F-35 CFD Simulation by ANSYS Fluent (Compressible Flow)

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This project is going to study a supersonic compressible flow adjacent to an F-35 plane.

This product includes a Mesh file and a comprehensive Training Movie.

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The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is an American family of single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth multirole combat aircraft. It is also able to provide electronic warfare and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities. Interestingly, the F-35 speed could reach 500 m/s, which results in supersonic airflow.

Therefore, actual case wind tunnel experiments are expensive in terms of both costs and time, so CFD solvers are often employed to evaluate for initial tests.

Project Description

This project is going to study a supersonic compressible flow adjacent to an F-35 plane. The geometry is a 20-meter F-35 plane inside a 150-meter wind tunnel. The air is considered a compressible ideal gas, and the Mach number of 2.0 was achieved at the maximum speed of 544 m/s. Also, the drag force and the shock profiles were obtained during the study.

Mathematical Modeling

To study the current problem, one must solve the flow equations in the differential form. Also, the non-isothermal, compressible ideal gas condition was assumed inside the wind tunnel. Therefore, the Energy equation was also solved in addition to the flow and the turbulent equations. Briefly, the governing mass and momentum equations are written as follows:


Geometry and Mesh

As a numerical study, the initial step towards the modeling is the production of the CAD geometry, depicted below. The blue face is considered as the inlet of the domain, while the red face on the other side is considered the outlet.


For the current problem, the element number is equal to 7,182,542, to represent the geometry. Regarding the quality of the mesh, the maximum skewness of 0.79 with an average of 0.22 is a satisfactory mesh for the current problem. In addition, for an interested reader, we show the quality distribution of mesh as follows. Also, 25 prism layers were added adjacent to both water tunnel walls and the turbine’s body to accurately calculate the boundary layer. Finally, the mesh is generated through ANSYS-Meshing and is as below. Finally, the mesh was converted to Polyhedral in the FLUENT software, and it was reduced to 1,845,364 elements with the same quality.


Simulation Settings

By importing the mesh into the ANSYS-FLUENT solver, we start the calculation procedure. The Details of the solution setup are as follows:

Solver settings:
Type: Density-based
Time setting: Steady-state
Energy: On
Model: k-w-SST
Zone: fluid zone: Rectangular Box: default
Boundary conditions: F-35 Walls: No-slip

Inlet: velocity inlet: 544 m/s

Outlet: pressure outlet

FarWalls: Symmetry

Solver Properties:
Solution methods: Implicit Rho-DS
Pressure interpolation scheme: Second-Order
Momentum: First -Order
Turbulence: First-Order
Relaxation: Default, Number of Iterations = 1000
Initialization: Standard > from inlet
Material used:
Fluid: Air – constant properties

Density: Ideal Gas kg/(m3)

Viscosity: 0.001003 (Pa.s)

Monitor: Drag Value of Plane wall in X-direction

 Results and Discussions

After the solution convergence, we observe the results through post-processing. Meanwhile, as an assurance for a valid convergence, we monitor the drag value during the solution iterations. In this study, the solution was a converged one when the drag force reached a constant rate, and the residuals were below 10-6 values.

Afterward, we present the results regarding the pressure and the velocity field in the figures. Furthermore, we can observe the shock profile from both pressure and the Mach number contours.

For the velocity field, we represent both contour and streamlinesto give much insight into the problem. Also, we present the temperature gradient and its variations in different locations because the increase in temperature is important in aerodynamic compressible flow calculations.

Finally, we calculate the drag force at 181.66 (kN), which is accurate for a 20-meter airplane with the noted specifications.

There are a Mesh file and a comprehensive Training Movie that presents how to solve the problem and extract all desired results.


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