U.S. Navy Completes JPALS Ship-Based EMD Phase

 - January 3, 2014, 10:05 AM
The Navy’s VX-23 air test and evaluation squadron flew 60 autolands to the deck of the USS Theodore Roosevelt using the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System. (Photo: Navair)

The U.S. Navy recently completed engineering and manufacturing (EMD) development of the ship-based component of the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System (Jpals). The EMD phase of Jpals Increment 1A for ship systems included auto landings by F/A-18C Hornets to the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt. The Increment 1B phase calls for integrating the system on aircraft.

Jpals is a GPS-based precision approach and landing system that will help ship- and land-based aircraft land in all weather conditions, providing guidance to 200 feet decision height and half-nautical-mile visibility. It is a tri-service program with multiple increments to include Air Force and Army requirements, eventually replacing “several aging and obsolete aircraft landing systems with a family of systems that is more affordable and will function in more operational environments,” according to the Department of Defense (DoD).

The Navy conducted EMD demonstrations aboard the Roosevelt from November 9 to 19, logging approximately 30 flight test hours and 60 completed autolands to the deck using two F/A-18Cs operated by its VX-23 air test and evaluation squadron. The jets were equipped with Jpals “functionally representative” test kits.

The Jpals ship system includes multiple racks of equipment inside the ship and multiple GPS and UHF antennas on the mast, according to the Naval Air Systems Command (Navair), the contracting authority for sea-based Jpals. The system includes integrated processing, maintenance and monitoring systems and redundant UHF datalinks, inertial sensors and GPS sensors to achieve high reliability and availability. “Jpals is networked with legacy shipboard landing systems, but is capable of operating independently of those systems,” Navair said.

Arinc, which served as lead technical contractor to the Navy during technology development of the system, said Jpals will integrate with the AN/TPX-42 air traffic control console, the AN/SPN-46 automatic carrier landing system, the AN/SPN-41 instrument landing system, the landing signal officer display system, the improved Fresnel lens optical landing system, the aviation data management and control system, and the Moriah Wind System. Last year, Rockwell Collins acquired Arinc.

In July 2008 Navair awarded Raytheon a $232 million contract for Jpals system development and demonstration, to include the delivery of eight ship system engineering development models and four aircraft system test avionics sets. Rockwell Collins, a major subcontractor, provides its digital integrated GPS anti-jam receiver.

Defense budget uncertainty has delayed a Milestone C decision that would begin low-rate production of the system, according to Navair. Congress authorized $194.7 million for the program in the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act passed in December, some $10 million less than the President’s request. The DoD has programmed funding for Jpals over the entirety of its five-year future-years defense program.

Future development efforts are focused on supporting integration of Jpals with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and on improving support for unmanned aircraft systems, Navair said.