General Dynamics to upgrade Type 3 avionics computer systems for Super Hornet and Growler combat jets

Oct. 13, 2020
The AMC is a rugged embedded computer that performs general-purpose, I/O, video, voice, and graphics processing for Navy carrier-based combat jets.

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – Military avionics experts at General Dynamics Corp. will upgrade U.S. Navy upgrade aircraft computers for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler combat aircraft with an extra microprocessor under terms of a $13.1 million contract announced last month.

Officials of the Naval Air Warfare Center's Aircraft Division at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking the General Dynamics Mission Systems segment in Bloomington, Minn., to upgrade Navy-owned Type 3 Advanced Mission Computers (AMC) with a fourth general purpose processor (GPP) to create a Type 3 extra processor.

The contract also asks General Dynamics to upgrade of all the Warfare Management Computer A11 cards with mission system computer equivalent GPPs in support of Advanced Mission Computer and Display.

The General Dynamics Type 3 AMC is for the Super Hornet and Growler aircraft, as well as The Mission Systems Computer (MSC) for the AV-8B Harrier jump jet.

Related: Boeing asked to integrate Honeywell ADCP II avionics computer aboard Air National Guard F-15C jet fighters

The AMC is a rugged embedded computer that performs general-purpose, I/O, video, voice, and graphics processing. Communication is over several buses, including 1553, Fibre Optic Fibre Channel, and Local PCI.

Single-board computers and other modules in the AMC fit in an industry standard 6U VME backplane, and the I/O configuration may be tailored with PMC mezzanine card (PMC) modules. An Ethernet interface supports software development and system maintenance.

The AMC's core system software (CSS) is a real-time operating system with embedded system software, application program interface, and diagnostic software set for the AMC. The computer's I/O includes MIL-STD-1553 drivers, Fibre Channel drivers, VMEbus drivers, and discrete and serial I/O drivers.

Related: Navy to install FACE-based avionics computer upgrade in Marine Corps AV-8B attack jet fleet

The AV-8B's 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 latest version of the F/A-18 mission computer is the AMC Type 4, which first was flight tested in 2012. Type 4 AMC increases computing power and accelerates image and mission processing functions, Boeing officials say.

Those advances will support new systems and future systems aboard the aircraft, including a distributed targeting system, infrared search and track, and a new high-definition touch-screen display.

Related: Northrop Grumman will upgrade the mission computers aboard U.S. Marine Corps AH-1Z and UH-1Y helicopters

The AMC is the nerve center of the Navy Super Hornet. The commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)-based, open-systems architecture product is configurable to many operating environments.

The flight and mission computer is designed to handle mission processing; sensor processing; display processing; stores management; and information management.

On this contract General Dynamics will do the work in Bloomington, Minn., and should be finished by September 2023. For more information contact General Dynamics Mission Systems online at, or the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division 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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