In support of the National Defense Strategy priorities, software engineering is increasingly important to continued innovation and long-term competition. While the nature of war has not changed, its character has, and future conflicts are increasingly transregional and cross land, sea, space and cyberspace.
While the FY2020 defense budget funds research toward new programs, field upgrades to existing platforms are critical to increase our competitiveness and ensure cyber resilience of existing hardware and software.
Across airborne platforms like the Apache and F35, there are several trends in software engineering to support these strategies:
Reducing SWaP-C with Multi-Core Processing
Multi-core processors present a significant opportunity to reduce SWaP-C on airborne platforms, exemplified by the AGP, or Airborne Gateway Processor, which increases the capabilities of a single-board computer (SBC) by 8x via 8 core processors. This integrated controller, originally developed by Leonardo in the UK, has been functionally modified to meet the unique needs of the Apache for the US military. Significant investment in development of the AGX has improved hardware and sensors, and now software advances can help to fully realize the processing speed and weight savings.
Like the many systems our software engineering team supports, the AGP, an integrated aircraft survivability equipment (ASE) controller, is built with a flexible architecture to allow for the addition of new and enhanced sensors and countermeasures without requalification of aircraft Operational Flight Programs.
Field Upgrades with Open Source Architecture
The US military is leading an international move toward open architecture to reduce costs and increase flexibility for new functionality. FACE, or future airborne capabilities environment, is a software standard developed by a consortium of software development leaders from industry and government. Leonardo Electronics US is designing security protocols for avionic systems that meet the FACE technical standard, allowing for affordable systems that support rapid integration of portable capabilities across programs. In short, open avionics help the US military to introduce more capabilities to the field faster while increasing interoperability and improving security.
“Innovation typically pushes hardware first. Now it’s software’s turn. The work we are doing today can significantly increase functionality in a smaller space, and open up new opportunities for airborne platforms”—Wes Pangborn, Engineering Manager, Leonardo Electronics US