By Daniel Eckiss: New concepts to enable multi-domain operations (MDO) are emerging from Government, industry and non-traditional sources at an ever-quickening pace. Likewise, innovative technology incubation and rapid acquisition contract vehicles implemented by the U.S. Army and Department of Defense are moving technology from concept to prototype faster than ever. Prototypes are great tools to gather user feedback and perfect concepts in a non-operational environment. However, the warfighter benefit of our nation’s investment in leap-ahead technology research and development is not realized until enabling technology is integrated, trained and fielded. It is critical that the requirements for both new and legacy platform integration are understood and planned for early in a technology development program. This is particularly pertinent to the Army’s future vertical lift programs and Avalex Technologies Corporation has stepped up with a well-received solution that assists the Army in addressing this challenge – the Avalex family of Cockpit Management Units.
Near Term and Future Synchronization
Current Army aviation platforms are projected to be in the fight for the next 20 years as future vertical lift is developed and tested. Therefore, MDO enabling solutions will first be fielded on UH-60s, CH-47s, AH-64s and other existing platforms. Avalex understands that an investment in technology should therefore fit both the near-term upgrade path and have enough lifecycle and expandability to synchronize into future platforms. Our cockpit management unit (CMU) product family has been selected to solve cross-platform technology insertion problems well into the future.
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Future Requirements, Simplified
As MDO mission requirements expand, so do the number of communications, identification, navigation and survivability components that get bolted to existing platforms. Each new component comes with a list of integration and aircrew training requirements, and with this diversity and expansion comes the inherent complications of parts and software compatibility.
Platform operational flight programs (OFPs) were not written to respond to today’s rapid technology insertion cycles. The Avalex CMU provides a federated hub for user interface and platform data sharing that enables new component integration in months or weeks versus years. The CMU model-based software and proven RTOS aligned with DO-178C provides assured access to mission critical components. Our full-featured CMU Software Developers’ Kit (SDK) enables cooperative development with U.S. Army software teams. New components can be added to a CMU software defined control head through field-installable software configurations. Last minute ground force, coalition and other mission requirements for additional gear can be accommodated as easily as downloading a new app on a smart phone.
Train Experts Faster
Well designed and integrated technology solutions are useless until operators and maintainers achieve a professional level of proficiency in the new concept of operations (CONOPS). The Avalex CMU product line is architected to solve this problem through application of a common and industry-standard user interface. Avionics best practices are applied in a consistent method that extends across all brands of communication, identification, navigation and survivability components connected to the CMU. This application allows for accelerated first-time proficiency and prevents re-training when the next generation component makes its way through the R&D pipeline. Reduced training demands especially benefits our Army aviators in the ARNG and USAR communities who are expected to maintain proficiency with 1/30th the time in the seat.
Maintaining the Momentum
Avalex is dedicated to providing innovative products that empower our customers to achieve mission success. Since 1992, they have helped improve communication, facilitate exploration and save lives. For U. S. Army aviation in particular, the benefits of our innovative cockpit management offering are clear. Common controls and expandable, model-based software make the Avalex CMU product family an ideal solution to synchronize across current and future platforms as aircrew and maintainer proficiency will seamlessly transition.
Learn more about the capabilities of the Avalex Cockpit Management Unit family of products at https://avalex.com/product-category/cmu/
Daniel Eckiss is the director of Product Management for Avalex Technologies.