U.S. Army, Navy Enthusiastic about Common Avionics Environment

 - February 3, 2012, 10:00 AM
A U.S. Army OH-58D Kiowa Warrior conducts aerial reconnaissance over Afghanistan. The Army is testing an open-architecture improved data modem using the Kiowa Warrior and other platforms to create a data-sharing network. (Photo: U.S. Army)

A U.S. industry and government consortium issued technical guidance January 30 for a common avionics system operating environment supporting applications across a range of military aircraft. The Future Airborne Capability Environment (Face) is designed to support software reuse and portability and lessen the cost and time needed for technology insertions and upgrades.

Release of the technical standard was announced by the Face Consortium, an industry and government collaboration sponsored by Lockheed Martin, the Naval Air Systems Command (Navair), Rockwell Collins and the Army Program Executive Office for Aviation. The consortium, formed in June 2010, said product development and government procurement based on the Face standard have already started. For its first application, the Army is using the standard in developing an open-architecture improved data modem, a system that interconnects radios to share sensor and tactical data among platforms including helicopters and unmanned aircraft.

“Software portability is essential to reducing costs and expediting the fielding of new capabilities to our aviation war fighters,” said Col. Anthony W. Potts, the Army’s project manager for aviation systems. “The naval aviation enterprise recognizes that future capability will come from systems controlled by software,” added Vice Adm. David Architzel, Navair’s commander. “With the creation of the Face technical standard, the Department of Defense and our industry partners are setting the direction for software portability and interoperability. This standard will enable reduced costs and speed delivery of technical innovation to the warfighting community.”

The Face effort is managed by a larger technology- and vendor-neutral consortium, The Open Group, which facilitates development of information technology standards and certifications. Listed as principals of the Face Consortium are ATK, Bell Helicopter, Boeing, Elbit Systems of America, General Dynamics, Green Hills Software, Harris, Mitre, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Sikorsky Aircraft, the Army’s Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center and Wind River. There are 20 associate members.