Smiths Industries to provide analog/digital gateway on Lockheed Martin JSF aircraft

By John Keller

FARNBOROUGH, England — Avionics designers at Smiths Industries Aerospace are set to build at least four avionics subsystems for the Lockheed Martin entry in the competition to build the future Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

One of these systems is a software-programmable interface unit that will serve as the JSF's electronic gateway between the aircraft's analog subsystems such as sensors and actuators, and its digital subsystems such as the flight and mission computers.

This gateway device is called the JSF Vehicle Management System Remote Input/Output Unit — better known as RIO. Developing this 6-by-6-inch module that is 1.1 inches thick, are designers at the Smiths Aerospace group in Cheltenham, England. The RIO "does analog to digital conversion, helps flight computers talk to flight actuators, and gives the right amount of power to sensors and other subsystems," says Paul Capener, New product development manager, vehicle management systems at Smiths.

Smiths Industries designers also are providing the Lockheed Martin JSF with its Tactical Data Equipment, Stores Management System Fuselage Remote Interface Unit, and with Hamilton-Sundstrand is providing the Lockheed Martin JSF with its Electrical Power System.

A big advantage of the Smiths JSF RIO is its backward compatibility, which makes it strong candidate not only for new aircraft, but also for upgrades to existing platforms, Capener explained at the Farnborough Air Show last July in Farnborough, England.

The JSF RIO comes from the Smiths Industries RIU-100 commercial off-the-shelf interface, which also is the basis for the Smiths proposed engine-control system on the Boeing Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle and the electrical load-management system on the Boeing 777x jumbo twinjet airliner, Capener says.

At the heart of the JSF RIO is a library of standard software that can implement virtually control algorithm, Capener explains. The library contains a table structure that can call up a variety of electronic modules. The unit also contains a commercial microcontroller.

"We designed the unit to deal with obsolescence, where we can replace chips with any other generic building block and maintain our functionality," Capener says.

The JSF RIO has 100 channels and has a dual-redundant MIL-STD-1553B remote terminal. Avionics designers can use the unit either as a remote data concentrator, a controller for power distribution panels, or as a subsystem controller.

As a remote data concentrator the unit can help designers reduce the amount of aircraft wiring and provide signal conditional for system processors. As a power controller, it provides remote power switching, software logic interlocking, status monitoring, and data bus interfacing. As a subsystem controller, the unit can do closed loop control, execute external commands, and provide aircraft health and status information to other systems via its data bus interface.

For more information contact Smiths Industries Aerospace by phone at 011-44-1242-661-520, by fax at 011-44-1242-661-155, by post at Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham, Glos GL52 4SF, United Kingdom, or on the World Wide Web at

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August 2015
Volume 26, Issue 8

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