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AEROSPACE
Boeing info-sharing system for Air Force passes final design review
by Richard Tomkins
Huntington Beach, Calif. (UPI) Sep 17, 2014


E-3 Sentry aircraft of USAF and NATO going digital
Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. (UPI) Sep 17, 2014 - Cockpits of E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control aircraft are to go digital as a result of cooperative development effort by the U.S. Air Force and NATO.

The development program for the aging AWAC planes is called DRAGON, or Diminishing Manufacturing Sources Replacement of Avionics for Global Operations and Navigation, according to the Air Force.

The aim is to replace non-sustainable, mainly analog, 1970s equipment with commercially available digital avionics systems, and avionic sub-systems that are compliant with international airspace regulations.

"As original equipment manufacturers discontinue support to 40-year-old avionics, replacement parts are becoming harder and harder to come by," said Jennifer Pomphrett, the DRAGON project manager.

Included in the upgrade will be digital, satellite-based communications; modern flight management system architecture; and digital display screens for customizable engine, navigation and situational awareness data.

The DRAGON program office is located at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts.

A final design review has been completed by Boeing on a U.S. Air Force program for information sharing and improved communications.

The program is called Talon HATE, which combines information from fighter networks, national sources and joint command-and-control assets.

The information is transmitted over data links.

The Talon HATE system is designed to initially be carried in a pod attached to Boeing's F-15C fighter aircraft.

Boeing said it rapidly prototyped the system for the U.S. Air Force Tactical Exploitation of National Capabilities office within the Air Force's Air Combat Command. The intra-flight data link used on F-22 aircraft and F/A-18 aircraft was integrated within a proven flight communications system -- the Multifunctional Information Distribution System-JTRS, or MIDS-J, for hosting concurrent communications waveforms.

The result: a system that assimilates information in real time from multiple domains to create an improved common operating picture for tactical awareness.

"The Boeing team demonstrated communications interoperability between the platforms using these systems during the final design review," said Sean Rice, program director, Boeing Talon HATE and Derivatives. "The feedback and advice gained from pilots, operators and support teams seeking to improve this prototype was vital to this success."

Several Talon HATE systems are to be delivered to operational squadrons next year.

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