Army to define common operating environment for FACE Consortium avionics work

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala., 23 Feb. 2012. U.S. Army aviation officials are reaching out to industry for ideas on developing open-systems helicopter avionics hardware and software that will help cut costs and reduce maintenance requirements by increasing competition among defense contractors, reusing avionics components, and promoting rapid technology insertion for avionics system upgrades.

The Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command (RDECOM) Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC) at Redstone Arsenal, Ala., released a request for information (W58RGZ-12-R-0270) Tuesday for the Future Airborne Capabilities Environment (FACE) Reference Common Operating Environment (COE) project to create an open avionics architecture that will function as a laboratory-based prototype to support avionics development, testing, and demonstration.

This project is part of efforts of a consortium of military and industry avionics experts called the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) Consortium, which is part of the Open Group. The FACE consortium seeks to capitalize on continuing software innovations quickly and more affordably in the face of current and future U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) budget cuts.

AMRDEC's FACE COE project has a general interest in developing efficient and inexpensive helicopter avionics applicable to a wide variety of rotorcraft and other vertical-lift aircraft, as well as a specific interest in eliminating proprietary black-box stove-piped avionics subsystems that are costly to upgrade and maintain. The FACE COE project seeks to do this by integrating and certifying avionics at a higher level of abstraction than is done today.

The common operating environment that Army experts expect to result from the FACE COE project must conform to the technical standard for the FACE Reference Architecture, version 1.0. AMRDEC experts will acquire and host third-party software components on the FACE reference COE to analyze FACE acquisition strategies, integration approaches, and airworthiness certification.

The FACE Consortium formed, in part, to meet a DOD need to develop common aircraft architecture and subsystems with an emphasis on commonality for use across the next generation of military vertical-lift aircraft. AMRDEC is one of 39 FACE Consortium members, which include Lockheed Martin, U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, Rockwell Collins, and the Army program executive office for aviation.

AMRDEC's FACE COE project seeks to capitalize on existing, proven industry technology to develop a FACE reference COE, which should include one bus-based computer with at least two fault redundant MIL-STD-1553 databuses; three Ethernet ports; four configurable RS-232, RS-422, or RS-48 serial ports; one card with four computer processors supported by at least two ARINC-653 real-time operating system (RTOS) software vendors; spare card slots for additional processors; one 28-volt embedded power supply; one graphics card with support for FACE graphics services; and commercial-grade hardware with equivalent military-avionics-grade hardware.

FACE COE software should have an ARINC-653 operating system; two different guest real time operating systems hosted in the ARINC-653 operating system; board support packages (BSP) and FACE I/O services for exposing hardware capabilities on each RTOS; simple RTOS IPC based FACE transport services implementation; advanced middleware-based FACE Transport Services; and FACE graphics service.

Companies interested in submitting information on their capabilities should send responses no longer than 25 typed pages detailing their proposed processor, communications, card expansion bus, power and electrical approach, and physical considerations, as well as a description of the proposed software approach.

Respond to AMRDEC's David Boyett no later than 15 March 2012 by e-mail at For questions or concerns contact AMRDEC's Ruth Woodham by e-mail at No contracts will be awarded based on this request for information.

More information is online at

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