Standardize Missile-Test Telemetry with Modular Systems

June 04, 2020

Standardize Missile-Test Telemetry with Modular Systems

Published in Microwaves & RF

An essential, but costly, element of any missile program is the telemetry package (telepack) used to acquire flight and performance data for flight test programs. During flight tests, the telemeter typically takes the place of the missile’s warhead. However, in cases where space warrants, smaller telemeters can co-reside in the missile shroud along with the explosives.

Telemeters are used in a wide variety of critical modern missile, pod, and bomb applications, including development testing, weapon simulation, pilot training, and lot sampling. A complete telemeter subsystem will integrate a mix of data-acquisition units (DAUs) to capture and format data; electronics to provide time, space, and position information; batteries; and other components that provide encryption, RF transmission, recording, flight termination, and tracking capabilities, as required (Fig. 1).

Shown is a cross-section view of a proposed fully integrated modular telemetry system in missile shroud. It’s completely designed with Curtiss-Wright components, including off-the-shelf data-acquisition modules.

1. Shown is a cross-section view of a proposed fully integrated modular telemetry system in missile shroud. It’s completely designed with Curtiss-Wright components, including off-the-shelf data-acquisition modules.

Today’s telemeters are custom systems, specifically built by a prime contractor and often using components sourced by multiple vendors for each individual missile platform and test regimen. The different components must be integrated together, adding design and schedule risk.

The custom approach also adds unnecessary costs and program risk, which, by decreasing the affordability of missile programs, can become a hurdle to increased acquisition and deployment. Simply put, the lower the telemeter cost, the more missiles the government can buy. The more expensive the telemeter, the fewer missiles they will buy.

Going Modular to Cut Costs

A better, more cost-effective alternative to today’s custom telemeter designs is to leverage modular architectures based on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware to integrate a complete telepack system. An open-architecture approach using proven, pre-qualified data-acquisition modules will not only lower program costs but will also ease and speed the deployment of telemeters for test programs. Even better, because the standard modules are employed by a wide customer base, it significantly increases telemeter reliability due to broad market feedback and ongoing product improvement.

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Paul Cook

Paul Cook

Director of Missile Systems, Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

Paul Cook is the Director of Missile Systems at Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions.  He has 37 years of extensive design and product line experience in Telemetry Systems.  He has held engineering and management positions in design and development, embedded encryption, RF subsystems and data links, engineering and business management, and program management. He has 34 years of experience in the telemetry industry and three years in information assurance Type I CCEP certifications. Paul joined Teletronics in 2007 and, in addition, worked in the telemetry Industry for General Dynamics Corporation, Aydin Corporation, and L-3 Communications Corporation. Paul obtained a BS degree from The College of New Jersey and has various postgraduate courses towards an MBA and program management certifications.

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