A Perspective on Commercial and Military Avionics 952024
The adjective commercial is nearly a military vendor marketing cliche. Unfortunately, there are many strategic questions unresolved about dual use. Computer circuit cards are the focus, although software, displays, data entry systems, sensors, and many other types of electronics might huddle under the same umbrella. Therefore, it is critical to understand the differences among the various applications and technologies.
Military systems constitute a spectrum of applications from airborne, ground, naval surface, naval subsurface, and space systems. The requirements of some are very similar to those of airline transport systems. Others are quite different, such as Fighter/Attack (F/A) that includes severe environmental profiles, information and communication security, and high levels of fault tolerance.
The dwindling number of suppliers of specialized, military equipment prompt the initiatives based on commercial products. High performance, commercial, work stations might function “off the shelf” in ground station, surface, and subsurface roles as part of the digital battlefield of the future. However, this vision is difficult to apply to F/A because of its complex requirements. Market trends that emphasize retrofits of existing aircraft exacerbate this problem.
This paper reviews the basis for the acquisition policy and the technical issues regarding commercial products for F/A avionics. In addition, the discussion revisits historical use of commercial avionic computers in military designs. The paper also considers certification issues involved in application of military computers to airline transport applications. The discussion concludes with recommendations for supporting customers facing the fury of the raging policy storms.