Military Embedded Systems

Daily Briefing: News Snippets


November 11, 2008

Alice Moss

Military Embedded Systems

A news center for today's mil-embedded technologies. Headlines include: SIA, ITAA applaud U.S. "$700 billion bailout," NATO gets help with heavy (air)lifting, Northrop Grumman is right on target, USJFCOM revamps contract recompete, "obsolescence-proof design" now available, and other briefings.

SIA, ITAA applaud U.S. '$700 billion bailout'

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Amidst the controversy surrounding the "$700 billion bailout" or "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" recently signed into U.S. law, the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) have released statements voicing their approval. "We applaud the President and members of the Senate and House of Representatives for … enactment of the financial services rescue measure," George Scalise, SIA president, says. "We are also very pleased that the bill includes a two-year R&D tax credit extension". SIA estimates that more than 50,000 of 216,000 U.S. semiconductor industry employees work in R&D. Meanwhile, ITAA estimates some $14 billion in R&D opportunities were likely lost in the interim. "The R&D credit would have spurred more than $18.594 billion in new economic activity in [all of] 2008. Those economic gains were put at risk during the nearly 10 months the credit was lapsed", says Charles Greenwald, ITAA representative. The new R&D tax credit extension is retroactive from Jan. 1, 2008 and runs through Dec. 31, 2009.

USMC: Knowledge is key

Awareness is often the first step, a mantra the U.S. Marine Corps is taking to task. Case in point: The USMC recently issued a delivery order for $23.2 million to L-3 Communications to provide 600 of its mobile VideoScout-MC video exploitation, acquisition, and management systems. The VideoScout-MC laptop computers, which feature integrated multiband receivers, will provide real-time video imagery for increased battlefield situational awareness. Metadata and video are captured from Unmanned Aerial Systems (UASs), intelligence feeds, targeting PODs, and other sensors, and are indexed and stored automatically. They can also be viewed, annotated, archived, or geo-referenced, then sent to other personnel. Delivery is expected in Q408.

NATO gets help with heavy lifting

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A consortium consisting of 10 NATO members and 2 Partnership for Peace countries has reached an understanding - or rather signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) - to acquire three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. The multinational consortium's agreement with the NATO Airlift Management Agency and the U.S. DoD is part of NATO's Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) program, slated to provide advanced airlift capabilities in Afghanistan and on U.N. and E.U. missions. The MOU stipulates that one C-17 is provided by the U.S. Air Force, the other two by Boeing. The C-17 long-range cargo jets will be stationed at Papa Air Force Base in Hungary and operated jointly by all 12 consortium nations: Hungary, Lithuania, Norway, The Netherlands, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Estonia, Romania, the United States, Sweden, and Finland. Each country will pay for only part of the C-17 instead of a whole aircraft, and the first C-17 delivery could occur by spring 2009. The MOU represents the first major NATO defense acquisition in three decades, Boeing reports.

Northrop Grumman is right on target

Northrop Grumman will soon prove that precision is key on the battlefield: Its LRS-2000 Rate Sensor Assembly (RSA), boasting a drift rate under one degree per hour, was recently chosen by prime General Dynamics Land Systems to be part of the U.S. Army's Stabilized Commander's Weapon Station (SCWS) for the M1A1 Abrams tank. SCWS offers increased protection from IEDs and enemy gunfire by enabling soldiers to stay inside the tank while firing the M1A1's machine gun. Meanwhile, the LRS-2000 RSA features a two-axis design and supports targeting applications. LRS-2000 RSA is based on Northrop Grumman's dynamically tuned G-2000 gyro, which provides an MTBF of more than 100,000 hours. The LRS-2000 RSA prototype passed Army field testing in July, and the first production unit delivery is expected in June 2009.

TECOM to become more secure

Insecurity is generally deemed a negative trait, and experts agree it is particularly harmful in high tech, in light of external security attacks. Thus, the Information Technology for European Advancement (ITEA) consortium recently signed on mission- and safety-critical software solutions provider Aonix for the Trusted Embedded COMputing (TECOM) project. TECOM aims to develop an execution environment that is secure enough to withstand such attacks. Aonix will lend both its security expertise and an adapted version of its (Java) PERC Ultra virtual machine to TECOM. The adapted PERC will include integration with TECOM trusted OSs and the TECOM middleware security layer. Additionally, it will provide a partitioned execution environment within multi-application systems.

USJFCOM revamps contract recompete

To invoke a win/win situation for companies both large and small, war fighters, and even taxpayers, the U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) recently announced it will change its Joint Concept Development and Experimentation Directorate (J9) contract's composition. Expiring in summer 2009, the $478 million contract's recompetition will include multiple contracts instead of only one large contract, in an effort to foster competition, lower prices, and improve project manageability and access to talent. The recompetition began in October, with anticipation of in-place solicitations by 2008's year end. This new recompete approach is in lock-step with the 2008 National Defense Authorization Act to reduce single-award contracts of large magnitude, USJFCOM reports.

'Obsolescence-proof design' now available

Some things never go out of style. At least that's what Quantum3D is banking on with the claim that its Sentiris AV1 XMC features an "obsolescence-proof design". Their assertion is founded on the XMC's utilization of a Xilinx Virtex-5 FPGA-based graphics- and video-processing core instead of traditional dedicated Graphics Processing Units (GPUs). GPUs can rapidly go obsolete via End-of-Life (EOL) notices, the company says; however, the FPGA is programmed like an embedded GPU and is upgradeable over the product's lifetime. In addition, the Sentiris AV1 XMC includes fully DO-254 certifiable firmware and can be integrated with any CPU environment or OS. The conduction-cooled XMC meets MIL-STD-810F for harsh environments. It also offers 512 MB ECC-protected DDR2 memory, eight PCI Express lanes, dual HD-SDI outputs, and dual RGB.

Water, water everywhere … yet nowhere

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As scientists ponder the mystery of where the Red Planet's once-liquid water disappeared to, Lockheed Martin and NASA will conduct definitive research via NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) program to find the answer. The $485 million project analyzes Mars' past weather changes and upper atmosphere, and is led by the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). Planned for a late 2013 launch and fall 2015 Mars landing, MAVEN focuses on the role of solar wind and its contribution to current atmospheric losses. MAVEN is based on the designs of Lockheed Martin's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), both of which are still orbiting Mars and conducting scientific operations. MAVEN is NASA's Mars Scout Program's second mission, while the Phoenix Mars Lander is the first.

EADS eases transition to U.S. locale

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While transitions are typically accompanied by obstacles, EADS North America reports that its plan to gradually and fully transition production of the U.S. Army's UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopter to U.S. soil is progressing smoothly. Accordingly, the company recently delivered the first Final Assembly Line (FAL) version of the UH-72A to the Army from EADS' Columbus, Mississippi Eurocopter facility. The company was awarded the UH-72A contract in 2006, and continues to transition toward full U.S. production in three phases: Light Assembly Line (LAL), FAL, and Production Line (PL). The FAL helicopter finished 7 of 14 production assembly stations in the U.S. and is EADS North America's 41st UH-72A delivery. No. 41 also includes the first tail boom manufactured entirely in the U.S. The Lakotas will continue in the FAL phase until they can move through all 14 Columbus stations, signifying full U.S. production transition. UH-72As are anticipated for use in homeland security, Army National Guard and Army logistics, and MEDEVAC operations.


Avionics - Software