Journal of Systems Engineering and Electronics ›› 2023, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (6): 1375-1396.doi: 10.23919/JSEE.2023.000153


Two-layer formation-containment fault-tolerant control of fixed-wing UAV swarm for dynamic target tracking

Boyu QIN1,2(), Dong ZHANG1,2,*(), Shuo TANG1,2(), Yang XU3()   

  1. 1 School of Astronautics, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an 710072, China
    2 Shaanxi Aerospace Flight Vehicle Design Key Laboratory, Xi’an 710072, China
    3 School of Civil Aviation, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an 710072, China
  • Received:2023-06-11 Online:2023-12-18 Published:2023-12-29
  • Contact: Dong ZHANG;;;
  • About author:
    QIN Boyu was born in 2000. He received his B.S. degree from Northwestern Polytechnical University, China in 2021. He currently pursues his Ph.D. degree at the School of Astronautics, Northwestern Polytechnical University, China. His research interests include cooperative planning, guidance and control of the intelligent flight vehicle swarm. E-mail:

    ZHANG Dong was born in 1986. He received his Ph.D. degree from the School of Astronautics, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi ’an, China, in 2013. He is currently an associate professor and doctoral supervisor of Northwestern Polytechnical University. He is also a visiting professor of the Key Laboratory of Complex System Control and Intelligent Collaborative Technology. His research interests include dynamic modeling and control of aerospace vehicles, high-speed aircraft swarms combat mission planning, and collaborative guidance and control. E-mail:

    TANG Shuo was born in 1963. He received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees from Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an, China, in 1982, 1985, and 1988, respectively. He is currently a professor with the School of Astronautics, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an. His current research interests include aerospace vehicle design, flight dynamics, flight simulation, and virtual prototype technology. E-mail:

    XU Yang was born in 1987. He received his Ph.D. degree from Xiamen University, Xiamen, China, in 2019. He has been a visiting Ph.D. student at National University of Singapore from 2016 to 2018, and a research fellow at Westlake University from 2019 to 2020. Now, he is an associate professor in School of Civil Aviation, Northwestern Polytechnical University. His research interests include control theory and application of multiple robotic systems. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (61933010) and the Natural Science Basic Research Plan in Shaanxi Province of China (2023-JC-QN-0733).


This paper tackles the formation-containment control problem of fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) swarm with model uncertainties for dynamic target tracking in three-dimensional space in the faulty case of UAVs ’ actuator and sensor. The fixed-wing UAV swarm under consideration is organized as a “multi-leader-multi-follower” structure, in which only several leaders can obtain the dynamic target information while others only receive the neighbors’ information through the communication network. To simultaneously realize the formation, containment, and dynamic target tracking, a two-layer control framework is adopted to decouple the problem into two subproblems: reference trajectory generation and trajectory tracking. In the upper layer, a distributed finite-time estimator (DFTE) is proposed to generate each UAV ’s reference trajectory in accordance with the control objective. Subsequently, a distributed composite robust fault-tolerant trajectory tracking controller is developed in the lower layer, where a novel adaptive extended super-twisting (AESTW) algorithm with a finite-time extended state observer (FTESO) is involved in solving the robust trajectory tracking control problem under model uncertainties, actuator, and sensor faults. The proposed controller simultaneously guarantees rapidness and enhances the system ’s robustness with fewer chattering effects. Finally, corresponding simulations are carried out to demonstrate the effectiveness and competitiveness of the proposed two-layer fault-tolerant cooperative control scheme.

Key words: fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) swarm, two-layer control, formation-containment, dynamic target tracking