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Collins Aerospace Building Key Technology for the Future of Multi-Domain Test and Training Capability (sponsored)
This article is brought to you by Raytheon Technologies.
In an age of ever-evolving complexity of the battlefield, as there is a need for bringing convergence across all domains with seamless, dynamic and continuous integration of capabilities to decide on the right offensive and defensive effects, with all the necessary information at hand, there is also a growing demand for solutions to enable the notion of “Train as you fight – Fight as you train”
Collins Aerospace, part of Raytheon Technologies, has been building technology to enable the reality of that vision.
The company is currently maturing its already fielded solution for the Common Range Integrated Instrumentation System (CRIIS) and soon to reach IOC Tactical Combat Training System Increment II (TCTS Inc. II) programs. CRIIS fulfills a global test requirement to provide time, space and position information (TSPI) and systems evaluation data to support current and next-generation aircraft testing as demonstrated by its flight earlier this year on an F-22. The US Navy and US Marine Corps TCTS Inc. II and associated USAF P6 CTS program, meanwhile, replace the current range training infrastructure with the aim of advancing aircrew proficiency training across all squadrons and fleet forces.
Chip Gilkison, Collins Aerospace Director of Business Development, said the original vision for the test and training ranges in the US is to have a single pod or internal-mount to carry out both test and training activities. While CRIIS was ultimately focused on the test ranges, the company is now on contract to converge CRIIS and TCTS Inc. II. “Right now, if a range had CRIIS and TCTS II pods, they’d have to alternate using them, depending on whether they wanted to conduct a test or a training mission. This effort will determine how CRIIS and TCTS II converge,” Gilkison said. “We’re on contract with the Western U.S. Ranges and we believe our work will lead to an ECP [engineering change proposal] to TCTS II around 2025, which will bring CRIIS and TCTS II to a common baseline. You can imagine the savings by only having to maintain one part number per airborne unit.”
Gilkison said this work would include experiments in conjunction with the US Navy and US Air Force in order to help advance live, virtual, constructive (LVC) research.” In February, Collins Aerospace released images of the first flight in July 2020. During developmental testing, the system effectively hosted synthetic threats that were recognized and correlated by the F-18 Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) without having to modify the F-18 operational flight program software. This shows the synthetic inject to live (SITL) capability of the system which allows the live aircraft to interact realistically with synthetic threats and aircraft. This is just one example of the SITL capabilities available on TCTS II as it declares Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 2022.
Originally awarded to the then-Rockwell Collins in 2017, TCTS Inc. II enables the rapid adaptation of new missions and threats into training as well as enabling joint and coalition interoperability with fourth and fifth generation aircraft platforms “TCTS II meets the requirements from a 2003 joint requirement that went unfulfilled for the last 17 years. The current solution didn’t have Multiple Independent Levels of Security (MILS) encryption, cross-domain solutions, software defined radios with a training waveform or sufficient onboard processing. The Navy sought to close those gaps with TCTS II.” Gilkison explained. It’s this technology that motivated the USAF earlier this year to sign a memorandum signalling their intent to join the TCTS II program to build their own P6 Combat Training System.
Gilkison also said that while the hardware featured differing form factors depending on the aircraft, the system was based on a common software baseline. “For example, we have a pod that looks about the same size as an AIM-9 missile that goes on the wing of an F-15, F-16, F-18, Typhoon or trainer aircraft. We also have one for the F-35 that will go inside the aircraft for obvious reasons to maintain stealth but, again, has all the same modules and software running,” he explained. “And then on the ground, we have a ground component that scales to the size of the exercise that you want. If you want to throw a case in the back of a Humvee and drive to the top of the hill and set up an ad hoc training range, you can do that too. ”
Collins Aerospace’s open architecture design and the use of industry standards allow the US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Air Force and our coalition partners to rapidly advance future technology insertions. The system will be exportable for coalition and NATO countries. Collins Aerospace is securing its first international customer that should be announced later this year. “Employing open architecture standards allow third parties to develop their own applications for plug and play into other people’s architecture. Open architecture prevents vendor lock meaning our customers don’t have to come to Collins Aerospace for new capabilities. They can go to third parties that are best in class have them design applications for use on their own system.”
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