Traditional drones have huge moving flaps and ailerons for control and actuation of flight. A solution where these large moving control surfaces are no longer necessary will prove to be revolutionary on so many levels. BAE Systems has collaborated with the University of Manchester in creating a drone, that will be controlled by a supersonic jet of air released from its wings. This drone, called MAGMA has been successfully tested and with further developments, this will be a ground-breaking development in the aviation industry.

MAGMA drone

The two most important features of MAGMA

Replacing the traditional moving flaps for flight control, the wing circulation control system of this drone will draw air from the drone’s engine and blast it at supersonic speed through the trailing end of the drone’s wings. Similarly, to control the direction of flight, the drone will use a fluidic thrust vectoring component which will blow air to deflect the engine’s thrust. This system will replace the traditional rudder system to control the direction of flight. These two systems will offer the drone endless possibilities and capabilities, owing to the design without any moving control surfaces. The wing circulation control system and the fluidic thrust vectoring component will enable the drone to maneuver only using supersonic blasts of air and no traditional moving control surfaces whatsoever.

MAGMA stealth drone

Advantages of removing moving control surfaces

The overall design of any aerial vehicle can be largely lightened by removing the need for moving controlled surfaces. Also, the size of the drone will be drastically reduced. Hence the aerodynamic properties of the drone will be enhanced, and the drone will become potentially faster and more maneuvrable even at higher speeds. This can also remove the potential points of failure that may cause the drone to collapse out of control.

MAGMA drone take-off
Magma drone during its test flight

Stealth Capabilities

Crowning all these incredibly useful features, the design of the drone without any moving parts gives the drone stealth operation capabilities. This is because the flaps and ailerons, joints and gaps that are incorporated in designs with moving control surfaces are the main components that reflect RADAR waves. These components often reveal their presence on the enemy RADAR. Eliminating such components will greatly reduce the observability of these drones. Thus, MAGMA is a very important breakthrough in the aviation industry – both commercially and for military purposes.

MAGMA drone