Power Electronics in Defense and Aerospace


Power electronics has become a vital part of any automated or semi automated device. It has become nearly impossible to name an area where power electronics does not find its application. You may find the various applications of power electronics such as automobiles, renewable energy sources etc., covered in the series of blogs. Here, we will be looking at its application in Defense and Aerospace.

The use of power devices and drives in military and aerospace has been researched from decades, and successful implementation and development in new technologies can be seen. Power electronics find wide range of applications in aerospace and defense, like power drive controls, landing gear and defensive aids systems (DAS) engine systems and controls, flight control, navigation, cabin lighting, avionics, and communications. Signal processing for modern military radars, avionics, weapon systems, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) payloads and missile controls use processing power that emits tremendous amounts of heat. . Efficient power electronics help to reduce heat and improve performance.

Today the aerospace and defense (A&D) sector is witnessing the ongoing struggle to reduce size, weight, power, and cost, while at the same time increasing command, communications, intelligence, and surveillance capabilities. Advance components such as gallium nitride (GaN)- or silicon carbide (SiC)-based semiconductors are being developed to meet the size and performance requirements.

Most satellites are based on advanced solar cells with an efficiency of about 30% and lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. When the distance between sun and the satellite increases or the satellite enters a low solar coverage zone, it needs to be powered by batteries with higher durability.

Here, the efficiency of converters and the optimal utilization of power plays an important role. One of the most essential tasks of energy conditioning is, therefore, to optimally control the power exchanges between the solar generator, the battery, and the loads. This means ensuring that the power delivered to the loads remains within the voltage range that they can accept, sizing the solar array so that the battery can be recharged while the spacecraft equipment is powered. Because the power system is the only resource for the spacecraft, it must be protected from failures that could degrade it or even put it out of service, especially in short-circuit situations.

A few power efficient techniques and technologies have been discussed in following stories. The need for reduction in size, power and increase in efficiency and durability of power devices in defense and aerospace is never ending. A few researches such as wide- band gap devices have been deployed and has a bright future. But the increase in the reliability of these devices needs to be studied. Aspects such as cosmos radiation should also be taken into consideration while designing devices for space applications. Similarly in defense applications factors such as thermal electromagnetic radiation, withstanding capacity should not be ignored while designing.

For this, it is necessary for the Power Electronics Community to continue to embrace these new devices and technologies, but also to consider carefully how best to apply them.


[1]Peter R. Wilson, “Advanced Aircraft Power Electronics Systems — the impact of simulation, standards and wide band-gap devices ”, CES Transactions on Electrical Machines and Systems ( Volume: 1 , Issue: 1 , March 2017 ).

[2] John Keller, “Power electronics designers look to the future”, www.militaryaerospace.com, Nov 1st, 2002

[3] M. David Kankam, “A Survey of Power Electronics Applications in Aerospace Technologies”, 36th Intersociety Energy Conversion Engineering Conference cosponsored by the ASME, IEEE, AlChE, ANS, SAE, and AlAA Savannah, Georgia, July 29- August 2, 2001

[4]Maurizio Di Paolo Emilio, “Power Technology for Aerospace Systems”, powerelectronicsnews.com, April 19, 2019