PAS 2011: Northrop Grumman pitches survivability upgrade
Northrop Grumman is developing a software upgrade to its APR-39 radar warning receiver as part of its Rotorcraft Avionics Innovation Laboratory (RAIL) initiative.
In order to connect systems such as the radar warning, cockpit displays, off-boarding information and mission computers, the RAIL suite was created to provide one common interface for all the systems onboard a helicopter, according to Jeff Palombo, VP and general manager of Northrop Grumman Land and Self Protection Systems Division, at the 2011 Paris Air Show.
The APR-39 receiver is the central element of the RAIL. Palombo said: '[It] is literally on every rotary-wing platform that's out there for the US and also for our allies.
'It acts as our suite controller for this demonstration. So all the things we talk about today are ran with the APR-39 as the heart of the system, with software packages that have been integrated onto the APR-39 and tied into these other systems without making hardware changes.'
Due to the extensive helicopter use in Iraq, Afghanistan and other theatres, the risk to rotary personnel is high, and a system that makes pilot's jobs easier and lessens the risk is deemed valuable. This, plus expensive platform-specific integration and test cycles, has led to the company developing the RAIL system.
In order to get the most out of existing systems, Northrop Grumman developed RAIL along with companies such as Goodrich, BAE Systems, ATK, Rockwell Collins and Harris Corporation, to provide an open architecture that integrates the various survivability equipment on the aircraft.
Palombo emphasised the need for technology from different companies to be integrated in order to get the best platforms and advancements for the pilot, pointing out that the customer does not want to be connected with, and put all its efforts into, just one industry product.
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