Airframe Structures and Materials

Naval aviation airframes are a core capability for the power projection mission. Sea-based aviation demands structural and materials challenges that are unique and often more stringent than land-based aviation requirements. Meeting these challenges for the future Naval Air Wing requires a robust program which sustains a focused aircraft S&T activity. Airframe structure is central to all naval aviation operations, whether fixed or rotary wing, manned or unmanned. Airframe materials are the underlying enabling technology for naval air vehicle structures. Advances in structural and material science for airframes offers significant opportunity for improvements in availability and readiness, reduced sustainment requirements, fatigue assessment and service life enhancement, reduced weight and improved range, enhanced analysis and design tools, and upgraded or new guidance, specifications and standard practices. The program focuses on the Navy’s unique aspects of design, materials selection, fabrication, analysis and repair related to air-vehicle structures. S&T investments in these areas offer opportunities in durability, life extension, sustainment and readiness. Most airframe technology challenges are not platform specific, rather they are fully represented in both current, new-build and planned next-generation designs.

Research Concentration Areas

The program consists of three thrusts: Metallic Structures, Composites Structures, and Advanced Concepts. These are primarily concerned with load-bearing applications and related airframe functionality. The structures and materials focus area will also support the infrastructure necessary to maintain technology superiority while serving as a pipeline of future scientists and engineers.

Research Challenges and Opportunities

  • Metallic Structures – Topics in combined loading mechanics, environmentally assisted cracking test methods, electrochemical stress, localized damage evolution, protective coatings and structural remediation.
  • Composite Structures – Topics in characterization of damage initiation, environmental effects, constituent materials development, handling-processing-property relationships, and the durability and repair of bonded joints.
  • Advanced Concepts – Topics in adaptive, reconfigurable structures, multifunctional surfaces, EMI shielding, protective coatings for IR optical apertures, lightweight armor materials and additive manufacturing for repair.

Type of Funding Available

  • Basic Research
  • Applied Research

Program Contact Information

Name: William Nickerson

Title: Program Officer

Department: Code 351

Email for Questions: william.nickerson@navy.mil


Program Funding

Submit white papers, QUAD charts and full proposals for contracts to this email address: ONR Code 35 Research Submissions

Follow instructions within BAA for submission of grant proposals to grants.gov website.

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