into existing ship structures


• Identifying the minimum number of sensors needed in order to keep installation costs at a minimum

The system’s threshold requirements are as follows:


• Wind Speed Accuracy:


o 0-50 Knots: ±1.5 Knots


o 50.1-125 Knots: ±2.5 Knots


• Direction over entire sensor array:


o 0-360 degrees: ±2 degrees


• Sensor Range:


o 0-200 feet above water


o 0-200 feet directly above the ship


o 100 feet in front of and behind the ship


o Resolution of 10 feet


• Capable of operating with wind speeds up to 125 knots


• Capable of not dislocating from the ship due to wind up to 175 knots


• Maximum Sensor Dimensions:


o Cylinder with a diameter of 34” and height of 28”


o Objective Requirement: Cylinder with a diameter of 9” and height of 9”

PHASE I: Provide a conceptual design of the wind measurement system. Prove the feasibility of meeting the stated requirements through analysis and lab demonstrations. Identify specific strategies for minimizing system hardware costs.

PHASE II: Build a prototype system and demonstrate accuracy and coverage in a commercial wind tunnel. Demonstrate performance in poor weather by simulating rain/fog. Provide an estimate of per-unit cost with backup cost data, including parts/manufacturing. Provide a top-level failure analysis and service life estimate. Provide a top-level assessment of whether the system would pass MIL-STD-810G.

PHASE III DUAL USE APPLICATIONS: Further develop complete system architecture with sensing modules and displays optimized for the shipboard application including required environmental qualification and shock testing. Test prototype system to verify requirements established by NAVAIR. Provide production units for aircraft carriers and air capable ships. Private Sector Commercial Potential: Potential uses include private and commercial maritime environments, private and commercial air fields, meteorology, and monitoring potential sites for harvesting wind energy.


  • Polsy, S.A., Ghee, T.A., Butler, J., Czerwiec, R., and Wilkinson, C.H. (2011). Application of CFD Anemometer Position Evaluation – A Feasibility Study. AIAA-2011-3346. AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference, June 27-30, Honolulu, Hawaii

KEYWORDS: Surface Aviation Ships; Wind Measurement System; Modular Design; Airwake Turbulence; Computational Fluid Dynamics; Reduced Total Ownership Costs

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