General Dynamics continues project to upgrade submarine electronics with COTS computers

WASHINGTON, 27 June 2013. U.S. Navy officials are asking General Dynamics Information Systems in Fairfax, Va., to continue a project that seeks to upgrade the combat systems aboard U.S. missile and fast-attack submarines with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computers.

Posted by John Keller
Posted by John Keller

WASHINGTON, 27 June 2013. U.S. Navy officials are asking General Dynamics Information Systems in Fairfax, Va., to continue a project that seeks to upgrade the combat systems aboard U.S. missile and fast-attack submarines with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computers.

Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington announced a $29.7 million contract modification to General Dynamics Wednesday for engineering and technical services in support of the AN/BYG-1 tactical control system aboard submarines.

The AN/BYG-1 is an open-architecture submarine combat control system for analyzing and tracking submarine and surface ship contacts, providing situational awareness, as well as aiming and firing torpedoes and missiles.

The program replaces central processors with COTS computers, and seeks to refresh submarine combat system processors with new COTS technologies every one to two years. The AN/BYG system is a counterpart to the Navy's Advanced Rapid COTS Insertion (A-RCI) program that uses COTS computers in submarine sonar signal processing systems.

Submarine crews equipped with the AN/BYG-1 combat control system are able to analyze submarine sensor contact information to track submarine and surface vessels in open-ocean and coastal waters; aim and fire heavyweight torpedoes against submarine and surface ship targets; receive strike warfare orders, plan strike missions and employ Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles; and receive and synthesize sensor data and external tactical intelligence to produce an integrated tactical picture for situational awareness.

The AN/BYG-1 program includes a combat control system for the Virginia class attack submarine, as well as a replacement combat control system backfit for Los Angeles- and Seawolf-class attack submarines and for the Ohio-class ballistic-missile and cruise-missile submarines. General Dynamics also provides the AN/BYG-1 system for Royal Australian Navy Collins-class attack submarines.

The program uses biannual software upgrades called advanced processor builds (APBs) and hardware upgrades called technology insertions (TIs). The Navy began installing the AN/BYG-1 APB-09 system on Virginia-class fast-attack submarines in 2010.

The contract modification announced Wednesday calls for General Dynamics to continue upgrading the AN/BYG-1 Tactical Control System from a Technology Insertion (TI-10) baseline to a TI-12, integrate APB-13, begin developing the TI-14 baselines in several different variants suitable to the different classes of submarines.

The AN/BYG-1 modernization program separates development of the tactical control system (TCS) and the weapons control system (WCS) to enable independent yet parallel development and certification, General Dynamics officials say. Each of these systems uses a variety of APB software algorithms developed by industry, government, and academia.

The TCS portion of BYG-1 integrates sensor inputs to provide a secure common operational picture and improved situational awareness that blends information sonar, electronic support measures, radar, navigation, periscopes, and communications systems. The TCS system architecture allows for rapid COTS insertion to accommodate and integrate additional functionality and sensors.

Previous system enhancements have included improved commanding officer situational awareness by sharing display information across subsystems, and changing some designs to manage and distribute important navigation data.

Some of the latest enhancements under the AN/BYG-1 program have included integration of unmanned air vehicle (UAV) command and control (C2), and upgrading high-definition displays.

One of the benefits of rapid COTS technology upgrades to submarine combat systems is the ability for the Navy to learn from real-world experience to make quick improvements. Recent Navy recommendations, for example, were to acquire automation technology to help the operator in areas of high contact density.

Navy officials also have recommended improving operator training, because many of the new features in the APB-07 upgrades that were designed to improve mission performance were not used consistently during testing.

On the current contract modification, General Dynamics will do the work in Fairfax, Va., and should be finished by July 2014. For more information contact General Dynamics Information Systems online at www.gd-ais.com, or Naval Sea Systems Command at www.navsea.navy.mil.

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