Unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) control experts at the Raytheon Co. Technical Services segment in Dulles, Va., will switch a major unmanned helicopter control system from Solaris to Linux software, and upgrade the system with universal UAV control qualities under terms of a $15.8 million contract.
Officials of the U.S. Naval Air Systems command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking Raytheon to upgrade the company’s Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmanned Air Vehicle (VTUAV) Tactical Control System (TCS), which was designed to help operators fly the Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned helicopter.
Raytheon engineers also will integrate modern intuitive controls, automates testing procedures, and support software upgrades in the field.
The Raytheon TCS is designed to operate UAVs in all branches of the U.S. military, as well as NATO STANAG 4586-compliant UAVs. Raytheon developed the TCS to run on the proprietary Sun Microsystems Solaris 8 software operating system, which is approaching the end of its useful life in U.S. military applications.
Raytheon will continue converting TCS software that runs the Navy Fire Scout unmanned helicopter to the open-source Linux operating system. The Solaris and Linux operating systems both are based on the Unix operating system.
The the Unmanned Aerial System Control Segment architecture, or UCS, seeks to develop open-systems standards for a common UAV control system that can operate all U.S. Navy, Air Force, Army, and Marine Corps UAVs that weigh 20 pounds or more.
The goal of the UCS is to develop an architecture for all military services as a common basis for buying, developing, and upgrading a wide variety of U.S. military UAV control systems.
The TCS can be configured in racks for ship-based operations, shelterized as a land-based system, or integrated into a shelter on land vehicles such as the Humvee.
There are five levels of TCS functionality. levels I and II enable receipt of imagery. levels III and IV provide command and control of the air vehicle and payload and imagery receipt. level V provides command-and-control, payload control, imagery receipt, and the ability to take off and land.
Navy officials also are asking Raytheon to upgrade the TCS full-motion video capability; upgrade the system’s shipboard messaging formats; and include training and simulation capability.
On this contract Raytheon will do the work in Sterling, Va.; Dahlgren, Va.; Carson, Calif.; and Garland, Texas, and should be finished by April 2016.