General Dynamics upgrades Marine Corps AV-8B jump jet avionics computers

June 29, 2015
FAIRFAX, Va., 29 June 2015. Avionics software experts at General Dynamics Corp. have delivered the third software release involved in a program to upgrade the mission systems computer (MSC) systems aboard the U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II jump jet.
FAIRFAX, Va., 29 June 2015. Avionics software experts at General Dynamics Corp. have delivered the third software release involved in a program to upgrade the mission systems computer (MSC) systems aboard the U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier II jump jet.

Software experts at the General Dynamics Mission Systems segment in Fairfax, Va., are turning the software over to the Marine Corps, which will load the upgraded software into Harrier II avionics computers. General Dynamics wrote the software according to the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) standards of the Open Group in Burlington, Mass., company officials say.

The FACE-based software for the Harrier II is part of an overall General Dynamics upgrade to AV-8B flight mission computers. General Dynamics has been working on the flight computer upgrade under terms of a sole-source contract awarded by U.S. Naval Air Systems Command at Putuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., in 2013.

The software upgrades will enable the AV-8B's avionics to implement the required area navigation (RNP) and required navigation performance (RNAV) applications. General Dynamics also is delivering a second Open System Processor 3 (OSP3) into the AV-8B mission computer.

"The goal of this capability will be for technical professionals working on the AV-8B Harrier to swap applications in a way that's similar to changing and upgrading applications on a smartphone," says Carlo Zaffanella, vice president of maritime and strategic systems for General Dynamics Mission Systems.

Related: Navy considers upgrading AV-8B jump jet with small-form-factor Link 16 MIDS terminals

General Dynamics builds the mission system computer for the Harrier fleet, as well as the advanced mission computer on the Navy's F/A-18E, F/A-18F and EA-18G combat jets, company officials say.

Built on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) open architecture, the company designs advanced mission computers for general-purpose processing, display and graphics processing input/output, video, and other mission systems functions.

The AV-8B Harrier II is a second-generation vertical- and short-takeoff and landing (V/STOL) ground-attack aircraft used primarily for light attack or multi-role missions. It can operate from aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, and simple forward-operating bases.

In addition to the Marine Corps, the AV-8B files with the Italian and Spanish navies. The Marines operate the AV-8B with seven attack squadrons, which use the jump jet for close air support, air interdiction, surveillance, and helicopter escort.

Related: Marines experience their worst air disaster in nearly half a century

Eventually the Marines will replace their AV-8B aircraft with vertical- and short-takeoff and landing versions of the Lockheed Martin F-35 joint strike fighter.

The AV-8B's advanced mission computer is a VME-based processing system based on the Freescale Power-PC open-systems processor architecture. The mission computer can control mission computers and displays, digital maps, network processors, and servers.

The FACE technical standard, administered by the FACE industry consortium, providing guidelines for creating a common operating environment to support applications across U.S. military avionics systems. The standard helps enable developers to create and deploy applications across many military aviation systems through a common operating environment.

Developed in collaboration with 39 consortium member organizations, including Lockheed Martin, Naval Air Systems Command, Rockwell Collins, and U.S. Army PEO Aviation, the FACE Technical Standard promotes industry-government collaboration in a trusted environment, using proven processes and governance by The Open Group.

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The standard introduces interoperability into an environment that traditionally has relied on the use of tightly coupled individual systems each with unique interfaces. General Dynamics is part of the FACE Consortium.

General Dynamics is the developer and manufacturer of the AV-8B's advanced mission computer and mission systems computer, and is the only company with the knowledge necessary to fill the contract in a timely manner, Navy officials say.

General Dynamics combined the resources of its former Advanced Information Systems and C4 Systems segments into General Dynamics Mission Systems earlier this year.

For more information contact General Dynamics Mission Systems online at, Naval Air Systems Command at, or the FACE Consortium at

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