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Canard control

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[Tail control]
[Canard control]
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Canard control is also quite commonly used, especially on short-range air-to-air missiles like AIM-9M Sidewinder. The primary advantage of canard control is better maneuverability at low angles of attack, but canards tend to become ineffective at high angles of attack because of flow separation that causes the surfaces to stall. Since canards are ahead of the center of gravity, they cause a destabilizing effect and require large fixed tails to keep the missile stable. These two sets of fins usually provide sufficient lift to make wings unnecessary. Shown below are twelve examples of canard control missiles.

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Missiles with canard control
Missiles with canard control

A further subset of canard control missiles is the split canard. Split canards are a relatively new development that has found application on the latest generation of short-range air-to-air missiles like Python 4 and the Russian AA-11. The term split canard refers to the fact that the missile has two sets of canards in close proximity, usually one immediately behind the other. The first canard is fixed while the second set is movable. The advantage of this arrangement is that the first set of canards generates strong, energetic vortices that increase the speed of the airflow over the second set of canards making them more effective. In addition, the vortices delay flow separation and allow the canards to reach higher angles of attack before stalling. This high angle of attack performance gives the missile much greater maneuverability compared to a missile with single canard control. Six examples of split canard missiles are shown below.


Missiles with split canard control
Missiles with split canard control

Many smart bombs also use canard control systems. Most notable of these are laser guided bombs such as the Paveway series.

NexT   {Wing Control}


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Last modified: 10/12/05.