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Do Fighters Have Autopilot Like Commercial Planes  
User currently offlinekric777 From United States of America, joined Jun 2002, 279 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 2 months 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 6089 times:
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Probably a stupid question, but I was wondering if air-to-air combat fighters have autopilot packages that will control the aircraft to the extent that commercial planes do (i.e. basically takeoff to landing) ? On one hand, it would stand to reason that there would be an advantage for an F-15 / MiG-29 driver to be able to plug in an altitude, speed, and heading to get them to within a certain distance of the "hot zone", and then take over the controls before the s##t hits the fan. In the meantime, they can be more carefully monitoring the radar and radio traffic to get a feel for what's going on in the battle zone. Then, once mission completed and flying home, and the driver is jacked-up on adrenaline, the plane could fly itself back to within a few miles of home-base.

13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinelegs From Australia, joined Jun 2006, 235 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (1 year 2 months 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6049 times:

The autopilot in most fighters is very similar to commercial planes, if not arguably slightly more powerful. Just like a commercial plane, a fighter will dutifully follow the preprogrammed flight plan the pilots have loaded, which on most current models includes altitude and mach/airspeed.

The pilot can also manually program the autopilot to hold a set mach, set altitude, set attitude and often best cruise speed and best range.

A fully automated takeoff isn't part of any military autopilot I know of, but modern carrier based jets certainly have a full auto-land routine.


User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12128 posts, RR: 52
Reply 2, posted (1 year 2 months 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6009 times:

Carrier borne aircraft have a sort of autopilot T/O mode from the CV. The pilot sets the power and then grabs the hand rails on the canopy so the cat operator can see his hands are clear. A cat T/O has several G forces and if the pilot was holding the stick, he would point the jet almost straight up as he inadvertently pulls the stick back due to Gs.

User currently offlineautothrust From Switzerland, joined Jun 2006, 1585 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (1 year 2 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 5762 times:

There are fighter planes like the Typhoon which have much more extensive autopilot capabilities like :

Auto-Climb, Auto-Take Off, Auto-Approach, Auto-Attack, Auto-CAP, Auto-Attackformation, Auto-Intercept, Panic Mode etc.. some of these Modes can be activated by Voice command.

The autopilot is an integrated part of the pilot's tactical control.



“Faliure is not an option.”
User currently offlineKC135Hydraulics From United States of America, joined Nov 2012, 289 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 2 months 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 5470 times:

Quoting autothrust (Reply 3):

I'm curious what the panic mode does!


User currently offlinetommytoyz From Tonga, joined Jan 2007, 1353 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (1 year 2 months 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 5379 times:

Quoting KC135Hydraulics (Reply 4):
I'm curious what the panic mode does!

Pinches you so that you wake up and realize it was all just a dream....


User currently offlinefrancoflier From France, joined Oct 2001, 3712 posts, RR: 11
Reply 6, posted (1 year 2 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 5343 times:

New gen fighters are all FBW anyhow. An elaborate autopilot is just a matter of software these days.


Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit posting...
User currently offlineautothrust From Switzerland, joined Jun 2006, 1585 posts, RR: 9
Reply 7, posted (1 year 2 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 5247 times:

Quoting KC135Hydraulics (Reply 4):
I'm curious what the panic mode does!

In the case the pilot looses orientation, he can push a button wich executes a emergency stabilisation of the plane.

That means the FCS takes full control of the engines and flying controls, and automatically stabilises the aircraft in a wings level, gentle climbing attitude at 300 knots, until the pilot is ready to re-take control.

When the safe speed envelope has been reached the autopilot executes a Auto Low Speed Recovery.



“Faliure is not an option.”
User currently offlinemig21umd From Australia, joined Feb 2005, 267 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (1 year 2 months 4 days 13 hours ago) and read 5240 times:

Quoting autothrust (Reply 3):
There are fighter planes like the Typhoon which have much more extensive autopilot capabilities like :

Auto-Climb, Auto-Take Off, Auto-Approach, Auto-Attack, Auto-CAP, Auto-Attackformation, Auto-Intercept, Panic Mode etc.. some of these Modes can be activated by Voice command.

The autopilot is an integrated part of the pilot's tactical control.

Looks like the new generation of fighter planes have a pretty good auto pilot system but I do not think that was entirely true with 4th generation fighters. Talking with a RAAF FA 18 pilot about this he told me that all they had in terms of auto pilot was heading and attitude (not altitude) hold.



Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you long to return
User currently offlineautothrust From Switzerland, joined Jun 2006, 1585 posts, RR: 9
Reply 9, posted (1 year 2 months 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 5189 times:

Quoting mig21umd (Reply 8):
Looks like the new generation of fighter planes have a pretty good auto pilot system but I do not think that was entirely true with 4th generation fighters.

The autopilot capabilities i've posted are alone from the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Still many "experts" here think its a outdated 4th generation fighter.



“Faliure is not an option.”
User currently offlinesprout5199 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 1849 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (1 year 2 months 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5176 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):
A cat T/O has several G forces and if the pilot was holding the stick, he would point the jet almost straight up as he inadvertently pulls the stick back due to Gs.

IIRC the only jet that has it is the F-18 family, all the others are manual T/O. And also IIRC it can land itself, not that any pilot will let it.

Dan in Jupiter


User currently offlineRussianJet From Belgium, joined Jul 2007, 7687 posts, RR: 21
Reply 11, posted (1 year 2 months 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 5022 times:
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Quoting autothrust (Reply 7):
In the case the pilot looses orientation, he can push a button wich executes a emergency stabilisation of the plane.

That makes good sense. Initially it sounded like setting 'panic mode' would send the plane hurtling round in circles for no good reason, rather than doing anything constructive!



✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlineautothrust From Switzerland, joined Jun 2006, 1585 posts, RR: 9
Reply 12, posted (1 year 2 months 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 4880 times:

Quoting mig21umd (Reply 8):
Talking with a RAAF FA 18 pilot about this he told me that all they had in terms of auto pilot was heading and attitude (not altitude) hold.

That's true for many planes, inclusive the A-10C Warthog. Really a rudimentary autopilot functions.

The sophisticated auto-pilot functions i posted, are there to reduce the pilot workload as much as possible.

For example when you enable Auto-Intercept the computer calculates the best heading and speed(also with EMCON and best kinetic energy) for the target, at the same time it selects the best suited weapon.



“Faliure is not an option.”
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12128 posts, RR: 52
Reply 13, posted (1 year 2 months 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 4763 times:

Quoting sprout5199 (Reply 10):
Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 2):A cat T/O has several G forces and if the pilot was holding the stick, he would point the jet almost straight up as he inadvertently pulls the stick back due to Gs.
IIRC the only jet that has it is the F-18 family, all the others are manual T/O. And also IIRC it can land itself, not that any pilot will let it.

Dan in Jupiter

Thanks Dan, I didn't know the F/A-18 also had an auto-land. I would have thought the F-14 also has some for of T/O mode from a cat-shoot. I know the F-4 did not.


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