Historically, tactical ground vehicles have been burdened by large 'bolt-on' command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) electronics packages equipped with proprietary, 'stove-piped' communication interfaces, coupled with numerous independent GPS and human-machine interface (HMI) peripheral devices. This approach has taxed not only the technology acquisition and upgrade cost for these vehicle programmes, and the interoperability of vetronics subsystems, but also impacted the physical space allotted for people, ammunition and supplies.
Modern efforts like the US Army's Vehicle Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability (VICTORY) initiative and the UK Ministry of Defence's Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) are helping to shift the current paradigm of systems engineering. These initiatives enable the deployment of an open, scalable vetronics system architecture. Even better, the use of modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies are allowing network-enabled switching; shared processing; and assured positioning, navigation and timing (A-PNT) services for size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C)-constrained tactical ground vehicles.
These C4ISR modernisation initiatives provide a common ground-vehicle infrastructure to ease the integration of new technologies. Through the use of open network interfaces, data formats and protocols, it's now possible to enable integration and sharing of network, processing, PNT and display resources. In addition to the benefit of enhanced situational awareness for the warfighter, these modernisation initiatives will also provide a roomier vehicle cabin and more efficient data sharing, while reducing overall life-cycle costs for maintaining the platform.
An example of a cost-effective COTS solution for bringing these numerous benefits to ground vehicles is Curtiss-Wright's Parvus DuraDBH-672 Digital Beachhead line replaceable unit (LRU). With 16 ports of gigabit Ethernet (GbE) switching in a small-form-factor (SFF) rugged design, the DuraDBH-672 delivers a 'VICTORY Infrastructure Switch'. The LRU is in production and qualified to MIL-STD wheeled and tracked-vehicle environmental requirements. It also affords nuclear survivability with optional nuclear event detection (NED) capabilities. The DuraDBH-672 is the first rugged COTS single-box solution integrating a GbE switch and quad-core vetronics processor for supporting VICTORY services and mounted A-PNT capabilities in a MIL-STD qualified SFF chassis.
This second-generation VICTORY system extends the capabilities introduced by the original Digital Beachhead (commonly referred to as the 'VICTORY starter kit' already used by the US Army) but in a lower-cost, smaller-form-factor chassis more optimised for SWaP and more flexible in terms of I/O scalability. Compared with the original Digital Beachhead, the DuraDBH-672 reduces overall size by 50% while also reducing system weight and cost. The LRU supports ground-vehicle and airborne-platform applications with MIL-STD-704/1275 power compatibility and MIL-STD-810G environmental requirements for tactical land vehicles and aircraft platforms. Functional upgrades are supported by mini-PCIe add-on cards (for more serial/Ethernet/DIO ports), along with modularity to host an embedded SASSM or M-Code military GPS receiver. It can also support other A-PNT components, such as a chip-scale atomic clock (CSAC) or inertial measurement unit (IMU) - important capabilities for army vehicles operating in GPS-denied environments.
The DuraDBH-672 features a multicore ARM-based Freescale i.MX6 processor-based vetronics computer capable of supporting general-purpose processing requirements or optional VICTORY data-bus management and shared processor services. The rugged subsystem is dust and waterproof (IP67), and runs fanless under extended operating temperatures. Designed for high shock/vibration requirements, the DuraDBH-672 integrates a filtered, transient-protected power supply for aircraft and vehicle use (compliant to MIL-STD-1275, MIL-STD-704) and includes circular MIL-DTL-38999 connectors on its front panel for reliable network connections.
COTS-based solutions for VICTORY and GVA can consolidate what have traditionally been multiple stand-alone LRUs into a single multifunction system solution. These modular subsystems enable vehicle system architects to significantly reduce integration, SWaP and complexity while supporting future capability enhancements.