Pods: Bridging the SWaP-constrained Gap Between Old and New
A customer approached Curtiss-Wright with a requirement to upgrade their legacy pods modules. Located on the wing, side, or underbelly of a military aircraft, pods can serve several purposes. For example, targeting pods contain infrared sensors used to project target images to the pilot in the cockpit, while navigation pods allow the pilot to see ‘through’ objects and targets in a variety of visibility and weather conditions. Because pods are entirely self-contained, they have strict legacy power and cooling specifications that cannot be modified, as well as legacy temperature, vibration, and shock requirements that are difficult to meet with modern COTS hardware.
The pods’ location in very small, uniquely-shaped spaces on the outside of the aircraft necessitate not only a highly ruggedized solution that can withstand harsh environmental conditions, but also a size, weight and power (SWaP)-optimized footprint. In addition, pods are historically made with proprietary form factors, which makes the switch to newer COTS modules difficult. This customer needed an upgrade in processing power, without any modification to the interconnect of their current system. All these requirements made a pods upgrade – especially to flexible, modern COTS hardware - a significant challenge.
Because we were able to accommodate this customer’s legacy interfaces as well as their power, current draw, and thermal requirements – all on new COTS designs with upgraded processing power – our solution helped them retain their proprietary infrastructure. In this way, our customer avoided obsolescence issues while gaining modern processing technology. Our XMC modules gave these pods capabilities they’ve never previously had, including the flexibility to mount, power, and communicate in the very unorthodox size and shape of the pod. With this upgrade, our customer finally got a generational improvement – not just an evolutionary one. Not only that, Curtiss-Wright was the only supplier able to meet the pods application’s significant design challenges in the time frame and price point that was required, resulting in an extremely satisfied customer.
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