Thrust vectoring is a requirement for fifth generation fighters, giving them super-maneuverability capabilities, allowing them to execute tactical maneuvers that are not possible using conventional aerodynamic mechanisms. The most widely used and successful method for achieving this is by using gimbaled engines or nozzles. The complexities involved in this method, have encouraged future engine designers to explore different avenues for achieving thrust vectoring, one of which is fluidic thrust vectoring. In fluidic thrust vectoring, jet deflection is achieved by fluid injection at various locations on the nozzle.
During thrust vectoring operations, the engine performance is affected. This is primarily due to the change in effective nozzle area. When a nozzle is gimbaled, as is the method used in currently operational thrust vectored engines, or during fluidic thrust vectoring operations, there is a change in effective nozzle area. This impacts the engine mass flow rate, thus affecting the engine operation. The change in performance is similar to that of an engine fitted with a variable area nozzle.
In this study, we attempted to retrofit a thrust vectoring nozzle to an existing engine designed for a fourth-generation fighter aircraft, in order to give it fifth-generation fighter aircraft capabilities. A Twin spool mixed flow turbofan engine with a convergent nozzle is selected and its performance is simulated using Gasturb 13. The baseline engine consists of a low pressure spool, high pressure spool, combustion chamber and convergent-divergent nozzle. For the sake of simplicity, the convergent-divergent nozzle is replaced with a convergent nozzle, with no loss in thrust at design point. The design point is arrived at based on engine data available in open literature. Following this, offdesign performance is simulated, for studying the effect of thrust vectoring operations, which are modeled as a nozzle area change. Suitably scaled generic maps provided in Gasturb are used for off-design simulations. The effect of nozzle area change on engine performance is studied at sea level static conditions. The nozzle area is decreased by a maximum of 15%, in steps of 1%. During thrust vectoring operations, there is a significant change in bypass ratio and fan surge margin, with the other performance parameters being relatively constant.
Following this, simulations are conducted at different flight conditions to understand the effect of nozzle area change for different flight regimes. A total of seven different flight conditions are selected to understand the operational envelope of thrust vectoring operation. It is found that at all flight conditions, thrust vectoring has a significant influence on bypass ratio and fan surge margin. While for most conditions, there is an improvement in fan surge margin, there are two conditions where fan surge margin decreases substantially.