Northrop Grumman to provide flight computers for Marine Corps utility and attack helicopters

July 29, 2015
WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., 29 July 2015. Avionics computer experts at the Northrop Grumman Corp. are delivering the company's next-generation mission flight computers for lot 12 of the Marine Corps' H-1 helicopter upgrade program.
WOODLAND HILLS, Calif., 29 July 2015.Avionics computer experts at the Northrop Grumman Corp. are delivering the company's next-generation mission flight computers for lot 12 of the Marine Corps' H-1 helicopter upgrade program.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking the Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems segment in Woodland Hills, Calif., to provide the company's FlightPro Gen III mission computers for the Marine Corps UH-1Y utility helicopter and AH-1Z attack helicopter -- the aircraft involved in the H-1 helicopter upgrade program.

The FlightPro Gen III mission computers incorporates a ruggedized 6U VME PowerPC-based single board computer. FlightPro interfaces include Fast Ethernet, four serial ports, parallel I/O, and built-in-test. FlightPro has a standard, partitioned real-time operating system with ARINC 653 and POSIX support. The lot 12 contract runs from October 2016 through October 2017.

The lightweight FlightPro Gen III mission computer integrates advanced mission, weapons, and video processing capabilities into a conduction-cooled, high-performance airborne computer capable of driving four independent, multi-function displays.

The standard configuration includes a quad channel 1553 mezzanine card, high-speed serial card, digital I/O module with eight channels of opto-coupled discrete inputs, eight channels of opto-coupled discrete outputs, and 16 channels of general-purpose bi-directional discretes that can be programmed individually as outputs or inputs.

Related: Northrop Grumman selected to provide mission computers for U.S. Navy H-1 helicopter upgrades

FlightPro is capable of Required Navigation Performance/Area Navigation (RNP/RNAV) in all flight regimes, including departure, en route, terminal and non-precision approach using GPS as the sole navigation source.

The flight computer software is RTCA DO-178C compliant, has ARINC-653 partitioning for safety and security, and complies with the Modular Open Systems Architecture (MOSA) standard.

Flight computer hardware is designed to MIL-STD-461D for electro-magnetic compatibility, and is tested to MIL-STD-462 and MIL-STD 810E. FlightPro is conduction cooled, and represents “Quiet Cockpit Technology,” Northrop Grumman officials say.

Northrop Grumman will provide identical mission computers for the UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters that make up Marine Corps light attack helicopter squadrons. Deployed forces will benefit from greater cost efficiency and a reduced logistical footprint, company officials say.

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Dual mission computers are the heart of Northrop Grumman's integrated avionics system that powers the helicopters' digital cockpits. The mission computers provide centralized avionics control and show aircraft performance and flight instruments, onboard sensor and survivability displays, and improved situational awareness and health monitoring information, company officials say.

Aligned with the Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) standard, the IAS and mission computers have open, modular architecture for system upgrades; rapid insertion of new and emerging technologies; and integration of other avionics, communications, onboard sensors, and survivability equipment.

Northrop Grumman also provides the operational flight program software that controls the helicopter avionics. The architecture design enables the same hardware to be applied to other helicopters like the UH-60, CH-47, AH-1Z/UH-1Y, company officials say.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems online at, or Naval Air Systems Command at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

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