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Siding Mode Control of Pitch-Rate of an F-16 Aircraft

Authors: Ekprasit Promtun, Sridhar Seshagiri


This paper considers the control of the longitudinal flight dynamics of an F-16 aircraft. The primary design objective is model-following of the pitch rate q, which is the preferred system for aircraft approach and landing. Regulation of the aircraft velocity V (or the Mach-hold autopilot) is also considered, but as a secondary objective. The problem is challenging because the system is nonlinear, and also non-affine in the input. A sliding mode controller is designed for the pitch rate, that exploits the modal decomposition of the linearized dynamics into its short-period and phugoid approximations. The inherent robustness of the SMC design provides a convenient way to design controllers without gain scheduling, with a steady-state response that is comparable to that of a conventional polynomial based gain-scheduled approach with integral control, but with improved transient performance. Integral action is introduced in the sliding mode design using the recently developed technique of “conditional integrators", and it is shown that robust regulation is achieved with asymptotically constant exogenous signals, without degrading the transient response. Through extensive simulation on the nonlinear multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) longitudinal model of the F-16 aircraft, it is shown that the conditional integrator design outperforms the one based on the conventional linear control, without requiring any scheduling.

Keywords: Sliding-mode Control, Integral Control, Model Following, F-16 Longitudinal Dynamics, Pitch-Rate Control.

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