The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Modeling and On-Line Solution of Air Combat Optimization Problems and Games

Janne Karelahti

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Engineering Physics and Mathematics for public examination and debate in Auditorium E at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 18th of January, 2008, at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 978-951-22-9108-3)   [380 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-951-22-9107-6)


The thesis deals with the guidance and control of a fighter aircraft in air combat. From the modeling perspective, the thesis formulates realistic air combat optimization problems and games in which inherent uncertainties of air combat are taken into account. From the solution perspective, the thesis develops on-line methods for the near-optimal feedback solution of the constructed models. The solution methods are based mostly on receding horizon control, where computational savings are achieved by using a truncated planning horizon. Considering single-sided optimization problems, the thesis presents a new approach for the guidance of an aircraft avoiding a homing air combat missile. The approach is applicable with various avoidance criteria that exploit different weaknesses of the missile system. In addition, a novel way based on Bayesian reasoning for taking into account the target's uncertainty about the guidance law of the missile is introduced. An approach and its software implementation for the user-oriented computation of realistic near-optimal aircraft trajectories are presented as well. The software can be used to assess the quality and realism of the solutions provided by the introduced guidance schemes. Considering games, the thesis presents an influence diagram game modeling a dogfight between two aircraft and develops a method for the on-line optimization of the aircraft's controls in such a setting. The game formulation enables the consideration of preferences, perception, and beliefs in air combat. In addition, a new game model and an on-line solution scheme providing game optimal support time of the missile in a missile duel is introduced. Considering practical implementation, the introduced models and solution methods could be further developed and consolidated in an onboard guidance system or in a pilot advisory system.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 5 publications:

  1. Karelahti, J., Virtanen, K., and Raivio, T., Near-Optimal Missile Avoidance Trajectories via Receding Horizon Control, Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, Vol. 30, No. 5, 2007, pp. 1287-1298. © 2007 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). By permission.
  2. Karelahti, J. and Virtanen, K., Adaptive Controller for the Avoidance of an Unknownly Guided Air Combat Missile, Proceedings of the 46th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control, 2007. © 2007 IEEE. By permission.
  3. Karelahti, J., Virtanen, K., and Öström, J., Automated Generation of Realistic Near-Optimal Aircraft Trajectories, Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, accepted for publication. © 2008 by authors and © 2008 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). By permission.
  4. Virtanen, K., Karelahti, J., and Raivio, T., Modeling Air Combat by a Moving Horizon Influence Diagram Game, Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, Vol. 29, No. 5, 2006, pp. 1080-1091. © 2006 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). By permission.
  5. Karelahti, J., Virtanen, K., and Raivio, T., Game Optimal Support Time of a Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile, Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, Vol. 29, No. 5, 2006, pp. 1061-1069. © 2006 American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). By permission.

Keywords: air combat, missile avoidance, computational optimal control, game theory, receding horizon control, adaptive control, Bayesian reasoning, influence diagram, inverse simulation

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© 2008 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26