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Missile Autopilots course

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Technical Training Short On Site Course Quote

This applications-oriented course provides an introduction to the design and analysis of endoatmospheric and exoatmospheric missile autopilots. The course includes an overview of the necessary mathematical preliminaries for missile motion and autopilot design in both the time and frequency domains, including optimal control. This introductory material is followed by a discussion of modern missile autopilot design topics including hardware modeling, autopilot design requirements, and examples. The remainder of the course focuses on 'real world' autopilot areas, such as adaptive autopilots, modern control autopilot design, nonlinearities, gain scheduling, discretization, and other advanced concepts. Examples are included throughout the course.
Registrations are restricted to US citizens.


Dr. Walter R. Dyer is a graduate of UCLA, with a Ph.D. degree in Control Systems Engineering and Applied Mathematics. He has over thirty years of industry, government and academic experience in the analysis and design of tactical and strategic missiles. His experience includes Standard Missile, Stinger, AMRAAM, HARM, MX, Small ICBM, and ballistic missile defense. He is currently a Senior Staff Member at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and was formerly the Chief Technologist at the Missile Defense Agency in Washington, DC. He has authored numerous industry and government reports and published prominent papers on missile technology. He has also taught university courses in engineering at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Contact this instructor (please mention course name in the subject line)

What you will learn:

  • The underlying physics of missile dynamics.
  • Theory and applications for autopilot design and optimization.
  • Autopilot implementation approaches.
  • Applications to real-world missile systems.
  • Fundamentals for autopilot design and analysis with emphasis on linear systems.
  • Missile dynamics including aerodynamic modeling.
  • Autopilot feedback, feedback design criteria, and types of feedback.
  • Autopilot hardware modeling including actuators, gyros, and accelerometers.
  • Pitch Autopilot analysis and design.
  • Pitch-Yaw-Roll autopilot analysis.
  • Exoatmospheric kill vehicle autopilot design and analysis.
  • Advanced design and analysis techniques.

Course Outline:

  1. Overview of Missiles and Missile Autopilots — Definitions, types of missiles, missile systems and subsystems, skid-to-turn missiles, bank-to-turn missiles,types of autopilots, missile tail control, wing control, canard control, and thrust-vector control.

  2. Analytical Methods—Mathematics of missile motion and simplification techniques. Coordinate Systems, transformations, linearization, and aerodynamics.Introduction to classical and modern control.

  3. Linear Systems — State variables, block diagrams, Laplace transforms, transfer functions, impulse response, step response, stability, first order, second order,and higher order system modeling.

  4. Feedback Control — Need for feedback, design criteria, types of autopilotfeedback, autopilot design using optimal control theory.

  5. Autopilot Hardware — Actuators, principles of mechanical gyros, ring lasergyros and fiber optics gyros,principles and types of accelerometers, gyro and accelerometer modeling, description of inertial measurement units and GPS aiding.

  6. Pitch and Yaw Autopilot Design — Time and frequency-domain design, optimal control design, ratefeedback, acceleration and rate feedback, three-loop autopilot.

  7. Roll Autopilot Design—Time and frequency domain design of roll rate and roll angle-controlled autopilots, induced roll moments, description of rolling airframe missiles.

  8. Missile Guidance—Classical and modern missile guidance techniques and guidance laws. Missile guidance relationship to autopilots.

  9. Introduction to Advanced Topics—Adaptive autopilots, limitations of linear system analysis and nonlinearities, roll-yaw coupling,body modes, hinge moments, actuator saturation, gain scheduling.

  10. Exoatmospheric Autopilot Design—Exoatmospneric kill vehicles, pulse width modulation, divert and attitude control systems, feedback in exoatmospheric kill vehicles, limit cycles, examples.


    Tuition for this three-day course is $1740 per person at one of our scheduled public courses. Onsite pricing is available. Please call us at 410-956-8805 or send an email to