In Brief

April 1, 2009
Rockwell Collins delivered the first installation of the Block I modification to the U..S. Navy’s E-6B Mercury aircraft.

Rockwell Collins and L-3 deliver Block I modernization for Navy E-6B

Rockwell Collins delivered the first installation of the Block I modification to the U.S. Navy’s E-6B Mercury aircraft. The Block I Modification has an open system architecture for mission avionics, a voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) intercommunications system (ICS), and an on-aircraft, multi-level secure network for message processing, radio control/monitor, and other mission applications. The program also improves the reliability and availability of the Ultra High Frequency Command, Control, and Communication (UHF C3) system and enhances the electrical power and cooling systems. The Navy E-6B aircraft is the “Take Charge and Move Out” (TACAMO) and the U.S. Strategic Command Airborne Command Post aircraft, providing survivable communications between the president of the United States, secretary of defense, and the U.S. strategic forces, Rockwell officials say. The open solution provided by the Block I modification addresses immediate requirements and enables system expansion in the future. The Block I Modification solution provides an infrastructure to support moving data on, off, and throughout the aircraft even as user bandwidth demands increase in this emerging age of the digital battlespace. The E-6B Block I program also provides a template for transforming additional special mission aircraft to serve key roles in network-centric operations.

QinetiQ North America to support Air Force space operations

The Air Force Space and Missile System Center awarded QinetiQ North America’s Mission Solutions Group in Fairfax, Va., a blanket purchase agreement for space operations technical support worth as much as $250 million. QinetiQ North America will provide the Air Force with systems engineering, test and evaluation, software engineering, spectrum management, modeling and simulation, system safety, and acquisition security. The company will also offer support in the areas of integration logistic support and concept development. It will be eligible to deliver specific mission support in multi-spectral surveillance satellites, infrared surveillance satellites, the Next Generation Space Navigation System, launch range systems, satellite control networks, and unprotected satellite communications. QinetiQ North America will also support satellite ground stations, as well as heavy, medium, and small launch vehicles, and will work in the weather satellite and satellite communications terminal mission areas.

Barco extends avionics offering with generation head-up display from Saab

Saab in Stockholm, Sweden, has selected avionics display technology from Barco for Saab’s next-generation RIGS heads-up display (HUD). RIGS is a heads-up display providing helicopters and small aircraft with an ‘out-of-the-window’ display solution that is more cost-efficient than existing HUD solutions. The RIGS system makes use of Saab’s digital video display technology to project the picture into the aircrew’s field of view. The required software is hosted on Barco’s PU-2000 processing unit with open MOSArt architecture. This open system architecture allows end users to tailor applications to their specific needs and to upgrade the system capabilities solely through software upgrades, thus ensuring a low lifecycle cost. The RIGS HUD can be deployed for applications, such as the rendition of flight, navigation, and sighting data with aiming point and target reticule. In addition, RIGS can offer all-weather capabilities by presenting instrument landing system information and images from enhanced vision sensors. Connected to RIGS, these enhanced vision sensors enable pilots to see through darkness, smog, smoke, and various levels of snow, rain, and fog. The open architecture of the RIGS system allows for easy installation on both new and retrofitted helicopters and smaller aircraft.

Boeing submits proposals to NASA for Ares V rocket design support

Boeing’s Space Exploration division submitted proposals to NASA for the Ares V Phase 1 Design Support Contracts. Boeing submitted proposals for design support of the Ares V cargo launch vehicle’s payload shroud, which will protect the Altair lunar lander during launch; the Earth-departure stage; the core stage, a liquid-fueled central booster element; and avionics and software. The work includes assessing requirements, risks, and opportunities; performing trade studies and analysis; and producing final reports. The company proposes to use the experience of its Huntsville-based team, supplemented by expertise from across Boeing, to develop products that will enable NASA to verify the Ares V design concept and demonstrate that the launch vehicle can meet its mission objectives. The two-stage, vertically stacked Ares V will serve as NASA’s primary rocket for safe, reliable delivery of large-scale hardware to space–from the lunar landing craft and materials for establishing a moon base to food, water, and other staples needed to extend a human presence beyond Earth’s orbit. The Ares V Phase 1 contracts will be managed out of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

Lockheed Martin unveils exoskeleton technology

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control engineers introduced an advanced robotic exoskeleton designed to augment soldiers’ strength and endurance and prevent their premature fatigue. The Human Universal Load Carrier (HULC) exoskeleton, introduced at the Association of the U.S. Army Winter Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will meet future mobility and sustainment needs of warfighters by providing strength and survivability. Lockheed Martin worked under an exclusive licensing agreement with Berkeley Bionics, a developer of exoskeleton technologies. “With our enhancements to the HULC system, soldiers will be able to carry loads up to 200 pounds with minimal effort,” says Rich Russell, director of Sensors, Data Links, and Advanced Programs at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control in Orlando, Fla. “Lockheed Martin is developing an entire line of ground soldier technologies that will improve warfighters’ ability to complete their missions.” Dismounted soldiers often carry heavy combat loads that increase stress on the body, leading to injuries and exhaustion. HULC transfers the weight from heavy loads to the ground through the battery-powered, titanium legs of the lower-body exoskeleton. An advanced onboard micro-computer ensures the exoskeleton moves in concert with the individual. HULC’s untethered, hydraulic-powered anthropomorphic exoskeleton design allows for deep squats, crawls, and upper-body lifting with minor exertion.

Future Combat Systems program completes Integrated Mission Test-1

Boeing and Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC)–together the lead systems integrator for the U.S. Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program–completed Integrated Mission Test-1 (IMT-1), verifying that the integration of FCS systems and Battle Command software is proceeding as planned. The test, conducted early this year at the FCS Common Control Node at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., caps more than two years of software development, integration, and testing involving nearly every FCS Integrated Product Team and One Team Partner, as well as soldiers from the Army Evaluation Task Force (AETF) at Fort Bliss, Texas. The AETF is evaluating and testing FCS capabilities for incremental fielding and the development of full FCS Brigade Combat Teams. The test involved nearly 400 computers, 30 mock-ups of FCS manned ground vehicles, 45 soldiers, and more than 120 industries, Army, and other government personnel. During the test, soldiers crewed mock-ups of manned ground vehicles during simulated operational missions that used advanced simulations of FCS systems and network capabilities. The purpose was to validate early prototypes of FCS Battle Command and System software by soliciting soldier feedback and analyzing how they executed the missions. Feedback was also obtained on FCS Warfighter Machine Interface displays, which provided soldiers with a common operating picture of the operational environment as they conducted simulated operational tasks.

General Dynamics Canada wins support contract for Canadian Army Communications System

General Dynamics Canada in Ottawa, Ontario, won the Long Term Support Contract (LTSC) for the Canadian Army’s Land Command Support System (LCSS). Initially worth $341 million, the competitively tendered five-year contract includes options to extend the support annually for as many five additional years, bringing the total potential contract value to $682 million. Through the LTSC, General Dynamics Canada and its partners will support the operation and maintenance of the deployed system at home and abroad and provide engineering services in support of periodic enhanced operational capability upgrades through the integration of software and hardware elements. Work related to LCSS LTSC will be conducted at General Dynamics Canada’s facility in Calgary.

Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet program completes Infrared Search and Track System tests

The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Infrared Search and Track (IRST) program has completed a series of risk-reduction flight tests that demonstrated the compatibility and effectiveness of the IRST system on the Super Hornet strike fighter. IRST is a passive, long-range sensor system that searches for and detects IR emissions within its field of view. It can track several targets simultaneously and provide an air-to-air targeting capability, even when facing advanced threats equipped with radar-jamming technology. Boeing, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, and General Electric developed a prototype IRST sensor that was installed in the front section of a modified 480-gallon fuel tank. The U.S. Navy conducted six flight tests at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., and four at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, Calif. Chris Wedewer, F/A-18E/F IRST program manager for Boeing, says the flight tests allow for low-risk entry into the development phase of the program. “Boeing and Lockheed Martin demonstrated transfer alignment, long-range target detection, and the ability to operate in a fuel tank,” Wedewer says. “Boeing also demonstrated integration of the IRST into the F/A-18E/F’s multisource integration algorithms, allowing for the fusion of IRST tracking data with data from other sensors.” IRST is part of the Navy’s F/A-18E/F Block II Super Hornet Flight Plan, which is a series of planned capability enhancements.

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