Farnborough Air Show

CMC’s TacView offers military sharper image

 - July 7, 2008, 7:01 AM

CMC Electronics (Hall 4 Stand C16a) has brought its new TacView portable mission display to Farnborough as part of a global marketing effort aimed at both manufacturers and users of fast jets, fixed-wing military transports and helicopters. The new product, which the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) already has adopted, is derived from the company’s PilotView electronic flight bag (EFB).

Chuck Praeger, military aviation marketing manager, said the device is designed to meet the primary military need for situational awareness information. “Some of this information is already presented in the back of the cockpit on certain types of transports, but the pilots don’t necessarily have direct access to that,” he explained. “They don’t have a display that can provide them with the same information.”
TacView uses the same aircraft interface unit as its commercial counterpart to provide power and a comprehensive range of connectivity options, but the processor and touch-screen display assembly has been adapted for military flight deck use. “We added night-vision imaging system (NVIS) compliant backlighting,” Praeger said. “We also improved the display so that it is sunlight-readable to military standards.”

That meant much higher contrast and much better reflectivity of ambient light to cope with the light levels encountered in fighter and helicopter cockpits. There were also improvements to the bezel buttons, which have been raised and separated by ridges to make it easier for flight-gloved hands to select the right button and modified to provide enhanced tactile feedback when they are depressed.

TacView retains the PilotView’s compact flash memory, which avoids the potential problems posed by a rotating hard drive. “Everything’s basically solid state; there are no moving parts at all,” said Praeger.

The flash drive also improves processor-to-memory speed. “You get a little bit faster performance with the TacView, as you do with the PilotView, and our military users have actually noted that in relation to some of the laptops that they have tried carrying on board their aircraft,” claimed Praeger.

As well as flying TacView on its AC-130 gunships, AFSOC is purchasing additional units as funding permits, and he anticipates a drive toward a fleet-wide fit that would include the command’s KC-130 transports, various helicopters and EV-22 tiltrotors.
There has also been interest from fighter manufacturers, according to CMC. In April, during the USAF’s Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 08 at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, F-22 and F-16 pilots used TacViews as terminals to share images and text messages over an experimental tactical targeting network.

The F-16 pilots who used the device carried it on a knee-pad mount that CMC has developed. This has been subjected to ejection seat sled testing to ensure that the additional weight would not injure the pilot during an ejection, and that cables
and connectors would separate as required.