FACE Consortium promotes open standards to achieve common, interoperable avionics.
A government-industry consortium promoting open software standards for military avionics continues to advance with the certification of a distribution framework intended to share data among avionics components in real time.
The data distribution platform developed by ADLINK Technology Inc. conforms with the emerging Future Airborne Capability Environment (FACE) avionics standard, the Open Group FACE consortium announced on March 27. The conformance certification specifically applies to the “edge computing” vendor’s Java programing language application programming interface (API). The company’s data distribution service dubbed Vortex also supports C++.
ADLINK’s Java API, or application programming interface, is currently being used by an unnamed aerospace manufacturer to integrate avionics systems.
The company also said it was able to “exactly match” the Java and C++ APIs in the transport services layer of its data distribution platform to the programming interfaces included in the FACE standard. That match “helps to minimize risk associated with integration,” said Mike Roberts, ADLINK’s solutions architect.
The industry consortium said ADLINK becomes the first data distribution services vendor to achieve certification for its Java API under the FACE specs. Judy Cerenzia, director of FACE Consortium’s Open Group, also stressed that conformance certification would reduce “the time, cost and risk of avionics systems integration.”
ADLINK’s Vortex platform is used in aerospace and military avionics systems ranging from radar processors to mission simulators. It is based on a standard software architecture designed to provide real-time data sharing among interoperable devices.
The U.S. military has long sought common avionics hardware and software that could be used across the military services to reduce costs and boost interoperability. The FACE consortium is designed to migrate commercial software components into avionic systems that conform to the group’s spec.
Staff Sgt. Nichole Smith ensures the computer system in the avionics bay of a KC-10 Extender is properly working at a deployed location in Southwest Asia on July 30. Sergeant Smith is a guidance and control specialist with the 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Jason Webb)
The consortium, which includes military electronics suppliers, the Air Force Research Laboratory as well as Army and Navy aviation branches, agreed in 2017 to align its technical standard with the Joint Tactical Networking Center's software communications architecture. The San Diego-based center develops secure, interoperable waveforms and wireless communication systems for joint Department of Defense (DoD) programs.
Along with open standards to support interoperable hardware and improve software development, the FACE consortium also promotes the use of standard interfaces that will encourage reuse of avionics architectures. Ultimately, that could promote long-sought commonality among avionics platforms deployed by the three U.S. military services.
That approach differs significantly from current avionics development, which focuses on meeting a unique set of service requirements that are typically developed by a single vendor using proprietary technologies. That has led to service-specific avionics designs that often cannot communicate with each other along with limited software portability and skyrocketing procurement costs, the avionics consortium has stressed.
“The FACE standard will make it possible for the Department of Defense to leverage avionics technology that’s interoperable, secure and portable while also addressing several challenges that current technology procurement processes create,” Niels Kortstee, an ADLINK product manager, added in a blog post.