New-generation Thales Navigation Unit Chosen for KC-390

AIN Defense Perspective » May 18, 2012
Embraer has chosen the Thales high-performance inertial reference system to support all-weather navigation by the new Embraer KC-390 military airlifter. (Photo: Thales)
May 18, 2012, 11:54 AM

Thales will provide its high-performance inertial reference system (HPIRS) and GPS to support all-weather operations by the new Embraer KC-390 military transport. The French avionics manufacturer described the new-generation HPIRS as a “technological breakthrough” in inertial and GPS navigation, combining advantages of a civil-certified product with the performance required for a military aircraft. It is the company’s first HPIRS contract for a military transport aircraft.

“Thales HPIRS and GPS will provide unique capability to the KC-390 and will contribute to the success of the program. After a rigorous selection process, Thales’ solution was clearly the best one for the KC-390,” stated Eduardo Bonini Santos Pinto, Embraer Defense and Security senior vice president of operations.

Thales specializes in ring-laser gyro inertial reference systems and embedded global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receivers. The company is also supplying the air data and inertial reference unit (ADIRU)–a hybrid inertial and GPS solution–of the in-development Airbus A350XWB commercial widebody. The tri-axis laser-gyro technology of the HPIRS is the same as that used for Ariane and Vega rockets as well as for the A350. The Thales TopStar 200 GNSS receiver is used in the multi-mode receiver of the Airbus A320 series and A400M airlifter, as well as the Sikorsky S-76.

Thales said the HPIRS system architecture will provide a significant reduction in life cycle and maintenance costs. Its modular design will be scalable for “a large range” of civil and military aircraft.

Embraer and the Brazilian government launched the KC-390 in April 2009 as a replacement for Brazilian air force C-130s. The aircraft’s flight deck is based on the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion avionics suite developed for business and regional jets. Embraer is jointly developing the KC-390 with Chile for that country’s air force. Initial flight tests are planned for 2014 and deliveries in 2016.

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