Generic Avionics To Steer NetCentric IAF

Jan 22, 2009

The Israeli Air Force is embarking on an ambitious avionics enhancement program that has the potential to upgrade the air force's entire combat fleet - fighters to helicopters - to facilitate advanced network centric services and capabilities throughout its combat assets.

The upgrade will streamline avionics levels of all IAF assets, from the expected Israeli version of the Joint Strike Fighter, through the recently fielded F-16I to early model F-16 C/Ds and attack helicopters.

Unlike earlier upgrade programs, which required replacement of avionic units, the new avionic modernization will introduce a new "generic avionic server" (GAS) acting as a "mediator" between the air force's network and the aircraft avionic system. IAF avionics experts consider this approach suitable to deal with most of the challenges derived from increasing obsolescence of electronic systems, as well as complex and long development and integration processes involving modern network centric applications - particularly when matched with equally complex avionic systems taxed by physical, energy, processing and memory challenges.

IAF officials consider GAS implementation could solve some of these challenges by simplifying system integration. New data distribution services (DDS) will be required to interface only with the mediator, the generic computer, rather than to each application on each aircraft type. In turn, the generic computer will have to be integrated once into each of the platforms, but not to each of the network services.

One of the applications the IAF could be considering is a force-wide situational-awareness application that will take advantage of netcentric communications, and data sharing to develop a tactical picture form known aircraft positions of friendly units, as well as targets. Utilizing the GAS approach for such an application, the IAF will be able to leverage an application developed for fighter aircraft and roll it out in combat helicopters with minimum adaptation. Other applications could address accelerated and dynamic kill chains - e.g., sensor-to-shooter cycles - and employment of in-flight network-based virtual training for air, land, sea and C4I forces.

The IAF sees GAS using hardware and generic system services referred to as "horizontal" services, maintaining "household" services such as communications and displays controls. "Vertical" applications will employ specific algorithms running mission-specific services, like live video. When fully deployed, this separation is supposed to simplify and accelerate the evolution, integration and rapid fielding of new services, since new applications will be developed to run on virtual systems designed to run on GAS instead of a mission computer of each of the different aircraft types.

As part of the multiyear planning, the IAF conducted a thorough mapping of all its avionic resources, to come up with a single piece of hardware that could match the space, power and cooling resources of all platforms. Next, the IAF launched a development program, to demonstrate the new capability. A single contractor will be selected to provide the systems to be implemented throughout IAF units.

A few weeks ago the IAF released the long-awaited request for proposal for the new computer and received proposals from four Israeli companies: IAI, Elbit Systems, Astronautics and Rada.

The new computer will replace or augment the Digital Video Recording systems being fielded throughout the fleet.

While the GAS is an admittedly ambitious undertaking, the Air Force is hopeful industry will address this new approach by developing new network-based applications on a risk sharing basis.

The IAF has already initiated "cooperation" with potential "partners" for such systems, and is seeking new ways to leverage application development, as well. Officials believe the new approach will dramatically cut risk and cost, enabling the Air Force to pay for the new applications by license fee rather than assuming the full development risk on cost-plus basis.

Local industry partners, however, remain skeptical such an approach could be taken before the new system is proven.

Photo: Lockheed Martin

AVIATION WEEK Copyright 2009, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

◄ Share this news!

Bookmark and Share


The Manhattan Reporter

Recently Added

Recently Commented