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Readiness is Focus of Amended DoD Appropriations Request

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Readiness is Focus of Amended DoD Appropriations Request

Additional appropriations requested for the FY 2017 Defense Budget are dominated by technology upgrades, added aircraft procurements and modernization investments.

JEFF CHILD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

At the time of this month’s COTS Journal going to press, the new Administration still has not yet put out their DoD budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2018. On “normal” years comes out in early February. Of more immediate interest perhaps is the DoD’s request to amended the fiscal year 2017 budget. Released in mid-March, the 2017 budget amendment is the current administration’s opportunity to add its own priorities to previous administration’s FY 2017 budget submission. The $30 billion 2017 budget amendment includes appropriations aimed at accelerating the defeat of the ISIS, al Qaeda, and their affiliated or associated groups, increasing warfighting readiness, and covering new must-pay bills (Figure 1).

According the DoD, this request for additional appropriations is only the first step toward rebuilding the U.S. Armed Forces. The Department absorbed almost $200 billion in funding reductions from FY 2013 through FY 2017 due to the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 and its sequestration impacts. The effect of these reductions was exacerbated by continuing resolutions and unpredictable budgets. Warfighting readiness has been hardest hit, as training, maintenance, and modernization have all suffered significantly.

Sequestration Takes its Toll

The goal going forward is to restore warfighting readiness and restore capacity and lethality of the joint force. This will require time and stable funding above the current BCA caps for defense for FY 2017 and beyond, according to the DoD. It remains to be seen how sequestration and the Budget [...]

By |May 26th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, System Development|Comments Off on Readiness is Focus of Amended DoD Appropriations Request|

JEFF’S PICKS: Compact Rugged GPGPU System Serves up Real-Time Image Processing

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JEFF’S PICKS: Compact Rugged GPGPU System Serves up Real-Time Image Processing

Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Gone are the days when processors where the only choice for doing advanced military computing. As one alternative to general purpose processors, FPGAs have become signal processing engines in their own right. But a third choice has rapidly gained mindshare: the idea of putting high-performance graphics processors to work on general-purpose processing tasks. This idea of “GPUs as general-purpose processing engines” also falls nicely into the theme of doing more while keeping the complexity at bay using powerful graphics chips from NVIDA and AMD.

Addressing the complexity challenge, graphics chip vendor NVIDIA created a parallel computing architecture called CUDA. CUDA lets programmers use conventional computing languages to access the massively parallel processing capabilities of the GPU. Aside from serving applications in radar, signals intelligence and video surveillance and interpretation, GPUs based on the CUDA architecture have potential in other application areas, including target tracking, image stabilization and SAR (synthetic aperture radar) simulation. For this Editor’s Pick section COTS Journal evaluated several such products on three aspects: technology leadership, design innovation and market relevance.

This month’s Pick is the next generation A176 Aitech Defense Systems (Figure 1). Released this month, the upgraded unit is based on the company’s A176 Cyclone GPGPU supercomputer launched in Fall 2016 but instead uses the NVIDIA Jetson TX2 to provide twice the performance of its predecessor, or run at more than twice the power efficiency, while drawing less than 7.5 watts of power. The resulting rugged GPGPU COTS system enables deep learning capabilities as well as faster, more accurate data and image processing for better military intelligence.

More [...]

By |May 23rd, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Jeff's Picks, Tech Recon|Comments Off on JEFF’S PICKS: Compact Rugged GPGPU System Serves up Real-Time Image Processing|

Solutions Emerge to Tackle Many Facets of Embedded Security

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Solutions Emerge to Tackle Many Facets of Embedded Security

As the awareness and urgency surrounding security increases, technology suppliers are responding with solutions to address complex secure system design challenges.

JEFF CHILD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Crack open today’s top embedded system security issues for defense, and you’ll see a wide range of challenges and corresponding solutions. For military system developers, there’s perhaps no richer topic these days than that of developing secure systems. The problems are multi-faceted: How do you prevent intrusions by hackers? How to best encrypt that data once an intruder gets in? How do you ensured the components themselves haven’ been tampered with—or will be tampered with? Over the past 12 months, a myriad of technologies have been implemented at the chip, board and box level designed to help system developers build secure applications.

Secure Data Storage

Perhaps some of the most dynamic innovations in security recently have been on the embedded data storage side. Not long ago, defense system developers using defense-grade solid-state drives (SSD) focused on the tangible attributes you can express as a datasheet spec – media endurance, wear-leveling, error correction, and power loss protection features. System developers had had little to no familiarity with the concept of security as it relates to SSDs. But today practically all storage devices incorporate some level of security. All that said, every application has its own set of application-specific requirements where a simple off-the-shelf security solution cannot address every vulnerability.

“Over the next 5 to 10 years, we expect third-party validation programs, like Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) 140-2 and Commercial Solutions for Classified (CSfC), to become mandatory,” said Bob Lazaravich, Technical Director [...]

By |May 23rd, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Special Feature|Comments Off on Solutions Emerge to Tackle Many Facets of Embedded Security|

VME and CompactPCI Thrive in Tech Refresh Roles

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VME and CompactPCI Thrive in Tech Refresh Roles

For situations where a military platform needs upgraded computing technology, VME and CompactPCI SBCs remain the leading slot-card solutions.

JEFF CHILD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

VME and CompactPCI do extremely well in technology refresh programs. A new board with the latest and greatest processor, memory and I/O can easily be dropped into a slot that could be decades old. Many vendors roll out new VME SBCs each year. In contrast, the rate of new product roll outs for CompactPCI SBCs has dropped off, so this year we’ve merged them into this VME roundup.

A consequence of the lack of many “new start” defense programs in recent years has been a proliferation of contracts involving tech upgrades and tech insertions kinds of contracts. The embedded computing has taken good advantage of those opportunities to add new technology to existing military platforms. Each in their own ways, VME and CompactPCI are both popular technologies for upgrade situations. Some complications have arisen on the VME side as the some VMEbus interface chips have gone end-of-life. But there again, vendors are providing solutions to keep that functionality available using FPGAs.

With the emergence of OpenVPX, there’s been a natural positioning of VPX as replacing VME. But that’s not as straightforward a comparison as it would seem. VPX is certainly better suited for high-bandwidth, data intensive military applications, while VME is suited for applications that are event-driven. Event driven functions like controlling motors and actuators, moving gun turrets and missile launch-frames into position, fall into the event driven category.

In contrast technologies based on switch fabrics and parallel PCI bus-based systems (like CompactPCI) [...]

By |May 19th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Datasheets|Comments Off on VME and CompactPCI Thrive in Tech Refresh Roles|

Marching to the Numbers

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Marching to the Numbers

 

$20.8 million– Value of contract to Orbital ATK by the U.S. Army Contracting Command on behalf of the U.S. Navy for first article test and production of the MK419 Mod 1 Multi-Function Fuze (MFF). The MFF increases the overall mission capability of 5-inch gun ammunition used on U.S. Navy ships by combining five modes of operation into a single fuze. The MK419 MFF-equipped round gives a 1980s-era, single-dimension Naval Surface Fire Support munition more modern, multi-dimension capability. This includes support against multiple threats. The MFF is designed for use on the MK187 projectile used on U.S. Navy guns.

 

400 hours— Number of flight hours the CH-53K King Stallion helicopter passed well before Lockheed Martin successfully passed its Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) review and achieved a Milestone C decision that enables low rate initial production funding for the program. Numerous, successfully completed pre-requisites preceded the Milestone C decision. The October 2016 initial Operational Assessment by the USMC fully established the ability of the King Stallion to achieve critical mission flight and ground scenarios in the hands of active duty Marines. The CH-53K King Stallion provides three times the lift heavy lift capability of the CH-53E that it replaces.

 

10,000 – The number of combat missions completed by the Battlefield Airborne Communications [...]

By |April 27th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Marching to the Numbers|Comments Off on Marching to the Numbers|

COTS Products | April 2017

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COTS Products | April 2017

 

Intel Atom E38xx-based EBX SBC Provides Extended Capabilities

Versalogic has announced the “Viper”, an EBX format, fanless SBC with a choice of performance level; single, dual-, and quad-core models. Compare with the “Montevina” Core 2 Duo processor, the Intel Atom E38xx-based quad-core unit can deliver twice the performance with overall power consumption of 6 watts (typical), one-third less. Two levels of security are provided. The on-board Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security chip prevents unauthorized access and the built-in AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) processor instructions adds additional protection. The target market includes defense, medical and industrial control requires protection against cyberattacks.

On-board I/O ports include a USB 3.0 port, six USB 2.0 ports, two 10/100 Ethernet, four serial ports, thirty-two digital I/O lines, eight 12-bit analog inputs and four 12-bit analog outputs. Additionally, the Dual SATA interfaces support high-capacity rotating or solid-state drives. Intel’s gen 7 HD graphic processor supports two simultaneous 1080p video streams, encoding and decoding of H.264, MVC, VP8, VC1/WMV9 and other standards. Furthermore, it supports dual display support, DirectX 11, Open GL 4.0 and full HD video playback with resolution up to 2560 x 1600 at 60Hz. Video interfaces include the mini DisplayPort++ outputs, VGA and a single/dual-channel LVDS display outputs.

The unit can be expanded via its dual Mini PCIe sockets for plug-in Wi-Fi modems, GPS receivers, other mini cards (MIL-STD-1553, Ethernet, and Analog) and a microSD socket for solid-state drive (SSD). The Viper is designed for rugged applications with temperature ranges from -40 to +85 degrees C. It meets [...]

By |April 20th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, COTS Products|Comments Off on COTS Products | April 2017|

I’m Big on Better Buying

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I’m Big on Better Buying

Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

On “normal” years the DoD has consistently released its Budget Proposal for the next fiscal year in February, but this year the next fiscal year proposal isn’t expected until May. To be fair, when there’s been a change in Administrations such delays are not uncommon. As we look ahead, it’s interesting to take a look at the DoD’s spending and efficiency performance over the past year.

Along just those lines, the GAO recently released its annual “Quick Look” report across the DoD’s weapons programs. The DoD is investing more than $1.4 trillion to acquire 78 major weapon systems—including aircraft, ships, and ground vehicles. The GAO found that the Department had made strides to address past inefficiencies. Certain programs, for example, increased their buying power by $10.7 billion. “Buying power” means more can be purchased for the same level of funding. All that said, the DoD, according to the report is missing key opportunities to reduce cost by increasing competition. The report also cited how most weapon programs it assessed are not yet fully following knowledge-based best practices—increasing risk for cost increases and delays.

Since the GAO’s 2016 assessment, the number of programs in the DoD portfolio of major defense acquisitions decreased from 79 to 78, while DoD’s planned investment over the life of these programs increased by $9.4 billion to $1.46 trillion. That included mixed performance in the portfolio this year. While the current portfolio has incurred $484 billion in total cost growth, $476 billion of this occurred 5 or more years ago suggesting that recent performance has improved.

Interestingly, 60 percent of the total cost growth occurred after [...]

By |April 20th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Editorial, Editorial_cotsjournal|Comments Off on I’m Big on Better Buying|

The Inside Track | April 2017

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The Inside Track | April 2017

 

Navy Contracts Textron Systems for Two Common Unmanned Surface Vehicles

Textron Systems Unmanned Systems has announced today that it has received a $14.8 million contract to provide two additional fourth-generation CUSV vehicles for the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) program. The U.S. Navy intends to use these two CUSV systems as part of their comprehensive Mine Counter Measure Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV) mission, which includes mine-hunting and potentially mine-neutralization, as well as mine-sweeping. These two additional CUSVs will join the U.S. Navy’s first CUSV, which is designed for the influence sweeping mission.

The CUSV is a multi-mission unmanned surface vehicle, capable of carrying multiple payloads, including side-scan sonar, mine neutralization, nonlethal weapons, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors (Figure 1). Since its first demonstration in 2009, the CUSV has successfully completed several prominent exercises with the U.S. Navy. Today, the variations of the CUSV have amassed more than 2,000 on-water operational hours. Delivery of the two CUSV systems is expected in 2018.

Textron Systems
Hunt Valley, MD
(410) 666-1400
www.textronsystems.com

 

PICMG Ratifies COM Express Revision 3.0 for Server Grade Performance

PICMG has announced the release of a high-performance revision that adds server-grade functionality to COM Express embedded computing systems. Revision 3.0 of COM Express provides for a new Type 7 connector and the addition of up to four 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) interfaces on the board (Figure 2). Previous revisions of the specification were limited to a single Gbit Ethernet interface. The higher speed ports open up new markets such as data centers where the high compute density of COM Express can result in increased rack utilization. [...]

By |April 19th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, The Inside Track|Comments Off on The Inside Track | April 2017|

JEFF’S PICKS: A-D Processing Board Family Boasts Scalable, Flexible Architecture

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JEFF’S PICKS: A-D Processing Board Family Boasts Scalable, Flexible Architecture

Jeff Child, Editor-in-Chief

Today’s military digital conversation applications rely heavily on analog-to-digital converters (ADCs), digital-to-analogy converters and FPGAs. The evolving trend in recent years is to perform digital conversion as soon along the signal chain as possible. High-bandwidth A/D converters with high sampling rates must connect to extremely fast data transfer paths to store and process data with triggering or gating circuitry to digitize pulse waveforms at precisely the right time. To feed those needs, board vendors continue to push the barriers with solutions with ever faster ADCs and more sophisticated FPGAs. A rich selection of digital receiver products combine ADCs and FPGAs on one VME, VPX, or PCI Express board. Other solutions pair a FPGA processing engine with mezzanine-based ADCs using form-factors like FMC or XMC.

For this month’s Jeff’s Picks section COTS Journal evaluated several ADC and DAC conversion products based on three aspects: technology leadership, design innovation and market relevance. The winning product is the PVP-7xx family of A-D processing boards from Star Communications (Figure 1). This family is scalable from 1 to 4 A/D channels and from 1 to 4 FPGAs (Xilinx high-end Virtex-7 XC7VX485T). According to the company, the product is based on a small, multi-channel A-D component that uses high-speed serial links to route sample data to FPGAs on the board.

Each HSSL link consists of a differential pair operating up to 4 Gbits/s, and protected using SONET scrambling and Hamming error correcting codes. Use of HSSL has several PCB design benefits. First, board area is minimized because each differential pair replaces an entire data bus. Second, routing is [...]

By |April 19th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Jeff's Picks, Tech Recon|Comments Off on JEFF’S PICKS: A-D Processing Board Family Boasts Scalable, Flexible Architecture|

Interconnectivity is Theme for UAV and UGV Tech Advances

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Interconnectivity is Theme for UAV and UGV Tech Advances

Unmanned systems both air- and ground-based continue to depend on powerful processing technology. The latest trend is toward communications and network advances among systems.

JEFF CHILD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

It’s clear that both unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) have evolved to become indispensable tools for today’s modern warfighter. Their technology trends have likewise following a parallel path. Both UAVs and UGV system designs are moving toward more autonomous capabilities and ever more sophisticated ISR collecting. All that requires increased embedded compute density. To keep pace, the embedded computing industry is responding with highly integrated, small form factor solutions serving the needs of UAVs and UGVs.

On UAV side, development in recent years has trended toward upgrades of existing UAV platforms and payloads while limiting development of new ones. Technology vendors have responded with new integrated box-level systems with the proper size, weight and power (SWaP) for UAV requirements. For medium and large UAVs, most system upgrades are aimed at either adding more payload functionality in the same space or at adding more separate payloads on the same platform. The consolidation of multiple systems into few boxes is impacting the radar, imaging processing and communications capabilities of next-gen UAVs.

For UGVs, system platforms have matured significantly since operations in Iraq and Afghanistan began. Over that period, the DoD has acquired and deployed thousands of UGVs and support equipment. The systems support a diverse range of duties, everything from suspected object identification and route clearance to locating and defusing improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Over the last 12 months, a lot of the advances [...]

By |April 18th, 2017|Articles, COTS Journal, Special Feature|Comments Off on Interconnectivity is Theme for UAV and UGV Tech Advances|