Vetronics designers focus on reduced SWaP-C and enhanced C4ISR

August 04, 2014

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Government cutbacks may be slowing vetronics upgrades, but the defense industry is still focusing on initiatives to reduce size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C), as well as investing in command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) capabilities.

In the defense industry, a wide range of specialized ground platforms - such as Abrams, Bowman, Bradley, and Stryker - all rely on various vehicle electronics systems, a.k.a. "vetronics," to help drive or manage a military vehicle and its mission. Traditionally, these systems have not been interoperable, but current initiatives within vetronics circles are aimed at increasing the interoperability of the vehicles' electronics - from command and control to sensor processing payloads. The efforts are reducing SWaP-C and bringing more C4ISR capability to the platforms.

Operating a wide range of systems, which are siloed and bolted on, leads to vehicles undesirably overburdened with electronics gear that often isn't interoperable. This means warfighters are typically dealing with several separate systems - each with their own computers, screens, and keyboards - and frequently looking at data on one screen and then turning around and manually plugging it into another system.

One big piece of software is typically running all of the states and modes of the vehicle, so it's essential to get all of the many different systems - which tend to each be geared toward achieving separate specific tasks - to work seamlessly together. Power management is also a challenge as modern military vehicles are incredibly complex and equipped with a wide range of sophisticated systems that can require as much as 20 minutes to power up, so you can't just turn the key in the ignition and expect to drive right off.

Read the entire article by Sally Cole on Military Embedded Systems

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