RUGGED COMPUTERS: Navy chooses rugged embedded computers from Ballard Technology for LCS ship modules

U.S. Navy electronics designers needed rugged embedded computers for mission module packages aboard the Navy's Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). They found their solution from Ballard Technology Inc. in Everett, Wash.

Officials of the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division in Panama City, Fla., have announced their intention to award a sole-source contract to Ballard for nine AB3100H embedded computers for the LCS Multiple Vehicle Communications System (MVCS) shipboard electronics.

The MVCS is for communications between the LCS surface ship and different mission packages involving mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, and surface warfare.

The MVCS supports communications between the surface mother ship and mission package vehicles that are part of the Remote Multi-Mission Vehicle (RMMV) unmanned vehicle, and the LCS's Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS), which provides stand-off, long-endurance, semi-autonomous minesweeping capability to counter acoustic and magnetic influence sea mines in shallow waters along coasts and harbors.

Ballard Technology, an Astronics company, provides the AB3100H rugged computer, which is part of the company's AB3000 line of small, lightweight embedded computers designed for integration into aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and ground vehicles.

The Ballard AB3000 rugged embedded computers come with the Intel E680T processor, MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC 429/708/717 interfaces, Ethernet, USB, video, audio, and PMC expansion. The AB3100H computer that the Navy is buying for the LCS MVCS comes without the avionics I/O that comes standard with the AB3000.

The AB3000 series from Ballard comes with factory-installed PCI mezzanine card (PMC) modules that enable designers to add an Ethernet switch, synchronous and asynchronous serial interfaces, and isolated double-throw relays.

The Navy is buying the rugged computers sole-source from Ballard because the purchase is unsuitable for full and open competition.

The Ballard AB3100H rugged computer was tested specifically as part of the MVCS and is the only item that has been certified through interoperability certification, Navy officials say. Today, no other source meets the certification requirements for interoperability with the MVCS.

To buy other slightly modified COTS items would require extensive engineering testing and certification, which would result in late deliveries, Navy officials say.

FOR MORE INFORMATION visit Ballard Technology at

To access this Article, go to: