Army pushes forward with common UAV avionics processor development

U.S. Army researchers are looking for ideas from industry on developing a prototype high-performance, embedded, mission avionics processor for common use aboard several different tactical unmanned air vehicles (TUAVs).

By John Keller

FORT EUSTIS, Va. — U.S. Army researchers are looking for ideas from industry on developing a prototype high-performance, embedded, mission avionics processor for common use aboard several different tactical unmanned air vehicles (TUAVs).

This program concerns phase 3 of the Manned/Unmanned Common Architecture Program, otherwise known as MCAP, which is under supervision of the U.S. Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) at Fort Eustis, Va.

Specifically, Army officials are trying to find out which companies have the best expertise in designing such a UAV common processor, and for industry opinions on requirements for the MCAP's advanced technology development phase.

Army experts say they will use this information to fine-tune MCAP program details and to develop a statement of work that would outline competition to develop the next phase of the MCAP. Plans are to choose a UAV mission architecture systems engineer to coordinate the work of UAV manufacturers on MCAP requirements.

From industry, AATD officials would like to know about current and future functional requirements, the overall state-of-the art of architecture designs and implementations, the shortcomings of current systems to meet evolving needs, affordability considerations, prevailing and evolving standards, hardware and software commonality opportunities, and Objective Force Future Combat Systems (OFFCS) interoperability between manned helicopters and UAVs.

Army researchers also would like to know about modularity, open systems interface standards, market-driven commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) electronics, software reuse, obsolescence mitigation, upgradeability, technology refresh, scalability, and potential solutions to airworthiness qualification issues.

Space, weight, power considerations, and performance will drive design and computing infrastructure component selection including interfaces, transmission media, network devices, enclosures, mission processors, and software architecture and applications.

AATD officials say they will competitively select a MCAP phase 3 UAV mission architecture systems engineer to define communications and interoperability requirements, design mission processor prototypes, and choose standards.

Army researchers say they will release a request for proposal for the 18-month MCAP phase 3 systems engineering effort by July 31, and award a $4 million contract for the job in November.

For more information, contact Allen Walker, by phone at 757-878-2516 or by e-mail at awalker@aatd.eustis.army.mil, or Dale Johnson by phone at 757-878-0123 or by e-mail at djohnson@aatd.eustis.army.mil. Those interested may review and comment on the statement of work on the World Wide Web at http://www.aatd.eustis.army.mil/Business/Divisions/Contracting/Docs/
P3_SOW_20030428.doc.

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