Radstone to supply COTS CPU boards for new torpedo

FULLERTON, Calif. - Radstone Technology of Montvale, N.J., has the inside track in a race to become the dominant single-board computer provider for the U.S. Navy`s inventory of torpedoes.

By John Keller

FULLERTON, Calif. - Radstone Technology of Montvale, N.J., has the inside track in a race to become the dominant single-board computer provider for the U.S. Navy`s inventory of torpedoes.

Engineers at the Hughes Naval and Maritime Systems Division in Fullerton, Calif., are choosing Radstone to provide PowerPC based 6U VME boards for the guidance section of the Navy`s new Lightweight Hybrid Torpedo.

Radstone is providing its "Rugged PowerPC PPC-2" conduction-cooled boards, which are based on the 100-MHz Motorola/ IBM/Apple PowerPC 603 microprocessor, says Charlie Paterson, managing director of Radstone Technology PLC in Towcester, England, the parent company of Radstone Technology in the U.S.

"We have received an order for a few hundred thousand dollars for development associated with the much larger program," Paterson says. "There are no guarantees for production." Hughes officials refused to comment for this story.

Hughes is subcontractor to the Alliant TechSystems Marine Systems Group in Mukilteo, Wash., the torpedo`s prime contractor. One goal of the new torpedo program is to use as much commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) equipment as possible, Alliant TechSystems officials say.

Mizar Inc. of Carrollton, Texas, will provide Hughes with COTS 6U VME single-board digital signal processors based on the Texas Instruments TMS320C40. Each Mizar DSP board contains eight DSP chips.

This is one of the first U.S. military projects seeking to use COTS on a large scale in an environment as harsh as torpedoes. Not only are torpedoes subject to humidity and long storage, but they also must withstand severe shock as they hit the water after launching, and must tolerate submerging in salt water on the way to the target without malfunction.

The Lightweight Hybrid Torpedo, which is being designed primarily to counter diesel/electric submarines in shallow coastal waters of the Third World, is to replace or augment the Alliant TechSystems Mark 46 and the Alliant TechSystems/Northrop Grumman Mark 50 lightweight torpedoes.

The new torpedo is to be launched from fixed-wing aircraft, helicopters, and surface ships. It will blend the Mark 50 transmitter and nose array, which contains active and passive sonar target seeking, and the Mark 46 propulsion system and warhead.

The VME processors from Mizar and Radstone will run the algorithms developed for the Mark 50 and for the Hughes Mark 48 advanced capability submarine-launched anti-ship and anti-submarine torpedoes.

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