Raytheon picked to design open-systems avionics for AC-130J Ghostrider and MC-130J Commando II aircraft

Dec. 17, 2020
NextGen SMP avionics will use open-systems standards such as VITA OpenVPX, and align to the future Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) standard.

MacDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) aviation experts needed open-systems aircraft mission processor avionics to replace outdated equipment aboard Special Operations AC- and MC-130J aircraft. They found their solution from Raytheon Technologies Corp.

SOCOM officials announced a $99 million contract last week to the Raytheon Intelligence & Space segment in McKinney, Texas, to provide Next-Generation Special Mission Processors (NextGen SMP) that enable technicians to install unique Special Forces equipment aboard the aircraft.

The NextGen SMP enables Special Forces tactical mission systems to integrate with AC- and MC-130J aircraft controls and provides future software capabilities.

The AC-130J Ghostrider is a modified C-130J aircraft with advanced two-pilot flight station, digital avionics, dual inertial navigation systems, color weather radar, and Global Positioning System (GPS) for extremely accurate navigation. The aircraft is for close air support, air interdiction, and armed reconnaissance.

Related: Army asks industry for open-systems avionics technologies for future attack and reconnaissance helicopters

The MC-130J Commando II aircraft has avionics similar to the AC-130J, and has a combat systems operator and auxiliary flight deck stations; 13 color multifunctional liquid crystal displays; head-up displays; integrated navigation systems; improved fuel, environmental, and ice-protection systems; enhanced cargo-handling system; infrared sensors; satellite communications for voice and data; increased DC electrical output; and provisions for the Large Aircraft Infrared Counter-Measure system (LAIRCM).

These new mission processor avionics systems provide capability improvements, and potentially will replace the AC- and MC-130J's current SMPs. This contract has the potential to replace the current two-each SMPs on as many as 94 AC- and MC-130J aircraft, plus spare parts.

SOCOM officials have compiled a long list of capabilities they want for the NextGen SMP. First, it must be a modular open systems architecture that complies with the Open Mission Systems standard.

The new systems will be based also on the VITA Open VPX standard, as well as align to the future Sensor Open Systems Architecture (SOSA) standard. It also must conform as much as possible to the legacy SMP size, weight, and power specifications, wiring, and connectors.

Related: Pentagon reinforces mandate for electronics design open-systems standards like SOSA, FACE, and VICTORY

The NextGen SMP also must support safety-critical information in a segregated real-time operating system; provide an any-video-anywhere capability across at least 16 independent displays; and use commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) processors as much as possible.

The devices also will have modular external data storage for at least one terabyte of data; red/black separation; and cyber security, anti-tamper, and system declassification backup information.

Raytheon should be finished with the contract by December 2027. For more information contact Raytheon Intelligence & Space online at www.rtx.com, or U.S. Special Operations Command at www.socom.mil.

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