Raytheon readies COTS upgrade of U.S. submarine combat systems

The networked combat systems aboard the U.S. Navy's fleet of nuclear-powered submarines is about to receive an infusion of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components as part of a planned upgrade of the Raytheon Combat Control System Mark 2 — better known as the CCS Mk 2.

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By John Keller

NEWPORT, R.I. — The networked combat systems aboard the U.S. Navy's fleet of nuclear-powered submarines is about to receive an infusion of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) components as part of a planned upgrade of the Raytheon Combat Control System Mark 2 — better known as the CCS Mk 2.

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The attack submarine USS Key West, pictured above, is among the vessels that will receive an upgraded CSS Mk 2 combat control system.
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Systems designers at the Raytheon Naval & Maritime Integrated Systems (N&MIS) unit in Portsmouth, R.I., are set to overhaul the CCS Mk 2 by replacing the system's military-specific AN/UYK-43 computer and its Fiber Distributed Data Interface (FDDI).

Taking the AN/UYK-43 computer's place in the CCS Mk 2 upgrade will be a multifunction server based on the Hewlett-Packard J5600 and J6000 Unix workstations — the same design as many of the Navy's open-systems AN/UYQ-70 standard shipboard computers, explains Bill Kneller, the CCS Mk 2 program manager at the Raytheon Naval & Maritime unit.

In addition, Raytheon engineers will remove the CCS Mk 2's FDDI network and replace it with an Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) fiber-optic network, Kneller says. Raytheon is also switching out the system's old CMS-2 computer code and replacing it with Hewlett-Packard Unix, as well as with software interfaces that comply with the Common Object Request Broker Architecture (CORBA).

Raytheon is doing the work under terms of a $20.5 million order announced in March. Funding the contract were officials of the Program Executive Officer Submarines in Arlington, Va. The Defense Microelectronics Activity (DMEA) in Sacramento, Calif., awarded the delivery order.

"We will have COTS computing elements and peripherals, commercial networks and routers, and commercial interfaces to tie into pieces of equipment," Kneller says.

The CCS Mk 2, which is aboard the Navy's Los Angeles-class fast attack submarines and Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, integrates data from sensors, and controls targeting and launch of submarine torpedoes and missiles. This upgrade, in fact, will enable U.S. submarines for the first time to fire the so-called "Tactical Tomahawk" Block 4 cruise missile, Kneller says.

Integrated data comes from sonar, target motion analysis, tactical displays, weapon order control, and submarine navigation and communications.

"The CCS Mk 2 can be thought of as the glue that takes all the sensors and allows the data to be fused into a common situational awareness type of plot," Kneller explains. "We take all that sensor data and determine what the contacts are doing, and determine where the friendlies and hostiles are. The goal is once you do the track and classify the target, you can engage it whether it be with a torpedo or Tomahawk missile."

The network choice, he says, stems directly from commercial development. "ATM is taking off and FDDI isn't," Kneller says. "The telecommunications industry is making ATM a household name. The difference is throughput; ATM more than doubles it."

Another objective of the upgrade is to put an electronic architecture in place than can easily accommodate frequent future hardware and software upgrades, Kneller explains. Raytheon engineers are doing this by partitioning the system between tactical control and weapons control, Kneller says.

Navy policy mandates a strict review and qualification whenever engineers make changes to weapons-control systems, he says. This process often is expensive and time consuming. "By partitioning the system between tactical and weapons control, we can make changes and future upgrades in tactical areas without touching the weapons control area with its associated recertifications," Kneller explains.

The upgraded CSS Mk 2 architecture will go aboard not only the Los Angeles- and Ohio-class submarines, but also aboard the Seawolf- and future Virginia-class submarines, Kneller says. In fact, some of the work on the system upgrade comes from developments for the Virginia-class attack boats, he says.

In addition, Raytheon engineers also are making use of developments they made for the Australian Collins-class submarines, says Jane Wentland, business development for submarine programs at Raytheon.

Raytheon partners on the CCS Mk 2 upgrade project with a "Team Submarine" coalition of the Navy's Submarine Combat Systems Program Office, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I., and several small business partners to meet the requirements of this program, Raytheon officials say.

This is the first phase of a multi-year Navy initiative to build common combat control system components among several different Navy submarines, the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarines, and later the Seawolf-, Ohio-, and Virginia-class submarines.

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