Electronics & Computers

Weapon Data Link Demonstration

One of the US Air Force's goals is to reduce the time needed to strike timesensitive targets, thus minimizing the adversary's perceived mobility advantage and leaving concealment as that enemy's primary defensive measure. One potential way to meet this challenge relies on a capability to redirect and update weapons with new target coordinates while they are in flight—a solution that requires weapons developers to outfit weapons with a data link enabling communications between warfighters operating in the air and on the ground. This Weapon Data Link (WDL) approach would allow the warfighter to directly communicate with and control air-launched weapons to strike moving or otherwise time-sensitive targets, while continually gathering information about the weapon's performance against those targets. The scenario could involve something as simple as a weapon communicating its position and system status back to the release aircraft, or something as complex as a weapon operating in the Global Information Grid (GIG), wherein a secondary ground/air controller assumes the weapon's control after a positive handoff from the release platform, with the weapon's sensor and video information autonomously distributed throughout the GIG.

Figure 1. Depiction of WDLAFRL engineers recently accomplished a critical step in demonstrating the WDL approach. Held at Langley Air Force Base (AFB), Virginia, the demonstration's primary objective was to show that two WDL terminals, connected to Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) laptop computers, could successfully transmit and receive J-series messages within a Link-16 network (see Figures 1 and 2). The network included a legacy Fighter Data Link (FDL) terminal provided by the 46th Test Squadron (Eglin AFB, Florida), two WDL terminals, and local aircraft equipped with Link-16 radios.

Engineers from AFRL and Rockwell Collins partnered to develop the 50 in3, software-defined WDL radio used in the demonstration. This radio provides multiple operators with the flexibility to port and upload communication waveforms. The device has three software waveforms loaded into its memory; the operator can switch between these waveforms as required. Although the test team limited this demonstration to Link-16 operation, future demonstrations will highlight the radio's capacity to receive and transmit ultra-high-frequency satellite communications and line-of-sight waveforms as well. The TACP Modernization program supplied the TACPCASS (Close Air Support System) software, laptop computers, and a trained operator. During the first part of the demonstration, one TACP computer generated target coordinates and transmitted them as J-series messages from one WDL terminal to the other. The TACP-CASS software on the second TACP computer interpreted and displayed the transmitted messages as target tracks. This test showed that messages generated by the TACP-CASS software could be correctly interpreted by the two networked WDL terminals and that this information could be shared between them. In the second phase of the demonstration, test engineers integrated the FDL terminal into the network. One of the TACP computers transmitted target information via Link-16 network protocol to the FDL terminal, which correctly interpreted and displayed the information on the Improved Multilink Translator and Display System (IMTDS). In the next phase, both computers correctly received, interpreted, and displayed target messages transmitted by the FDL terminal. In a final demonstration of system capability, several aircraft from Langley AFB joined the network for short periods of time, transmitting information that was subsequently displayed on both the TACP and IMTDS computers.

Figure 2. Setup of WDL demonstration equipmentAll demonstration participants gained valuable insight into using Link-16 networks for passing J-series messages between aircraft, weapons, and ground troops. The test team did not intend for the demonstration to provide an in-depth look at integrating weapons into battlefield networks. Rather, its purpose was to provide a rudimentary understanding of how an aircraft, weapon, and TACP could join and operate in an existing Link-16 network, while specifically demonstrating the capability of a software-defined WDL radio to transmit and receive J-series messages. The demonstration achieved its twofold purpose, both providing overall insight regarding the system and establishing the flexibility of a softwaredefined WDL radio in processing J-series messages within a representative network.

Ms. Michelle White, of the Air Force Research Laboratory's Munitions Directorate, wrote this article. For more information, contact TECH CONNECT at (800) 203-6451 or place a request at http://www.afrl.af.mil/techconn/index.htm. Reference document MN-H-05-14.


1 "China-America: The Great Game." Interview With Lt Gen Liu Yazhou. Eurasian Review of Geopolitics, Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso/Cassan Press-HK, Jan 05.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Data acquisition and handling, Personnel, Military aircraft

RASCAL Facility

AFRL's Radiation and Scattering Compact Antenna Laboratory (RASCAL) enables researchers to develop and evaluate advanced aperture technologies that support electronic warfare, radar, communication, and navigation— technologies supplementing a variety of applications as the "eyes and ears" of the warfighter. Current research efforts are concentrated on developing relatively small and inexpensive broadband, multifunctional antennas, as well as conformal and structurally integrated antennas for manned and unmanned air vehicles. Using the RASCAL facility, researchers can perform the necessary fabrication, simulation, testing, and measurement of aperture technologies.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers, Antennas, Test facilities, Military aircraft

Current Loop Controller (CLC) Eases Industrial Automation Retrofits

Micronor Inc.’s (Newbury Park, CA) MR267 Current Loop Controller (CLC) option remotely controls a motorized potentiometer and/or rotary cam switch via current, voltage input, or external potentiometer.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers

Hardware Debug Software Adds 64-bit JTAG, Flash Support

Macraigor Systems LLC (Brookline, MA) has added JTAG debug and Flash memory programming support for several Freescale PowerPC and MIPS processor support, in addition to existing ARM microprocessor support to its OCDemon debug suite.

Full JTAG debug and Flash programming support has been added for the Freescale MPC5200 rev. B processor and the Freescale 83xx PowerQUICC II Pro family of processors. Flash programming capabilities also have been expanded to include the Freescale MPC5500 and MAC71xx families of processors, as well as MIPS 5Kc-based, 64-bit processors, including the Phillips PR1900, Toshiba TX49, and Broadcom BCM1250 and BCM1125 processors. The Flash programmer is supported under Windows 98/ME, NT, 2000, and XP operating systems, as well as under Red Hat Linux versions 7.2 and 9.0. The software may work with other operating systems and versions, but has not been verified against such and is not guaranteed to work.

Macraigor also has added support for these processors to its pre-built GNU tools suite, including sample configurations for standard evaluation boards. These examples contain source, gdbinit, and make files for each board. The included demo program allows developers to easily build, download, and debug a small application via gdb. Macraigor’s JTAG interface devices are immediately available for the ARM7, ARM9, ARM11, and Intel XScale processor families. Fully installable versions of the GNU toolkits for both Windows and Linux are immediately available. These include demo programs allowing the end-user to be up and running within minutes of the installation.

Also available is a version of OCDRemote, allowing users to use other versions of the GNU toolset with Macraigor’s hardware. GCC, the GNU Compiler Collection, includes front ends for C and C++ ARM compilers. The GNU Assembler, part of the GNU Tools software suite, is the assembler used to convert ARM assembly language source code into binary object files.

Other recent additions to OCDemon’s supported processor list include the AMCC PowerPC 440GP, 440EP, and 440GX processors. Macraigor has also updated their GNU tools suite to include example configurations for the AMCC Bamboo, Yosemite, Ebony, and Ocotea evaluation boards. Other recent additions include AMD Geode low-voltage NX processor and Freescale i.MX31 and i.MX31L multimedia application processors.

The OCDemon family of debug tools is immediately available for the listed processors and functions. OCD Commander, an assembly-level software debugger, and OCD Remote, the GNU tools suite, are available at no charge from the Macraigor Web site.

For Free Info Visit http://info.ims.ca/5655-404

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers

USB Digital I/O Board Enables High-Speed Digital Monitoring and Control

ACCES I/O Products (San Diego, CA) offers the Model USB-IIRO-16, featuring 16 Form C (SPDT) electromechanical relays and 16 optically isolated digital inputs. The board is designed to meet the needs of industrial systems monitoring and control. The industrial I/O market commonly uses electromechanical Form C relays due to their robustness and ability to withstand unexpected surge currents, allowing for increased flexibility in switching capability. These relays also are used where small reed relays are inadequate due to their susceptibility to contact damage.

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers

PLL/Synthesizer Includes VCO

Crystek Corporation’s (Fort Myers, FL) CPLL66 family is the company’s first foray into the PLL/Synthesizer market. Designed for digital radio equipment, fixed wireless access, satellite communications systems, base stations, personal communications systems, portable radios, and test instruments, the CPLL66 is a complete PLL/ Synthesizer that only needs an external frequency reference and supply voltages to operate the internal PLL (phase lock loop) and VCO (voltage controlled oscillator).

Posted in: Products, Products, Electronics & Computers

A Software Development Process for Small-Scale Embedded Systems

Developing software for small-scale embedded applications is different from developing large-scale software applications. Large-scale applications use commercially available ‘one fits all’ software development solutions that are difficult to scale downward and usually miss the desired process goals. In many cases, developing a small-scale software application development process within an existing corporate environment is quicker, less expensive, and results in superior developer productivity and product quality.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Software, Embedded software, Product development

Choosing Among ZigBee RF Power Options for Your Wireless Application

While often associated with home automation, the new ZigBee wireless data standard is making fast inroads into industrial, military, and aerospace applications. By supplying highly reliable, wireless mesh networking at very low cost, ZigBee enables improvements to traditional sensing and monitoring applications, and enables new applications that would otherwise be impractical.

Posted in: Articles, Articles, Electronics & Computers, Power electronics, Wireless communication systems

F-35 Antenna Measurement Program

Engineers are conducting sophisticated performance testing of F-35 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) antennas at the AFRL Newport Research Facility, New York. Through an agreement with the F-35 Joint Program Office, engineers from Lockheed Martin and AFRL's Rome Research Site are collaborating on the test effort. Because antenna testing is occurring early in the aircraft development cycle, the team is using a model—a full-scale F-35 replica—to measure the installed performance of the aircraft's communications, navigation, identification, and electronic warfare antennas. The goal of this testing program is to optimize antenna performance and identify and correct antenna problems before the aircraft design is finalized and antenna system changes consequently become more difficult and expensive to incorporate.

Posted in: Briefs, Electronics & Computers