Graduation assignments Production and Logistics

2015-04 MSc assignment: information analysis for unmanned combat aircraft

Master assignment: information analysis for unmanned combat aircraft


In the past decades, thousands of unmanned aircraft (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs) were built. They are used for surveillance, inspection of oil pipelines, and other purposes. UAVs can also carry weapons and are then called Unmanned Combat Aerial Vehicles or UCAVs. Present-day UCAVs are only suitable for attacking targets on the ground, not targets in the air, and then only if there is no serious enemy opposition. The main reason for this is that UCAVs cannot react well to unexpected situations. Controlling these aircraft from the ground is cumbersome; the UCAV basically has to fly a largely pre-determined course.

The University of Twente (UT) and the National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) are developing a control system that should make UCAVs at least as flexible as manned aircraft; the Semi-Direct Control System or SDCS. This should make it possible to employ UCAVs in new roles, and even give them major advantages over manned aircraft with regard to, for example, maneuverability and endurance. These attributes should make SDCS-equipped UCAVs especially useful for engaging so-called air targets: manned and unmanned enemy aircraft, helicopters and cruise missiles. The information, necessary for the UCAV to function and for the controller on the ground, has not yet been thoroughly investigated.

The assignment

Determine the contents and frequency of the information the SDCS-equipped UCAV needs to function in air-to-air engagements. Determine the contents and frequency of the information the controller needs to operate the UCAV. Investigate for both information streams dependencies, e.g., on the intelligence the UCAV can be equipped with, its general configuration, the task it is performing, the state of affairs in Human Factors, and so on. Document the way in which you execute this assignment in the form of a methodology that can be used in future studies.

This assignment can be split up in the following actions:

  1. Determine the factors the contents and frequency of information from UCAV to controller and vice versa depend on;
  2. Determine the relation between these factors and the information streams;
  3. Create an example scenario in which these factors can be filled in. Determine, based on the results from the foregoing, the information needed and the frequency in which it has to be transmitted in this scenario;
  4. Create a (desktop) simulation to verify and/or illustrate the foregoing;
  5. Based on your work, formalize a general methodology for assessing the information needs of SDCS-equipped UCAVs.


NLR, Amsterdam.


As soon as possible.

What kind of student are we looking for?

Discipline: Computer Science.
Passion: aerospace.
Competencies: quick understanding of new knowledge, able to integrate various disciplines, able to communicate with experts without being one, a certain creativity.

More information

Dr. Hans Heerkens, UT, phone: +31-53-4893493, email: