Military Embedded Systems

Daily Briefing: News Snippets


April 02, 2008

Alice Moss

Military Embedded Systems

A roundup of the top technology news stories, including: Actel FPGA completes boot camp, Apache helicopter "switches" to modern Ethernet, Java helps DIANA brew, Israeli Air Force in a simulated world, astronaut makes appearance, and the merger of ITAA and GEIA, among others.

Actel FPGA completes technology boot camp

The RTAX4000S, a "rad-hard" FPGA often found in the ranks of spacecraft payload applications, recently earned its MIL-STD-883 Class B qualification after undergoing hours of rigorous tests: 80,000 hours of life testing and 1,000 hours of High-Temperature Operating Life (HTOL) testing. The 4-million gate FPGA is part of Actel's RTAX-S family, which has collectively achieved more than 2 million hours of device testing and flight heritage. The RTAX4000S is now progressing toward QML Class Q and QML Class V verification.


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Java-related technology to help brew DIANA's innovation

Though ideas are already percolating among participants of the European DIANA initiative, mission- and safety-critical solutions provider Aonix was recently chosen to join the effort. DIANA's forthcoming integrated modular electronics platform will cut operational/development costs of aircraft by modernizing execution environments and tools for safety-certifiable and hard real-time avionics systems; DIANA also promotes and defines common certification processes, strategies, and development. Aonix's chief role will be to provide virtual machine standards experience and PERC Pico technology, which grants Java's scalability and portability to low-level software component developers facing stringent memory footprint, performance, determinism, and response time requirements.

Israeli Air Force in a simulated world

Simulation. It's just not the same as being there - or is it? That's what the Israeli Air Force (IAF) is attempting to find out as it constructs its F-161 Flight and System Trainer. To create virtual terrain for the simulated exercises, the trainer utilizes technology provided by Presagis, including the Lyra image generator, Creator Terrain Studio, Creator Pro, and Creator Virtual Texture Studio. "Accurate and detailed content is vital to the development of realistic, immersive simulations," says Robert Kopersiewich, Vice President of Product Management at Presagis. The Flight and System trainer will focus on night vision goggle simulations and surface-to-air and air-to-surface weapons delivery training.

CompactPCI to help Navy's Mercury rise

The U.S. Navy's E-6B Mercury aircraft will soon soar a little higher (or at least a little better), if Performance Technologies has anything to say about it. The communication systems and platforms developer, in partnership with Rockwell Collins, is slated to give an internal electronics upgrade to Mercury - a strategic command post and communications relay aircraft operating between the National Command Authority (NCA) and U.S. non-strategic and strategic forces. Performance Technologies' contribution to the project consists of CompactPCI components such as its Intelligent Shelf Manager (ISM), which provides diagnostics and monitoring for remote systems, along with chassis mid-planes and Ethernet switches.

Apache helicopter to "switch" to modernized Ethernet technology

Parvus' COTS DuraNET 1059 ruggedized Fast Ethernet switch node is reporting for duty in the U.S Army's AH-64 Apache helicopter modernization program. The device was chosen by the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate (AATD) - a DoD entity responsible for developing, researching, and engineering rotorcraft and tactical UAV technology - in conjunction with a U.S. Army Quick Reaction Capability (QRC) initiative to increase situational awareness. Thirty-four units were ordered by press time, Parvus reports.


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NASA astronaut makes appearance at NTS

Making a relatively short trek on behalf of NASA, astronaut Jose Hernandez of Stockton, CA - along with representatives from space systems and advanced weapon company ATK - recently recognized National Technical Systems, Inc. at its Santa Clarita, CA test lab. The visit was dubbed a "Human Space Flight Motivational Visit" to reward NTS for its support of the Space Program, particularly for spacecraft launch components' thermal cycling, shock, and vibration testing. Meanwhile, Hernandez was chosen as an astronaut candidate in 2004, then completed multifaceted training by 2006: technical and scientific briefings, land and water survival, physiological training, International Space Station systems and space shuttle training, and T-38 flight instruction. He will complete technical assignments at the Shuttle Branch, supporting Kennedy Space Center Operations, until he is assigned as a mission specialist on a spaceflight.


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"One giant leap" for U.S. Air Force missile program

Finishing installation of six COIL (Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser) modules on the USAF's Airborne Laser (ABL) aircraft might seem like one small step for Boeing and associates; however, the company says it's actually one giant leap for the ABL missile defense program. Boeing Missile Defense Systems VP and general manager Scott Fancher praised the ABL weapon system integration team, indicating that their timely work installing components for the aircraft's high-energy laser leaves the program on schedule for a missile shoot-down planned for 2009. Overall, about 70 percent of laser integration is complete on the ABL aircraft, stationed at Edwards Air Force Base. Laser ground tests and activation will occur sometime after final laser inspections are performed.

CWCEC strengthens its overseas portfolio

Exemplifying the "strength in numbers" mantra, Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing (CWCEC) recently acquired UK-based ruggedized signal acquisition supplier Pentland Systems Ltd. Accordingly, the acquisition of the Livingston, Scotland company garners CWCEC several technology gains: analog, digital I/O, synchro/resolver, and IF/RF signal acquisition offerings aimed at SDR, radar, and SIGINT applications. The acquisition also builds CWCEC's European and UK market presence, enhancing its existing Letchworth, UK video and integration business unit.

ITAA and GEIA merger:

Union gives stronger voice to government electronics companies

In today's world, everyone wants to be heard, and the high tech industry is no exception. Accordingly, a recent merger linking the Government Electronics and Information Technology Association (GEIA) to the Information Technology Association of America (ITAA) lobbyist organization means the high tech industry's microphone has just been turned up in Washington.

Two-part equation benefits high-tech

The GEIA/ITAA merger makes GEIA its own group within ITAA, retaining the present GEIA board of directors. GEIA will serve as the "back office" of the merger's equation, providing industry standards and intelligence reports that ITAA then powers forward to the government (see sidebar). Frequent ITAA lobbying destinations include the U.S. Congress and agencies such as the DoD, GSA, OMB, and others.

"ITAA was really the logical choice for a lot of reasons. They have very strong government relations, they're very strong in the federal marketplace … and they have an excellent track record as far as representing industry on the Hill," explains GEIA president Dan Heinemeier.

The merger also blends GEIA's 110 members with ITAA's 300.

"You got 400 companies in any industry and it's a fairly represented cross-section probably," says Heinemeier. "Our expectation and our hope is that (we) will be more of a first point of contact for the government, when they want to know what the high technology industry cares about as far as policy is concerned."

Another benefit is more member sources for even more robust GEIA reports, he adds.

Charlie Greenwald, ITAA's Vice President, Communications, also anticipates benefits for ITAA members: expanded government relations, increased business development opportunities, access to GEIA's market intelligence, and the opportunity to participate in standards activities.

GEIA and ITAA work together

The GEIA/ITAA merger links these factors:

GEIA: Originated 1950s,

Membership: Companies supplying electronics or Information Technology (IT) to government, including Boeing, IBM, and others

Mission: 1. Develop industry standards - The ANSI-certified GEIA standards body focuses on business process standards (for example, setting up a systems engineering program).

2. Provide market intelligence - Produces its "10-Year Defense Market Forecast" and "5-Year Federal IT Forecast" reports annually, covering both the defense and nondefense government markets.

ITAA: Originated 1960s,

Membership: Corporate members, including small IT startups and big players in software, IT services, and the Internet, among others

Mission: To affect change on IT industry issues through governmental lobbying and business networking, concerning: taxes and finance policy, security, workforce and education, online privacy, and more.

Successes, as reported by Greenwald:

  1. Internet Tax Credit's long-term extension by Congress
  2. A study/delay of a new government payment withholding tax of 3%

Pending issues:

  1. Corporate R&D tax credit, which expired in November 2007
  2. Patent reform
  3. High-tech immigration (H1B Visas)