ARCI continues pushing the bounds of COTS

By John Keller

MANASSAS, Va. - Combat systems designers are seeking to use purely commercial-grade components in an upgrade of U.S. Los Angeles-class (SSN-688) attack submarines by concentrating on shock-isolation techniques and ruggedized enclosures.

"We are taking ruggedization to the structural level so we can use full-commercial cards," says Skip Price, senior hardware engineer in the Navy Systems Group of Lockheed Martin Federal Systems in Manassas, Va. "We are doing special things at the cabinet level for shock, vibration, heat dissipation, and cooling."

Lockheed Martin Federal is prime contractor for the U.S. Navy`s Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion (ARCI) initiative to replace as much military-grade electronic hardware as possible with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology in the AN/BSY-1 and AN/BQQ-5 combat systems aboard 688-class boats.

ARCI technology is also expected to influence designs of the Navy`s future New Attack Submarine, as well as upgrades to the AN/BQQ-6 sonar signal processing systems aboard U.S. Navy Ohio-class (SSBN-726) ballistic missile submarines.

Cost is the chief motivation behind using commercial-grade components, Price explains. "We don`t want to get into rugged components because you lose all your cost advantage that way," he says. "It`s cheap to build a rugged enclosure to allow you to use these commercial products. That`s the tack we have taken on this program."

The ARCI 6U VME-based architecture derives its processing power from the Multi-Purpose Processor (MPP) from Digital Systems Resources of Fairfax, Va. MPP is based on the 21060 SHARC digital signal processor from Analog Devices of Norwood, Mass., and the Raceway multiprocessor interconnect from Mercury Computer Systems Inc. of Chelmsford, Mass.

ARCI, which began in early 1996, calls for three delivery phases through the end of 1991, Price explains. The first delivery - a towed array sonar with COTS components - will be in November 1997. The second - adding COTS components to the hull-mounted sonar - will be in December 1996, while the third phase - using COTS signal processing on the submarine bow-mounted spherical sonar array - will be in December 1999.

During the first two phases of delivery, naval officials will operate the new COTS sonar-processing hardware in parallel with the older military-grade equipment, Price says. The last phase will involve removing all the military-grade equipment and using only the new COTS gear.

In one example of the ARCI design approach, Price says his engineers are using a 2604 PowerPC VME single-board computer from the Motorola Inc. Computer Group in Tempe, Ariz., as the slot-one controller for the entire ARCI VME chassis.

Although the 2604 has one slot for a PCI Mezzanine Card (PMC), the ARCI design calls for more I/O. To address the problem, designers are using the RM901 PMC expansion board from RAMix Inc. of Chatsworth, Calif. "We are attaching the RAMix board physically to this Motorola PowerPC card, and it gives us two additional PMC slots for more functionality," Price says.

Designers will use one PMC slot for a Fiber Distributed Data Interface high-speed data bus interconnect, and the other for additional flash memory for operating system and application software, Price says. "RAMix is the only card vendor that is making an attachment card to this Motorola card," he says. The ARCI operating system is VX Works from Wind River Systems in Alameda, Calif.

The flash PMC, also from RAMix, has a COTS PCMCIA flash memory card attached. This setup streamlines program loading. "Typically what you would do in a VME environment is go out across Ethernet to a workstation or disk drive somewhere and pull in your operating system and application files," Price says. "It is a very slow and tedious way to do that. We wanted a local source to contain this data."

The RAMix card Lockheed Martin engineers are using has a 40-megabyte PCMCIA flash card, which they can easily upgrade to 170 megabytes or more when the system needs it, Price says.

Click here to enlarge image

Click here to enlarge image

The RM901 PMC expansion board from RAMix Inc. (right) adds I/O capability for the Acoustic Rapid COTS Insertion program for Los Angeles-class attack submarines such as the USS Philadelphia, pictured above.

Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

Flexible Printed Circuit Board

Flexible Printed Circuit Boards are one of the most popular types of circuit boards used in a var...

Printed Circuit Board Assembly

Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCB ASSY) is as critical a process as circuit board manufacturing.

VN0601 - Interface for ARINC 429 Bus Systems

The VN0601 is a compact and powerful interface for ARINC 429 bus systems. The interface convenien...


CANoe.A429 is ideal for the test and analysis of ARINC 429 buses and of individual devices on up ...

XPand6020 | Small Form Factor (SFF) System Featuring XPedite5205 Running Cisco IOS® and XPedite7450

The XPand6020 is a Small Form Factor (SFF) system that features an XPedite5205, which runs Cisco ...

XPm2222 | MIL-STD-704A/E/F and MIL-STD-1275D 28 VDC VITA 62.0 3U VPX Power Supply with MIL-STD-461F EMI Filtering

The XPm2222 is a VITA 62.0 form factor 3U VPX power supply. The XPm2222 takes in a MIL-STD-704A/E...

XChange3100 | 6U VPX 10 Gigabit Ethernet Switch with Optional Layer 2 Switching and Layer 3 Routing Management Support

The XChange3100 is a conduction- or air-cooled, 6U OpenVPX™ 10 Gigabit Ethernet switch module. Th...

XPand4208 | Flight Qualified Intel® Core™ i7-Based Multiprocessor 3U OpenVPX™ COTS System

The XPand4208 is a high-performance, expandable, computing and networking platform for environmen...

XCalibur4444 | Intel® Core™ i7 Processor-Based Conduction-Cooled 6U VPX Module

The XCalibur4444 is a high-performance, multiprocessing, 6U VPX, single board computer that is id...

XPedite7470 | Intel® Core™ i7 Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI SBC

The XPedite7470 is a high-performance, low-power, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the...

Related Companies


Provides customized Printed Circuit Board fabrication in California. The entire process can be customized according t...

TASC Technical & Assembly Services Corporation Electronic Equipment Manufacturing

Electronic Manufacturing sub-contractor. Circuit Board assembly, Cable Assembly, Wire Harness Assembly, Box Build Ass...

Vector Informatik GmbH

Provides solutions to benefit developers and test engineers for aerospace electronic networking. Focuses on tools for...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...


Offers complete solutions for embedded software developers with a focus on mission- and safety-critical applications....

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

STMicroelectronics Inc

ST serves customers across the spectrum of sense, power, automotive products, and embedded processing solutions. From...


Signal integrity leaders and preferred vertically integrated manufacturer of high-performance electrical and electron...

Manufactures industrial rugged computers and peripherals, including custom rack servers, rugged LCD monitors, mini PC...

AcQ Inducom

Develops and produces non-certified and certified high-tech modular hardware- and software solutions for on-board and...
Wire News provided by   

Press Releases

Model INCX-4001

The INCX-4001 consists of a high quality audio transceiver specifically designed to implement a complete fiber optic intercom.

Model PS-1210

The PS-1210 is a 1A, 12VDC stand-alone or rack mountable non-switcher (no RF noise) power supply.

Model OS-3121

Optical switches are utilized to disconnect, bypass and reroute fiber optic communications. All of these optical switches are purely optical path, there is no optical to e...


New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

All Access Sponsors

Mil & Aero Magazine

July 2015
Volume 26, Issue 7

Download Our Apps




Follow Us On...


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles