Air Force chooses Terma to provide cockpit 3-D audio for pilot situational awareness on A-10 combat aircraft

Oct. 24, 2019
3-D audio describes natural sounds coming through a stereo headset in which the listener can detect the direction of sound for situational awareness.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – U.S. Air Force combat aircraft avionics experts needed 3-D audio systems for their fleet of A-10 Thunderbolt II close-air-support jets. They found their solution from Terma North America Inc. in Arlington, Va.

Officials of the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, announced a five-year $60 million sole-source contract to Terma on Wednesday for as many as 328 3-D audio systems for the A-10 aircraft, which affectionately is called the Warthog.

3-D audio describes natural sounds through a stereo headset in which the listener can detect the direction of a sound and use the direction when relevant; it particularly gives the listener the sensation of hearing voices coming from different directions.

Terma engineers produce 3-D audio by applying digital signal processing to sound coming through the A-10 combat aircraft cockpit headset. This produces spatially separated sound that makes audio sound natural, as if the pilot were not wearing a headset.

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The 3-D audio component of the Terma digital aircraft audio management system can help reduce the pilot's workload, improve situational awareness and survivability; reduce hearing loss and fatigue; and improve speech intelligibility.

Radio separation in the system enables the pilot to perceive different positions for each cockpit radio, while providing intuitive audio cueing. In case of a missile launch, radio separation also simulates the sound of a missile from the direction in which it launches, lets the pilot know intuitively where the threat is coming from.

Radio separation also enables the pilot to monitor several different radio frequencies without user fatigue by emphasizing a separate audio direction for each frequency, with an emphasis on the most important and immediate communications. In addition to the A-10, Terma also provides 3-D audio with radio separation capability for the Air Force F-16 jet fighter.

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The A-10 ground-support jet, or "mudfighter," has been flying since the 1970s. It is a single-seat, twin-engine, straight-wing combat jet designed to attack enemy armored vehicles and other high-priority ground targets.

The aircraft is designed around a 30-millimeter cannon with armor-piercing ammunition. It also has titanium armor to protect the pilot from ground fire.

On this contract Terma will have the work done by a subcontractor in the U.S. and Denmark, and should be finished by February 2024. For more information contact Terma North America online at, or the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, Hill Air Force Base, at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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